Written by Ben Douglass, Saving the Stones – Spring 2014 Intern
Reposted from Ben’s Israel Blog
Welcome from Jerusalem! We are spending this entire week here, doing various conservation work with the IAA. We are staying in Abraham Hostel in Davidkah Square near Machaneh Yehuda, the shuk. It is in the center of everything and only about a fifteen-minute walk to the Old City.
Sunday morning we left Akko and drove to Jerusalem. We started in the IAA labs to see where they work on artifacts. Experts on different materials gave lectures about their work, specifically ceramic, metal and glass objects, including their creation, maintenance, and conservation. In the afternoon we were given a tour of the different labs, looking at what they have worked on and what they are currently working on among the ceramic, metal and glass artifacts. Yesterday evening we went out to a pub, got a drink and hung out.
Today we went back to the labs and got to do hands-on work in the labs. Our first station was working with (modern) broken ceramics, trying to fit them back together, reconstruct them and glue them back into one whole piece. It was a challenge, but not very hard. I have the patience to sit and stare at pieces to see if I can find some that have matching breaks. I wish we had worked on actual artifacts, but they didn’t have anything easy and ‘unimportant’ for us to work on, so I understand their hesitancy to let us work on a real artifact. We did the same for the glass workshop. We had a modern glass object that was broken and had to put it back together. It was very similar to working with ceramics but we had to be careful not to cut ourselves, and it was a little more difficult to put the pieces together.
We also had a metal workshop, working on actual metal artifacts that taught us the basic techniques without being too important. We were cleaning nails and other small metal objects of their encrustation and dirt. It was a lot more tedious, but I liked it. I haven’t worked with metals before, so it was cool scraping away at the layers of dirt and slowly revealing the metal beneath.
After working at the lab we were finished for the day. I took an accidental four-hour nap, and then went walking. I ended up on Ben Yehuda Street, ate a shawarma, and watched the tourists walking around.