It’s been a few days, so I thought I would write another post to update you all on what happened the last two days of the week. I think my last post ended with Tuesday, so I will write about Wednesday and Thursday. The entire week we have been getting up really early and working all day. We had to wake up around 5am and didn’t finish until around 5pm every day, so we all were really drained this weekend.
On Wednesday we were back in Caesarea doing more work on mosaics. We first set up a shade tarp and then began cleaning between the stones with dentist tools. We each cleaned an area of mosaics in this one room by digging between the tesserae (mosaic stone cubes) to remove dirt and old, weak mortar. Then we prepared a lime mortar that was liquid-based so that it would seep between the tesserae and fill the spaces. After letting the mortar dry for a short time we washed the tops of the tesserae to remove excess mortar, exposing the stones while leaving the mortar in between them to solidify the mosaic as a whole. While we were working groups of tourists would come up to us asking what we were doing. The shade tarp seemed like a magnet for the inquisitive. Like I have mentioned before, I always enjoy it when people come up to us asking about what we are doing. After we were finished working on the mosaics we met with the man in charge of conservation at Caesarea. He talked to us about the role of conservation and the conservator, and the ethics behind conservation methods.
On Thursday we were back at the ancient synagogue on Meron, continuing our work from Tuesday. We were joined by a photographer from the Israel Antiquities Authority who was working on a presentation about conservation at the site to improve publicity of the site and of what the IAA does. He photographed us while we worked. He also filmed one of us as a short interview talking about who we were, our program, and what we were working on. We had a lot to work on to finish filling our wall with stones and mortar. My side of the wall had a huge hole inside of it, and filling it took most of our time. In the end we were unable to completely finish the right side of it, but some of the others finished the left side and moved up to the top half of the wall. Near the end of our time at Meron Amit, the man in charge, gave us a brief lesson in removing graffiti from stone walls. There was some graffiti on a wall near the entrance to the synagogue, and he demonstrated to us how to remove it, as well as giving us a chance to do some of it ourselves. The process involves applying a special chemical to the painted area, letting it sit, and then washing it off with water with a pressure washer. The graffiti came off almost instantly and completely. It was really cool to watch and even cooler to do. We were lucky to have been there when they were working on it, since it wasn’t originally part of the plan for our work.
Thursday night we went to Haifa for dinner to celebrate Melissa’s birthday a little more. We went to a Japanese restaurant for sushi and then to a bar for a drink. The sushi was decent but nothing special. Everyone was so exhausted from the week’s work that after one drink we decided we would head home. It was already too late to take the train, so I bargained with a taxi driver for a decent price to take us all back to the apartment. Friday some of us were supposed to go on a hike with another Masa group, but we were too tired and decided to sleep in instead. The weekend was another slow and lazy one as we all recouped from last week.
Written by Ben Douglass, Saving the Stones 7 Intern
Reposted from Ben’s Israel Blog