Weblog of the March/April 2011 Petra excavation campaigns

Week one (Wednesday, March 16, to Saturday, March 19, 2011)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The first part of this year’s excavation team from Germany consisting of Stephan Schmid, Guido Teltsch und Will Kennedy travelled on Tuesday, 16 march, from Berlin to Amman. They had with them most of the electronic equipment. The rest of the German team, consisting of Jana Falkenberg, Nadine Bürkle, Polly Agoridou and Robert Haas-Zens, arrived on Wednesday at Queen Aliya International Airport near Amman. They all residued in the Institut Francais du Proche Orient (IFPO) in Amman.

Fig. 1: Robert Haas-Zens, Jana Falkenberg, Polly Agoridou and Nadine Bürkle waiting for a transit bus at Istanbul airport.
Fig. 1: Robert Haas-Zens, Jana Falkenberg, Polly Agoridou and Nadine Bürkle waiting for a transit bus at Istanbul airport.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

During the whole of Thursday Stephan Schmid had to fullfill several official and administrative duties, like visiting the Departement of Antiquities to obtain this year’s excavation permit, while the other members were free to visit downtown Amman. After a heavy shopping tour in order to get most of the essential stuff to survive the first days in Petra, the truck was loaded and the team was ready to leave Amman.

Fig 2: The entire german team is posing in front of the car in the court of the IFPO.
Fig 2: The entire german team is posing in front of the car in the court of the IFPO.

Arriving in Umm Sayhoun, the team was warmly wellcomed. Stephan Schmid had to shake quite a lot of hands and to discuss the preparing of the Nazzal’s camp with the local representative, Ali Chalaf al-Bdool, and some supplying and cooking details with Suleyman Mohammed and his wife Aziza. Some of team members made their first contact with the inhabitants of Umm Sayhoun.

Fig. 3: Robert Haas-Zens is very delighted to see this little baby donkey.
Fig. 3: Robert Haas-Zens is very delighted to see this little baby donkey.

Friday, March 18, 2011

During the whole Friday the team was free to visit the sites and monuments of Petra. In the afternoon they were guided by Bernhard Kolb from Basel through the ruins of the monumental mansion on Ez-Zantur. Everybody was very delighted and impressed, too.

Fig. 4: The team in the caves of the mansion on Ez-Zantur. By the way: the cool guy with sunglasses on is Bernhard Kolb.
Fig. 4: The team in the caves of the mansion on Ez-Zantur. By the way: the cool guy with sunglasses on is Bernhard Kolb.

In the evening, the Basel team, consisting of Christoph Schneider and André Barmasse arrived at Queen Aliya international airport. The flight with Royal Jordanian was rather boring, because the multimedia system on board was broken. At least they had fine red and white wine from Mount Nebo. The two remaining guys were picked up by Stephan Schmid, but instead of driving directly to Petra a major nightly shopping tour at a large mall near Amman was on the plan. Finally, three hours and three heavily filled carts later the three Swiss guys were on their way towards Petra.

Fig 5: Christoph Schneider and Stephan Schmid behind heavily loaded lorries at the shopping mall.
Fig 5: Christoph Schneider and Stephan Schmid behind heavily loaded lorries at the shopping mall.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The first day at Petra with the excavation teams from Germany and Switzerland united, a visit to the high mountain of Umm el-Biyara was planned. The ascension was very hard, because some of the participants (including the writer of these lines) were physically rather untrained. But hopes were high and weather conditions good. During the many pauses on the way up, Stephan Schmid and Bernhard Kolb explained the monuments in and around Petra and gave a small introdution to the history of the Nabataeans.

Fig. 6: Resting on the steps of Umm el-Biyara, the team is carefully listening to the explanations of Stephan Schmid.
Fig. 6: Resting on the steps of Umm el-Biyara, the team is carefully listening to the explanations of Stephan Schmid.

On the top of Umm el-Biyara the camp site for the next four weeks, a sheltered cave on the northern edge of the plateau, was visited. Everybody was taking a short break (and quite some breath, too) before exploring the three exacavation sites targeted for this year.

Fig. 7: The team resting in the area of the cave and camping site.
Fig. 7: The team resting in the area of the cave and camping site.