Weblog of the March/April 2011 Petra excavation campaigns

Week two (Sunday, March 20, to Saturday, March 26, 2011)

Welcome
Week one
Week two
Week three
Week four
Week five
Week six
Week seven
Videos one
Videos two

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On the first working day the essential stuff for Umm el-Biyara was put on the truck and driven to the foot of the mountain. Besides the shovels, mudschrfas, goofas the main task was to bring up the not so heavy solar energy equipment packed into a rather heavy swiss military officer’s chest, generously sponsored by Rolf „Schoofegg“ Egli some years ago. Anyway, this was no problem for the tough guys of the Umm el-Biyara team.

Fig. 8: Guido Teltsch, Nils Rhensius, André Barmasse and Will Kennedy with the chest at the foot of the steps of Umm el-Biyara.
Fig. 8: Guido Teltsch, Nils Rhensius, André Barmasse and Will Kennedy with the chest at the foot of the steps of Umm el-Biyara.

At the same time the team on Ez-Zantur discussed the plans for this year’s excavation and prepared the site for digging. Stroken by a kind of hybris Thomas Kabs suddenly felt, that he had become chef of the Ez-Zantur site and climed onto the top of the debris to show some muscles. A few minutes later he calmed down and realized, that actually Bernhard Kolb was the one in charge of the Ez-Zantur excavations.

Fig. 9: Thomas Kabs going crazy on the Ez-Zantur debris.
Fig. 9: Thomas Kabs going crazy on the Ez-Zantur debris.

Monday, March 21, 2011

After having defined the grids and prepared the documentation, the teams both on Ez-Zantur and on Umm el-Biyara started out the real work on the second day of the working week. Equipped with the most professional outfits and material the members of the Umm el-Biyara team moved towards their trenches: the watch tower on the south-western ridge, Morton’s trench and the area with heating system on the north-eastern part of the mountain.

Fig. 10: Polly Agoridou in her jungle assault outfit and André Barmasse picking up their digging equipment in front of the camp site.
Fig. 10: Polly Agoridou in her jungle assault outfit and André Barmasse picking up their digging equipment in front of the camp site.

Starting out at Ez-Zantur Jana Falkenberg continued her measurement trip across Petra and towards Umm el-Biyara. Her task was on one hand to lay some grids for the excavations on Ez-Zantur and to project the Swiss grid from Ez-Zantur onto Umm el-Biyara, in order to enable a grid layout for the present and further excavations there. After some initial problems with the different measurement methods and coordinate systems she did her job very well.

Fig. 11: Nadine Bürkle, Jana Falkenberg, Will Kennedy and Bernhard Kolb setting up a reference station near Wadi al-Farasa.
Fig. 11: Nadine Bürkle, Jana Falkenberg, Will Kennedy and Bernhard Kolb setting up a reference station near Wadi al-Farasa.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The third working day on Umm el-Biyara was defined by continuation on all three sites. An rather unusual member of our team became a female dog, that accompagnied us almost every day from bottom to top of Umm el-Biyara. But having reached the top she did not help us on site, but prefered to rest in front of the cave, enjoying the sun, our food and doing nothing else. We did not find a appropriate name for the dog yet - although some sprung to our mind.

Fig 12: Our dig dog guarding the entrance of the cave on Umm el-Biyara like a Cerberus.
Fig 12: Our dig dog guarding the entrance of the cave on Umm el-Biyara like a Cerberus.

As on every digging site, on Ez-Zantur too the debris needs to be removed into an area, where it does not interfere with later excavations or impose danger to visitors of any kind. On Ez-Zantur this procedure took a rather long time, but it is not know to the author, whether this was due to continuous missunderstandings between cultures or the wrong hand signs sent out by Bernhard Kolb.

Fig. 13: Neither the Bedool workmen nor Robert Haas-Zens seem to listen to Bernhard Kolb.
Fig. 13: Neither the Bedool workmen nor Robert Haas-Zens seem to listen to Bernhard Kolb.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On Umm el-Biyara always two members of the excavation team need to stay over night to guard the equipment. From Thuesday to Wednesday it was Jana Falkenberg, who needed to take some extra measurements on the Umm plateau, and Nils Rhenius. In the morning, both prepared a very yummy breakfast, consisting of scrumbled eggs and tomatoes, for the other team members climbing up the almost thousand steps of Umm el-Biyara.

Fig. 14: Nils Rhensius checking out the breakfast made by Jana Falkenberg.
Fig. 14: Nils Rhensius checking out the breakfast made by Jana Falkenberg.

On Ez-Zantur excavations of the area outside the southern retaining wall of the mansion are progressing, bringing up to light quite surprising fragments of architectural elements almost every day.

Fig. 15: Standing on top of the wall, Bernhard Kolb inspects the trench of Robert Haas-Zens and gives usefull advice.
Fig. 15: Standing on top of the wall, Bernhard Kolb inspects the trench of Robert Haas-Zens and gives usefull advice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On the fifth working day work continued on Umm el-Biyara. The area of the heating system revealed some interesting structures: at the centre of this area is a large room, flanked on its larger side by a series of heated rooms and on its smaller side by two bassins and another roon, yet unknown in its function. As both those sides lay towards the cutting edge of the plateau, working there is nothing for sissies.

Fig. 16: Polly Agoridou working fearlessly within the hypocaust room on the very edge of the Umm plateau.
Fig. 16: Polly Agoridou working fearlessly within the hypocaust room on the very edge of the Umm plateau.

Meanwhile, the Ez-Zantur site was visited by Undine Lieberwirth from Topoi at Berlin, who stayed some days together with the team at the Nazzal’s camp. As she was eager to help, she helped out with digging half a day on Ez-Zantur and on Umm el-Biyara.

Fig 17: Undine Lieberwirth cleaning a cut on Ez-Zantur for the uppcoming „Schnittansprache“ (cut speak)
Fig 17: Undine Lieberwirth cleaning a cut on Ez-Zantur for the uppcoming „Schnittansprache“ (cut speak)

Friday, March 25, 2011

On the evening of Thursday a major rainfall, accompagnied by flash and thunder, began to cover the rocky area of Petra. It remainded rather cool and moisty during two days. Fortunately, this year it was not Stephan Schmid and André Barmasse, who had to stay up on Umm el-Biyara during the rain shower, but Nadine Bürkle and Jana Falkenberg. But they seem to have survived and even enjoyed it, as the cave keeps the warmth within and helps to sleep like a baby.

Fig. 18: Nadine Bürkle and Will Kennedy working while the storm rises behind them.
Fig. 18: Nadine Bürkle and Will Kennedy working while the storm rises behind them.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

On Saturday the weather remained more or less the same as on Friday. As the rain ceased during the day some of the people took the opportunity to visit some of the monuments in Petra, while others remained at Nazzal’s camp and enjoyed a good read.

Fig. 19: photographer Andreas F. Voegelin relaxes at Nazzal’s camp and enjoys a good book and an even better cigarette.
Fig. 19: photographer Andreas F. Voegelin relaxes at Nazzal’s camp and enjoys a good book and an even better cigarette.