Weblog of the March/April 2014 Petra excavation campaigns

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How it all begun ...

Fig. 1: Will Kennedy, Raphael Eser, Laura Weis, Sophie Horacek and Marco Dehner (from left to right) waiting for their flight at Berlin Tegel airport
Fig. 1: Will Kennedy, Raphael Eser, Laura Weis, Sophie Horacek and Marco Dehner (from left to right) waiting for their flight at Berlin Tegel airport

Friday, March 14, 2014

This year, the arrival in Jordan was marked by a late comeback of winter. Heavy rain and even snow covered all of the country. Since during the past months there was almost no precipitation, this was actually good news.

Fig. 2: The road to Shobak. Actually it was cleaned much quicker as in similar situations in Berlin ...
Fig. 2: The road to Shobak. Actually it was cleaned much quicker as in similar situations in Berlin ...

However, for our group travelling from Amman to Petra, it turned out to be quite a challenge. While the four wheel driven pick up steered by Stephan Schmid had no problems with difficult roads, the van with the rest of the group was stuck at Shobak. Hence, we had to drive twice with the pickup from Shobak to Petra in order to get all the people and material there.

Fig. 3: While waiting for the second car trip to Petra, the students enjoyed themselves during a snowball battle in the main street of Shobak
Fig. 3: While waiting for the second car trip to Petra, the students enjoyed themselves during a snowball battle in the main street of Shobak

After everybody was rescued from the snow storm, the group found refuge at Suleiman’s home in Umm Sayhoun, the village of the B’dool tribe.

Fig. 4: Polly Agoridou, Raphael Eser, Laura Weis, Sophie Horacek, Suleiman Mohammed, Aziza Suleiman (from left to right)
Fig. 4: Polly Agoridou, Raphael Eser, Laura Weis, Sophie Horacek, Suleiman Mohammed, Aziza Suleiman (from left to right)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fortunately, the next day, our first working day, weather improved considerably and the first climbing to the top of Umm al-Biyara was a rather pleasant one. Very quickly, with the routine of already the fifth consecutive campaign, the camp was installed.

Fig. 5: Will Kennedy (foreground) and Sophie Horacek (background) preparing the cave for the tent
Fig. 5: Will Kennedy (foreground) and Sophie Horacek (background) preparing the cave for the tent
Fig. 6: Polly Agoridou trying to make sense out of the tent’s elements
Fig. 6: Polly Agoridou trying to make sense out of the tent’s elements

The final result with the tent installed inside the cave. The dark spots on the green tent cover turned out to be mice piss. Obviously, our storage cave down in Petra was invaded by a small mice population over the year. The final result added a delicious smell to the cave (and the tent itself).

Fig. 7: Two-person-anti-snow-anti-rain-anti-coldth-anti-warmth tent, professionally installed in the cave
Fig. 7: Two-person-anti-snow-anti-rain-anti-coldth-anti-warmth tent, professionally installed in the cave

Sunday, March 16, 2014

As everywhere during that period of the year and in the mountains, weather conditions can change very quickly. This is why during the first days of work we had everything from sunshine and hot temperatures to rain and freezing cold, as the following pictures may illustrate.

Fig. 8: Christoph Schneider, Raphael Eser and Polly Agoridou (from left to right) on a rather cold morning
Fig. 8: Christoph Schneider, Raphael Eser and Polly Agoridou (from left to right) on a rather cold morning
Fig. 9: Sophie Horacek (left) and Will Kennedy (right) on a rather warm afternoon
Fig. 9: Sophie Horacek (left) and Will Kennedy (right) on a rather warm afternoon

Monday, March 17, 2014

The first days on Umm al-Biyara were marked by the installation of the camp and the trenches we plan to work on this season. One is the continuation of a building begun last year, the second one is a new building, already mapped during our 2010 survey but not excavated so far.

Fig. 10: Christoph Schneider, Sophie Horacek and Raphael Eser (from left to right) preparing the ladder for taking a picture
Fig. 10: Christoph Schneider, Sophie Horacek and Raphael Eser (from left to right) preparing the ladder for taking a picture
Fig. 11: One of the trenches after the first level has been excavated. Walls already start appearing
Fig. 11: One of the trenches after the first level has been excavated. Walls already start appearing

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hard work requires a healthy and abundant nutrition. This is why we always have a particular eye on the preparation of our meals on top of Umm al-Biyara. With the years, many of us have become quite fit in outdoor cuisine.

Fig. 12: Will Kennedy (left) returns from collecting fire wood, while Marco Dehner (right) is guarding the water bottles
Fig. 12: Will Kennedy (left) returns from collecting fire wood, while Marco Dehner (right) is guarding the water bottles
Fig. 13: Sophie Horacek (partially cut off), Christoph Schneider, Raphael Eser, Polly Agoridou and Will Kennedy (from left to right) preparing food, while Piotr Bienkowsky (right) is watching
Fig. 13: Sophie Horacek (partially cut off), Christoph Schneider, Raphael Eser, Polly Agoridou and Will Kennedy (from left to right) preparing food, while Piotr Bienkowsky (right) is watching
Fig. 14: One of the many, many delicious meals prepared on the fire
Fig. 14: One of the many, many delicious meals prepared on the fire

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Once the camp is installed, two people have the privilege of staying the night over on top of Umm al Biyara, usually enjoying the comfortable furniture, a compulsive dinner, drinking one or two glasses of tea, and watching a beautiful clear sky full of stars.

Fig. 15: Christoph Schneider (left) and Will Kennedy (right) testing the improved seat in front of the cave
Fig. 15: Christoph Schneider (left) and Will Kennedy (right) testing the improved seat in front of the cave
Fig. 16: On their nightwatches, Christoph Schneider (left) and Stephan Schmid (right) are always having a lot of fun but not many technical skills, that is why this „selfie“ is slightly out of focus ...
Fig. 16: On their nightwatches, Christoph Schneider (left) and Stephan Schmid (right) are always having a lot of fun but not many technical skills, that is why this „selfie“ is slightly out of focus ...

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our first week on Umm al-Biyara was also marked by the visit of a team from Spiegel TV, producing an episode of the popular show Terra X for ZDF (German TV). During almost one entire day there was intensive TV work going on on top of the hill.

Fig. 17: Spiegel TV installing their equipment near an excavation trench
Fig. 17: Spiegel TV installing their equipment near an excavation trench
Fig. 18: Stephan Schmid (center) and Matthias Wemhoff (right) being filmed, Christoph Schneider working in the background
Fig. 18: Stephan Schmid (center) and Matthias Wemhoff (right) being filmed, Christoph Schneider working in the background

Friday, March 21, 2014

While the excavation already started on Umm al-Biyara, the NEPP survey project will begin only in ten days. During that time, the NEPP participants already at Petra profit in order to explore the area around the NEPP.

Fig. 19: Laura Weis (left) and Juliane Schmidt (right) exploring Nabataean water installations
Fig. 19: Laura Weis (left) and Juliane Schmidt (right) exploring Nabataean water installations
Fig. 20: Laura Weis documenting Nabataean water installations
Fig. 20: Laura Weis documenting Nabataean water installations
Fig. 21: Home base for our team is, as always since 1988, Nazzal’s Camp in the middle of the site of Petra. Will Kennedy, Raphael Eser, Polly Agoridou, Laura Weis, Juliane Schmidt, Sophie Horacek and Piotr Bienkowski enjoying a tasty meal prepared by our highly esteemed cook, Aziza Suleiman al-Bdool
Fig. 21: Home base for our team is, as always since 1988, Nazzal’s Camp in the middle of the site of Petra. Will Kennedy, Raphael Eser, Polly Agoridou, Laura Weis, Juliane Schmidt, Sophie Horacek and Piotr Bienkowski enjoying a tasty meal prepared by our highly esteemed cook, Aziza Suleiman al-Bdool