Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Brad's Adventure Part III

Another week’s come and gone. Happy Memorial Day. We’ve only got about a week of excavation left, with a couple of days of processing artifacts, and then we’re on our way home. It seems, though, that many of the students are already there. Field school sure does weed out the true archaeologists from the hobbyists and others. From the past 6 field schools, only about 5 students out of the average 20-25 each year actually go on to grad school or some kind of employment in an archaeology-related field. The Jordan groups actually seem to be less, maybe 2 or so. The exoticness of Petra and the Middle East becomes the attractor, not the archaeology, so there will always be those who’d rather be tourists than archaeologists. I really don’t care, as long as the work gets done, and done fairly well. However, it still is a “school” with a fairly steep learning curve, so it takes some time to get going.
As for my tomb, we’ve got 4 cists left, and Scott (another crew supervisor) and I will probably have to dig 1 or 2 ourselves, which isn’t bad at all. It’ll probably take us a day and a half to do one compared to the 3-6 it takes the students. Nothing really spectacular has been coming out of the graves—possibly because the families were less wealthy or because of looting. We have found a small crescent bronze medallion (corroded green), lots of potsherds, decomposing fragments of wooden planks, and lots of almonds (for some reason). But I’m more interested in the bones, the analysis of which I’ll probably have to pick up the slack also.
By the way, for those who are interested, our sites are located along the northern slopes and “tributaries” of Wadi Mataha (wadi roughly means a wash or arroyo, the verb mataha means “to draw water from a well”). I don’t have the exact UTM coordinates for my site, but the sites are all pretty much located between 736000-737000 E and 3358600-3358700 N—so a strip about 1km E-W x 100m N-S. Umm Sayhoun (“Mother of Plates”), the Bedouin village, is on a large ridge just to the north of Wadi Mataha, and Wadi Musa, the tourist town, is in the head-valley of the next canyon to the south/southwest that leads down into Petra . I’ve seen some satellite images that clearly showed Umm Sayhoun, but I can’t remember if they were rendered from Google Earth or not. Hope that helps out some of you who were wondering.

Wadi Araba (the Great Rift Valley) that divides Jordan and Israel, just south of the Dead Sea

classic Nabatean deity niche with columns, platform, and blank block representing the deity Dhushara

melting soft sandsone typical of the area

monastery on Jebel Haroun (Mount of Aaron), the traditional tomb of Aaron

still some green in such a desolate area

The Great Temple, Petra

The Monastery, Petra (the largest construction in Petra)

wall foundation and platform floor in front of our monumental tomb

plaster fresco and missing gold medallion (all of Petra was white & gold)

reconstructed neolithic house at Beidha (they were short in 10,000bc)
shrine at Little Petra
water channel flowing over a deity niche giving the water supernatural powers

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Learning to walk!!!!

So i was messing around with Emma the other day and was trying to see if she would stand on her own when all of a sudden she takes 2-3 steps towards me. i was shocked! So yesterday Mom and i went to visit Paul and Anita and see the baby and she decided to perform again for the people. I thought many would want to see this (especially her daddy..we miss you!!!)

Charlotte is such a beautiful baby and SO tiny! I can't remember Emma being that tiny! Anywho, it was so fun getting to see them and aunt toni and uncle stephen. All in all it was a good day.

Toni and Charlotte (grandbaby #14!!!)

Thank you Aunt Toni for the cute little outfit! Look how tiny Charlotte is and how chunky emma is! They grow so fast!

Doesn't Anita look GREAT?! Seriously Anita i was/am envious. I wish i looked half as good as you do when i came home with Emma.

The beautiful little Charlotte!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Adventures of Brad Part II

19 May 2008

So, the work continues in Wadi Mataha (the canyon where we’re digging). The crew working in front of the monumental tomb is uncovering large cut-stone walls that are extremely straight and perpendicular along with a large doorway and interior platform area made of fitted sandstone slabs. They’re also finding broken ceramic sherds literally by the thousands, but that is to be expected with Nabatean sites. Another crew is starting up work at a small shrine of some kind. I’ll pass on more info when I figure out exactly what they’re doing there.
O ur crew is about halfway done with our 12-cist tomb. All of the cist graves, so far, have been filled with scattered bones of multiple individuals, from infants to the elderly. We found a fragment of an upper jaw in one cist that only had one only well-worn tooth left, as all the other incisors and premolars had fallen out and their sockets had grown over. Other than the skeletal remains, nothing too special has been coming out of the graves, though—only a few ceramic sherds here and there, the rocks that once covered the bones, and fragments of wood on which they were probably laid. However, there is one cist that has shown some exceptional preservation, where we’ve found a large textile fragment (probably a burial shroud) with blue dye, a small blue glassware vessel (probably from Egypt), wooden planks with remnants of wooden pegs, rope, and a large portion of a body that had its decomposition arrested. We lovingly call him Mr. Fleshy, and he and the dirt around him smells like death. For some reason he wasn’t allowed to completely deflesh and was buried with some soft tissue still attached to the bones.
Other than the work in the field, I’m kept plenty busy supervising the analysis of all the human remains we’ve uncovered so far. Every cist is excavated by a pair of students who are then responsible for the analysis of its artifacts. Some cists only have 100 bones, others over 1000, but all of them need to get analyzed here before we leave the country. Speaking of which, tomorrow we’re busing down to Ma’an, the district (state) capital to extend our 1-month visas. In the past we’ve been able to send our passports to the police station in Wadi Musa (the tourist town outside of Petra ), but since the US has required fingerprinting of foreigners, other countries have retaliated with the same. Apparently Ma’an isn’t a happy tourist town, either, so we’ll see how it goes.
PS--The good news for the week is that we've found a wireless internet signal on the roof of our house, so that has automatically become the new hangout. So much for going incognito in third-world countries. Oh, and I'm growing a mustache for fun. I'll keep you updated.

mustache after 2 weeks

The Adventures of Brad

So for those of you who didn't know Brad is off on adventures with archeology in Jordan during the 6 weeks Emma and I are in PA. I thought I'd post pictures he's sent along with commentary from his emails. Hope you enjoy!

7 May 2008

Overview of large tombs

Large tomb facade and platform

Fox kits across from Brad's tomb

North cists in Brad's tomb

Outside of Brad's tomb

So, here’s my super-exciting trip so far. Things have been fun once we got to Petra, but getting here was slightly complicated. The flight over was way long. The food was no so bueno. The in flight entertainment was lacking. You had to pay $6 to watch a movie on the Delta flight and all the selections were R except for one kids’ movie, and on the Jordanian flight they had 2 movies that bombed at the box office, and I don’t even know what they were called. So I slept most of the way. 3 people lost luggage, which we finally picked up Mon, and customs confiscated our super-expensive surveying equipment, again which we finally got on Mon. The customs fiasco was basically a manager on a power-trip who said he needed a paper from “the Ministry” but didn’t even know what the paper was supposed to be or which ministry it was supposed to come from, and even though we’ve brought this equipment here a couple times before. Then getting the paper was the biggest bureaucratic goose chase and run-around I’ve ever seen and heard of. Luckily, I didn’t have to deal with the second half of it in Amman. Basically, everyone either didn’t answer, said to call someone else, contradicted themselves, or had no idea what was going on—or some combination of the above. We watched the Antiquities guy here in Petra on the phone for over 30 min with customs and Antiquities in Amman and not have a conversation for more than 2 min. Then, according to those who went to Amman to pick up the equipment, they had to visit with a dozen different people and get signatures from 2 dozen. Yes, some people had to sign it TWICE! In any case, were fine and good times were had by all. We’re staying in the same house that we were in 2005—a large 3-story cinder block house owned by an old friend of the project director. His family does the cooking, cleaning, and laundry for us, and we buy snacks and souvenirs from his son’s shop up the road. We’re in a little Bedouin village of a couple hundred or so with a couple of paved roads and plenty of dirt ones full of trash, donkeys, camels, dogs, goats, cats, their droppings, and tons of super-cute little dirty barefoot kids who know more English than I do Arabic. As for this year’s excavation, we’ve got two areas going right now and a third to open later. The other crews are working in front of a large tomb carved into the sandstone and are clearing off walls that surround a large entryway platform. My crew is excavating a small tomb with 12 cist-graves also cut into the sandstone. The cists are pretty messy, with looters, animals, and Bedouins paying visit through the millennia, but we’ve come down on a good layer of scattered human skeletal remains, rocks, and potsherds near the bottom of the first cist. So, I’ll be supervising the excavation of the tomb and the subsequent analysis of the human remains.
12 May 2008
Bedouin village of Umm Sayhoun, our house is far left

In front of the Treasury
Main Street Petra- shops, temples and palaces on both sides (find the UFO in the sky!)
Overview of upper Petra tombs

The high-class BMW model (you'll probably need to blow up the picture to get what he's talking about. Look on the forehead of the donkey)

So work continues this week as usual. We’re still plugging along in the same first cist grave that we’ve been in. Things just slow to a crawl when you have to photograph and draw 200+ bones in place and take them out one-by-one. We’ve decided that we’ll experiment with this cist as to methods and practice—which are most efficient—so hopefully the next ones will only take 2-3 days instead of 5-7. I still need to get some photos of our work in progress. In this grave alone, we’re probably dealing with hundreds of bones from 5 or so different individuals—all secondary graves, where they let the body rot clean and then bury the bones or move them around as they need (like Joseph’s bones taken back to Canaan in Genesis). Another good thing is that there’s probably enough bones here for a possible dissertation project at my next school, so we’ll see. We toured Petra on Friday, and I’ve attached some photos. They’re pretty much the same ones I took back in 2005, but now that I’ve got a digital camera, I won’t have to ration them. I also got took some video, but they’re way too big to send on (I think I’d have to keep them to 5 sec clips in order to). It’s been somewhat of a different experience, though, now that I’ve been here before and am a bit more familiar with everything—people, work, culture, food, language, living arrangements, Petra, etc. Last time was quite a culture shock at first. Well, I hope everyone’s well and Mom’s recovering quickly.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Forgot one

I forgot this one. This was only a few days after we got here. One night Emma was SUPER talkative and even though its a super old dictionary she's on, it looks like one of those really old family bibles and she appears to be preaching. i love that chubby baby!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thank you Eddie!!!!!

So i've always had to keep my video under a minute because anything larger under the blogger format isn't doable. But thanks to Eddie's post and a few trial and error run's i think i finally got it and now know how to upload You Tube stuff! Hizzah! SOOOO here's some video of Emma doing silly stuff during our time here. Hope you enjoy!

Here Emma is trying to bark back at the dog. She's her new pal.

Emma now likes pears but it took her a few tries. Note Grandpa's wheezy laugh in the background;)

So this is a funny thing Emma has been doing since we got here and it cracks us up EVERY time. She tenses her whole body and makes these "Oh no Mr. Bill!" type faces. It's great!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Back at home...well at grandmammy's and grandpappy's ;)

So Emmers and i made it safely back to PA. The picture above is from months ago but i found it on our old camera that we don't really use since the new one (but i'm using it now cause brad took the good one with him) and thought it was a nice trip down memory lane. Anywho i don't have much time, but just wanted to post some pics for the family and give you a quick update. Still no knee crawling but Emma gets around just fine and as you will see gets into EVERYTHING. I love it though, and we're having fun. I'll try and post a blog for Brad who is on a dig in Jordan. He's emailed some pics so i'll try and get those up when i get a spare moment.

Bath time and a new robe!

Getting acquainted. Emma loves the dog (actually i'm finding she likes any dog, even if it's madly barking at her and would likely eat her if it got a chance)...from a distance or at least on her terms. The dog could care less about her except when she thinks she has food or when my mom is giving the baby attention. The cat doesn't want to be bothered and is quite vocal about emma leaving her alone, luckily emma doesn't care about her and only has eyes for the dog.

it's been so fun watching my dad interact with emma. she's always making him laugh. if you look closely at the picture dad's face is getting red from laughing at Emma who was riding his knee like it was a pony. For the those of you who know my father very well it has been most enjoyable watching him get red like a cherry as he does his wheezy laugh and wipes tears away from his eyes. i love you dad!

obviously they have become the best of friends

climbing on a napping grandma

she's obsessed with pulling paper out of the recycle basket. She's being distracted by it while i write this post

This one was just last night. She helped grandpa wash the dishes after dinner and got incredibly wet doing it. She has a measuring spoon she's holding and she would scoop water up and sip it out of the spoon. Doesn't she look like Ben in this photo?

Emma and i celebrating mothers day

Is this not the cutest sundress? Grandma picked it out and Grandpa the shoes.
*just a side note, i always have her arms and legs covered because if i don't her eczema flairs up and she gets rashes all over...just in case anyone was wondering;)
We love you all and miss our family and friends back in UT, but i'm sure we'll all be surprised how fast the weeks will fly by. xoxo