Posted by: thedirtybaker | July 13, 2011

Archaeobureaucracy? Bureaurchaeology? Frustration in the Warehouses

When I left Karei Deshe in Basil’s rental car taxi (see post from June 24), I went to

Beit Shemesh is about halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

my sister’s apartment in Ramat Beit Shemesh.  I’d arranged with the keeper of the Iron Age materials in the Antiquities Authority warehouse to go look at the stuff from the site up north, and hopefully to get access to one more object from Ashkelon.  Unfortunately, she had thrown out her back, and wasn’t coming in to work.  Her counterpart in a later period helped me out instead, as did the man in charge.

My sister was serving as a research assistant.  I wasn’t sure how that dynamic would work out – she’s 8 years older than me, and not used to me being in charge.    It turned out to be fine.  I primarily had her helping me look through boxes, which didn’t require much knowledge.  (Most of the boxes contained pottery, which was clearly not jewelry.)

I very quickly found two boxes of small finds, including jewelry, but it turned out to be less than half of what was I needed.  I measured, photographed, and recorded those objects, but was unable to find the rest.  It also turns out that they close at 3.  Nice.  They promised to look for more material from that site, but basically sighed and rolled their eyes at the prospect of getting the pendant from the other site.  Apparently, that material hasn’t been sorted yet, though it’s been there for over a year.  (Granted, they’re understaffed, but the materials were brought to them because they have better conditions for metal storage.)

I was told that they would have workers search for the materials (we checked all the lower shelves, but didn’t have a ladder for the higher ones), and to call two days later.  Two days later (Tuesday), I was told to call again the next afternoon.  When I called on Thursday morning, they said they had found more.  By that point, it had to wait until after my trip to Europe.

The Little House in Rechavia hotel (downloaded from their website)

I headed on to Jerusalem after the warehouse closed on Sunday, and to my hotel, The Little House in Rechavia (a Gallery Hotel) – a great small hotel.  It was clean, the service was great, and the breakfast was very good.  The location, in quiet but central Rehavia, is fantastic, and I was able to check out all of the changes on Azzah street, where I used to spend a lot of time (most of it waiting for the bus).

The real reason that I was in Jerusalem on a dig’s dime was to go look at the materials in the Jerusalem branch of the Antiquities Authority, and to go back to Beit Shemesh easily (though that didn’t work out as planned).  I was supposed to find about 10 objects there.  I found about 6 of them, and the woman in charge insisted that was all they had.  She freaked out when she saw me taking pictures, as I did not have official permission to do so.  Fortunately, she allowed me to take them, and accepted that I’d get the directors of the dig to send her an email giving me permission to take photos.  (They did, in impressively official-sounding English.)  After all, I was working on publication of materials, which is important to the IAA.  I spent the

The Albright Institute (downloaded from their website)

afternoon visiting and working at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, where I lived and studied for a year, 9 years ago.  The rest of the week was a waiting game, with some online/ library work, shopping and a lot of walking around Jerusalem.  So the next few posts will probably not be work-related.  🙂

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