Re-building walls

Hello again. I’m on a roll, three posts in a row! This one is a little shorter, but still exciting. Today we went to the ancient Rashbi synagogue at Meron and started mortar conservation of a wall. The wall has lots of holes and almost no mortar, and could easily collapse. We cleaned the wall of vegetation and debris, mixed the lime mortar, collected rocks and fit them into the spaces, and applied the mortar to the holes in the wall where we put in the rocks. We were only able to finish a small portion of the wall, but we are going again on Thursday and should be able to finish it. We had to be extra careful doing work in the holes since they are prime locations for snakes, scorpions, and other hazardous creatures. We did find a scorpion, a fairly large one. When the end of the day came you could clearly see our progress in the wall, and (in my opinion) the places where we had done work looked like a professionally-conserved ancient wall. I am greatly looking forward to Thursday when we can finish the work and see the entire thing completely filled with mortar.

Can you find the differences between the first photo and the next two?

When we got back to Akko we had a(nother) tour of the old city, this time with the Chief Engineer who worked with the conservation teams in the city when all of the conservation work was done. He worked in the Hospitaller Fortress and many of the houses, and explained the conservation process from an engineering point of view. He talked about the different methods used in restoring the Citadel, as well as some of the Crusader and Ottoman architectural features that can be found throughout the city. While a lot of his tour was repetition from the other tours we have been given of Old Akko, some parts of it were new. One of the things that he told us that I found really interesting was that the southwestern part of the modern city is built on top of two-story Crusader ruins built of massive vaults. All of that area is filled with debris and sand underneath the modern houses and buildings, unexcavated and hidden from the public. I thought that was really cool. Other things he mentioned were small details about how buildings were constructed that people (including me) don’t notice unless they are specifically told about it. Examples of that are the artificial entrances created in the Hospitaller Fortress to make it tourist-friendly are all cut in diagonals, or that most corners in the streets are cut to make rounding the corners easier. These were things that I had never realized or noticed until he brought our attention to them. Every time we have another tour of the city we learn new things, even when we think we won’t.

Written by Ben Douglass, Saving the Stones 7 Intern

Reposted from Ben’s Israel Blog

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