It is hard to describe the rhythm of life on Sai these days,
the rapidity with which the days of our second week here passed…
Although, the tasks of the protection of the site have
continued, the main activities since last Friday consisted in the beginning of
the excavation and in the recording of the masses of pottery that the soil has
gathered in the lapse of time.
The central area of the Cathedral of Sai has at its north
end three granite bases, possibly linked with the still standing columns but in
a position of secondary use. To the west of these, 25 quartzite boulders were
lying without an immediately obvious structural relationship, either between
them or with the bases. We had decided from before getting to Sai already that
this would have to be our main focus for the season 2010.
The reasons are simple: from a research perspective we would
get answers to the questions whether the bases are in any relation to an underlying
structure, and whether the bases and the quartz boulders were part of a
building or of a unit of related buildings, most probably in later times than
the actual use of the church indicated by the standing columns; and from a
practical point of view, we would start our excavation both from the seemingly
newest features on the ground and from the northernmost point of the site,
working with the direction of the prevailing north winds.
The strong guys had a difficult task removing the large
rocks that where on the surface.
Some dangerous creatures like snakes and scorpions were thus
deprived of their shelters.
With some technical assistance, the rocks were put on the
car and used to block the access to the site.
Meanwhile, the building of the permanent gates to the site
proceeded, and an artist has got the task of making the signs for the
redirection of the traffic and directions to the archaeological sites.
So, by Tuesday, we had removed the top soil from the whole
area surrounding the bases and boulders, and the first plan was drawn…
We spent the rest of the week excavating pits and
depressions on the site. By Thursday afternoon, we had collected more than 3
cubic meters of pottery from which the diagnostic shards have been categorized,
photographed and await the last days of our stay here to be processed a bit
further. We say ‘a bit’ for the work can actually take a whole season and even
more, and it should need the thorough study by a devoted individual.
So, the Medieval Sai project can obviously not be
implemented only by Henriette and Alexandros! And already our inspector from
the National Corporation of Antiquities and Museums, Sami, a dear friend by
now, our six workers, Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed, Salah Balah, Salah Nassur, Ramzi,
Hassan, and Saluh, and their Chief, Aiman, along with a couple of locals (always
eager to be photographed when the occasion appears!) are peopling the columns
of the Medieval Church of the Island of Sai…