|Crusader Column in Bethlehem|
Just about everything about the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is sad. Bethlehem is such a choked place, existing now behind the wall. But these weathered (don't they almost look torn?) marble columns of the Crusaders I find especially moving. Fading witnesses. There are something like 24 of them that line the basilica plan of this old, old church. Their faded glory also bespeaks some kind of crazy experimentation in medieval painting: who paints (in tempera?) on marble??? I need to look up the work of Jaroslav Folda to get the full details. But it's Da Vinci painting in oils on frescoe avant-la-lettre: an attempt to do something grand and new with something old and grand. I don't think that there's any hope of restoration, either technically or financially, and so they're going to keep on fading, these stones, until they will go back to just hewn and unadorned - the smooth surfaces of the Romans that the Crusaders had sought to embellish.
|Sifting at Beit Guvrin|
|Inside a cave at Beit Guvrin|
And so when you're done digging, you go inside one of the undug caves and realize for yourself the unbelievable amount of work that remains (there are dozens of these caves), and the incredible potential for discovery - for more artifacts, more traces of human presence, more evidence of struggles and triumphs. This hallway, for example: incredibly hewn. Carved out not by archaeologists but by the original inhabitants. I spread my fingers out on those marks, too.
|Entrance Gate of the City of Dan|
|City of David, Jerusalem|
There are many stones in Israel - I could keep going (plus, I love to type and say "hewn") and wondering specifically about stones as witness to history that we will to speak through archaeology, through our presence. They move, it's true, because they move us.