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  • Writer's pictureE Stegmaier

St. Eustatius Airport Expansion Project: Day 6 (April 26, 2021)

Until our quarantine ends this weekend (provided we all pass our antigen tests), I'll be working non-stop. Went to the site for the first half of the day and worked through lunch. This gave me a chance to draw a fairly complex feature in time for everyone to return from the Science Center and continue excavating. Being alone on an archaeological site, particularly this one, is surreal. I finished the drawing about 25 minutes before everyone returned, so I got to sit and just...contemplate.

I don't know if archaeologists or the more science-based specialists ever get out of the technical and analytical zone long enough to feel what is happening in the moment. Typically there isn't a whole lot of time for anybody on site to get into that zone, so to have that 25 minutes or so today was a gift. Maybe it's because, as technical as I can be, I'm an artist at heart. In the coming weeks, what I am talking about will become much clearer, but suffice to say it was an overwhelming and powerful experience.

The only other time I experienced that feeling was at Qumran, Israel in 2002. I walked the steps of what remains of the tower at sunrise, which overlooked the remnants of the scriptorium. The room is believed to be where the Dead Sea Scrolls were written. At the same time, renowned archaeologist Hanan Eshel, was praying in the scriptorium. I silently watched, likely unbeknownst to him, as the sun came up over the Dead Sea. I don't know what it was, but I could not take my eyes from him in prayer. Had I encountered him in any other setting, I don't think the moment would've resonated with me the same way. But being at Qumran, with Hanan Eshel, in such a personal space was indescribably special.

I don't think I ever mentioned that story to anyone before, because I knew- even at the time, that there was no way to describe that scene in a way that would accurately capture how I felt or how intangibly special the moment truly was. I certainly didn't convey it here. Incidentally, I bumped into Hanan again in 2009, and I meant to tell him personally about that moment, but I thought, "Oh, I'll see him again at some point. I'll just tell him then." I never did get that chance, as he passed away the following year.

Anyway, I digress... there isn't much I can write about today's work, except to say that it was DEFINITELY work! Tomorrow I'll hang back to finish a few drawings, at least for the first half of the day. I have to see how things progress at the site tomorrow morning to determine whether I'm needed there in the afternoon.

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1 Comment

courtney smith van rij
courtney smith van rij
Apr 28, 2021

Incredibly moving...thank you for sharing the personal moment you had today along with your story about your friend in the scriptorium...fascinating and powerful. That you recognized those moments, and really understood how big they were, is beautiful and special

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