My Closet Needs an Archeologist!

January 23, 2011 § 4 Comments

I had planned to play golf Friday. It rained, and not just a little drizzle–I’d play through that–but an out-and-out downpour since about 9:00 PM the evening before. Much needed, I’ll not deny that, but rain such as this makes quagmire of the low spots and confines golf carts to cart paths. Walking across a fairway to play a ball is one thing. Slogging is another. Therefore, I returned instead to the archeological expedition begun last week–my closet.

Any archeologist worth his trowel will tell you that a dig must operate with precision and care, lest any treasured bone or pottery sherd be thrown out with the dirt. I planned my “dig” by dividing my closet into three grids: left side (tops); right side (slacks/shorts/divided skirts/dresses); and floor (shoes and stuff). I covered the floor pile with an outcast mu’u-mu’u and mentally drew a curtain over the right side to protect it from the elements, and began on the left.

As I lifted hangers from the closet structure it sighed in relief. (Twenty-eight polo shirts? Really?) After washing and drying and sorting and tagging, I donated 5 bags of golfing and non-golfing knit tops in a variety of colors, and t-shirts from my travels–bought as souvenirs and never worn! May Good Will make good use of them! Selah!

[I now have more plastic hangers than I have polo shirts but I won’t be donating these. Their new job is to defend my now-more-roomy closet space from my husband’s creeping polo shirts.]

Friday I walked back into my closet, turned right, and uncovered the floor-section of the dig. This pile of rubble has patiently waited since my last attempt at closet-cleanout sometime last year–or the year before! Here lay clothes set aside for donation but never catalogued. First I washed and dried, and then stacked my neatly folded finds on the “sherd table” (the king-size bed) to await afternoon sherd-call–evaluation, division, bag & tag. 

You may wonder at my use of archeological phraseology. Though I never studied the subject in school or assisted on a dig, I must have the gene somewhere! My parents certainly did. I’ve sat through enough slide shows of their digs in Israel to have picked up more than a little knowledge: the backbreaking clean-out of last year’s dig; the knee-skinning troweling to loosen new dirt; the hand-paralyzing brushing off of a find. I’m afraid this is not me. But the sherd table? That I might have the patience for!

Mom and Dad spent several summers on a Baylor/New Orleans Baptist Seminary dig at Tel-Aphek, a site that lies south of Tel-Aviv on the old Roman road to Joppa. Dad dug and brushed and dug deeper into his square pit, finding intact terra-cotta urns and sherds of others. Each “find” he put in a bucket marked with his location. His buckets and those of other diggers were taken to the collection area.  

The head of archeology at Tel-Aviv U. went through each bucket, throwing out what he deemed useless, and then replacing everything in the bucket for washing and sorting. Mom watched the process, to learn from him what he saw and how he knew what to keep and what to throw out. When he had finished, she took each bucket and began to wash and dry.

As she put it, “a woman who abhorred washing dishes, now spent hours with her hands in soapy water!” 

One day, as the “sherdologist” went through one bucket, he picked up a squarish-looking rock, glanced at it and put it in the “trash” pile. After he left, Mother kept looking at it. “This isn’t a sherd, of course,” I imagine her saying. “But it’s interesting.” She put it into her soapy water and washed and gently brushed it. There was something there … an image?

When the professor returned Mom showed her “find” to him and he became ecstatic. What he had thrown out and she had rescued was a Babylonian kitchen goddess–Astarte–and a find-of-a-lifetime. This discovery became a “proof of the Babylonian Captivity” period and the return. Part of Israel’s history that had only been recorded in the Bible, now had proof of reality for those archeologist and historians who needed more than just a Biblical reference to believe a story was actual history.

That little millennia old archeologist’s dream is displayed in the museum at the University of Tel-Aviv, and standing at its side is a card: “… discovered by Mrs. Jester Summers, at Tel-Aphek … ” Now that’s exciting!

Not to be outdone, Dad kept digging down and down, until he uncovered paving stones. He had found the actual Roman road. The Summers left their mark on Israel’s history that year!

Will I find anything of value in my closet? Not unless you count SPACE TO WALK!

I’ve got the archeological bug now, though! Perhaps it’s time to think about a little actual digging expedition—like–IN THE GARAGE!


§ 4 Responses to My Closet Needs an Archeologist!

  • Judy says:

    My hubby always describes my desk as an archeological dig!

    Love this post, Mary Lois, especially since I’m now reading My Professor Says The Bible Is A Myth by Dr. Tom Triblehorn, about the faulty archeological chronology used today. We’re going to Israel in the Spring – maybe we can visit your Mom’s discovery!

  • http;// says:

    I like your connection between the humble closet and a historically important arhaeological dig.

    I can’t wait to see what you find to compare the garage cleaning to! (Remember that you will need a more epic analogy since the garage is bigger).

    Adrian Fogelin

  • Tricialafille says:

    The hills of the High Uintas are alive with the need for an archaelogist . . . namely OUR garage. Really nice post . . .

  • Claudette Parmenter says:

    Great analogy using archaeology. Hmmm, now you’ve inspired me to get busy starting my own closet digs. It’s all good. 🙂

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