“If I create from the heart,
nearly everything works;
if from the head,
~ Marc Chagall ~
© 2017 nightpoet all rights reserved
~ Marc Chagall ~
© 2017 nightpoet all rights reserved
© 2015 nightpoet all rights reserved
The weather today was beautiful. Still too warm for this time of year here, but crisp and chilly and, best of all after a lot of gray days, sunny. I spent most of the day inside the Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church) photographing three 17th century graves and their skeletons that the excavation team had exposed and prepared for documentation as part of the ongoing excavations of what has become one of the most important church excavations in Germany.
When I was seven years old I wanted to grow up and become a paleontologist or an archaeologist. If you had asked me why, I would have said, “Because they get to do cool stuff.” My dream came true later in life and indeed, in pursuing my career over the last 28 years I certainly have done a lot of cool stuff. Today was no exception. And I’m not even talking about the documentation I was doing of the graves.
Documenting the three graves involves taking an awful lot of photos, so when the lunch break came around and my colleagues stopped to eat, I kept on working. About ten minutes into the break three of my colleagues from our bureau stopped by to have a quick look at the excavation’s progress. The gentleman who does the restoration work on the find material, one of the ladies who does the scientific scaled illustrations and layout for our publications and one of our excavation technicians had come by on their way to a special excursion and asked me if I wanted to join them. When they explained to me where they were headed I immediately stopped what I was doing, turned out my photo lights, put an empty Compact Flash card in my camera and off we went. You might say that this was going to be a once in a lifetime chance and I wasn’t going to pass it up.
It seems that our object restorer is friends with the master stonemason who is working on the restoration of the St. Martin’s Cathedral in Mainz. It is located just across the street from the Johanniskirche. We were invited to take two different lifts up almost 80 meters of scaffolding to the top of the dome, where they were working on restoring and cleaning the red sandstone structure. Not the kind of thing you would want to do if you get dizzy from heights. I talked a week or two ago here on the blog about having often to climb up construction cranes and scaffolding or dangle on wobbly cherry pickers to take photographs of excavation sites. So I am used to the heights and it doesn’t bother me. Last year in Paris I danced around the two levels of Notre Dame and earlier this year I finally went all the way up Mr. Eiffel’s Tower. Today’s adventure was going to be similar.
The cathedral in Mainz is more than 1000 years old, the first foundations being laid in 975 AD, and is the result of centuries of active building work by Mainz archbishops and canons. It is located at the center of Mainz’s old town on the west bank of the Rhine and is an attractive tourist destination. Extensive general renovations of the inside and outside of the cathedral were first outlined in 1997. Then in March 2001, renovation work finally began with the erection of scaffolding on the north-side flanking tower of the east section. Work was divided into separate renovation stages and a cost estimate was made. The total renovation of inside and outside the cathedral was estimated at 25 million Euros (which was 50 million Deutschmarks at the time). The renovations were planned to last for 15 years. And they are still continuing.
We were taken up the scaffolding in two different lifts by the master stonemason and shown the kind of restoration work they were doing. And of course, we had the luck of a beautiful, relatively clear day with an excellent view of the city and surrounding area. While we were up there the huge bells rand once for 1:15 pm and twice for 1:30 pm. Naturally they were quite loud. I was always glad that I wasn’t up in the towers of Notre Dame when those bells started pealing. After a half an hour we took the two lifts back down and returned to work. On the very top of the dome is a weather vane in the form of a golden rooster, ruling his roost with a view of the entire city. Needless to say it was a special treat to be taken up and to have had the chance to share his wonderful view. I hope that the photographs below will give somewhat of an indication of what it was like.
In this view from the top of the scaffolding on the dome one can see, directly behind the west Mainz Cathedral tower, the Johanniskirche, where our excavation is taking place and in which I was photographing the graves.
This is the view over the Rhine to the northeast towards the Taunus mountains. Wiesbaden lies at the foot of the mountains to the left and center of the photo. The bridge spanning the river is the Theodore Heuss bridge.
This last view is towards the northwest. The building in the center of the photo is the Mainz State Theater. Notice the solar panels on the roof. There is an earlier post on this blog about our excavations of a Roman bathhouse that was found in the construction site when they added a new addition behind the theater in the 1990’s.
© 2014 nightpoet all rights reserved