Classics major Kate Petersen ’11 (Walnut Creek, Calif.)—a veteran of Macalester’s archeological excavation at Omrit—stayed in Israel last summer to work as a conservation intern at Jerusalem’s Israel Museum, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls.
How did she get the internship? I told [classics] Professor Andy Overman that I wanted to learn more about cultural heritage and preservation, and he mentioned this amazing opportunity. Andy’s been such an advocate for me.
Her home: I lived by myself in a basement apartment in Talpiot, right off the road to Bethlehem. It’s a quiet residential neighborhood that shuts down from Friday afternoon until Saturday night for Shabbat—no buses, no people, no nothing. I learned to get up early on Fridays to get things done in the city center.
Her supervisor: The main bosses were the head of the objects conservation laboratory and the curator of Hellenistic, Greek, and Roman art.
Her area of the museum: I worked in the conservation lab that deals with non-metal, non-organic materials such as stone, ceramic, and plaster. The other labs deal with paintings, paper, wood, metal, glass, and textiles. The four main labs are clustered together around a courtyard near the archaeology offices on the Israel Museum campus.
Her work: Everyone in the lab is working on artifacts from Herodium [Herod’s palace fortress] in preparation for the huge Herod exhibit opening in a year. My main project was restoring a large-scale geometric floor mosaic from a bathhouse at Herodium. We cleaned and varnished the pinkish limestone and black bitumen fragments, filled in gaps with gypsum plaster, and painted the plaster to resemble the original. I also worked on piecing together fragments of a frieze from the VIP theater box at Herodium, as well as what is probably the sarcophagus of Herod himself.
What’s next? I want to continue to learn about archaeological conservation. I’ll start applying to conservation programs before too long.