Saturday, November 03, 2007

Building Foundations on Ancestors and Children

One of the most interesting features of Levantine Neolithic society involved burying the skulls of ancestors beneath floors. These skulls were often plastered to resemble the facial features of the deceased, and they at times had shells for eyes. The most famous examples have been found at 'Ain Ghazal, Nahal Hemer, and Jericho, where the two skulls below were found.

Two Plastered Skulls from Jericho, Pre-Pottery Neolithic B Period, ca. 8000-6000 BCE.

The Bible also makes reference to building foundations on relatives, but in this case, it is by sacrificing children. For example, Joshua curses Jericho after its destruction, and he says future foundations of the city will be laid "at the cost of his firstborn son" (Joshua 6:26). In the 9th century BCE, this prophecy comes true according to the author of 1 Kings 16:34, as a man named Hiel of Bethel rebuilds Jericho: "He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram."

After two years of not being able to do anything with our Katrina damaged house, we have begun working on repairing it. First we raised it. Then we've been working on the new foundation. Workers dug the new trench and put down plastic and steel rods. The plastic was to make sure the cement dried slowly, and the steel rods to make the foundation stronger.


At this point, I took some of my family's most treasured pictures, along with a bit of my father's ashes, and put them at the base of the foundation. Here you can see some of the pictures:

Pictures I Put At The Base Of Our New Foundation

I wanted in some fashion to invoke the spirit of my ancestors in this milestone in our recovery. I also wanted to acknowledge that my father and the people in the pictures played a big role in building my foundation. I believe that this will be the house in which we'll finish raising our kids, where we'll one day play with our grandkids, and where eventually Therese and I will die. So the foundation became more to me than just steel and concrete. I made it personal.

Last Tuesday we had the concrete poured, 12 inches above the steel rods. Here you can see Greg Abry near the machine that pumped the concrete through a tube.


Here you can see Mario above the tube where the concrete comes out, and you can see Oscar in the background.

Then the concrete dried, and now they're placing cinder block piers on the foundation, tied to it with metal rods.


Someday soon they'll lower the house onto the piers, and then the major interior renovations will begin. We hope to be back in the house by June 1, 2008. That will be the 17th anniversary of another important foundation, our marriage.


Sue said...

You should've asked, I could've sent a skull or two for you to plaster as well.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe in the Cult of the Severed Head, but there's nothing about me that is Middle Eastern. (Now the Cave Bear Skull culture of Northern Europe does fascinate me.)

Ya'll's house is looking good. Hope it doesn't take another half year to get home, but I didn't expect to be living in the shack for 26 months.

You are doing the right thing.

Now what about the mitigation grants?