Dr. Michael Fuller visited the Monastery of Hamatoura in the Wadi Kadesha of Lebanon on 4 June 2004. Monk Issac ate lunch with Professor Fuller, Ghiath Abdullah, and Mahmud. The lunch provides wonderful ethnoarchaeological evidence to help interpret the Area 9 monastery refectory at Tell Tuneinir.

A vaulted hall in the monastery is used as the refectory of eating meals.

The lunch table was set up with a metal bowl containing onions and lemons (limes and lemons are not differentiated in the Middle East). Two plaster contains on the table contained olives and rose flavored jam. The glass briq (Arabic, drinking container) contained water and a set of 4 plastic bottles contained olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

Fresh Mishmish (Arabic, Apricots) were put in a blue plastic bowl and placed in the middle of the table.

A metal bowl of fresh coldslaw made from cabbage was placed on the table for everyone to share. Recipes for flavored cabbage dishes are found in Kitah Wasf al-Atima al-Mutada (Arabic, The Description of Familiar Food) containing recipes from at least the 13th century and borrowing from the 10th century cookbook entitled Kitab al-Tabikh (see the contributions of Charles Perry in Medieval Arab Cookery, 2001, Propsect Books).

The main dish for the lunch was a vegetarian stew containing fava beans, peas, cut green pea ponds, small amounts of onion (for flavoring?), pieces of artichoke. The stew was served on boiled white rice.

Bread is a staple of any meal in the Middle East and commercially produced flat bread was provided at the lunch.

A semi-dry white wine was served with lunch. It is made by Monk Marcus. One glass was poured for each quest. They monastery purchases its grapes from local growers, but do their own crushing, fermenting and bottling.

An olive oil lamp illuminated the refectory in the area where the abbot and monks dine.

A devotional book rests near the Abbot chair in the refectory.

Small brass bell (sorry that the image is slightly out of focus) next to the abbot's chair in the refectory. This closely parallels the small bell found in Area 10 at Tell Tuneinir.

Ghiath Abdullah volunteers to help by washing dishes in the kitchen which is next to the refectory.

A large (approximately 20 liters?) of prunes had just been cooked in the kitchen of the monastery.

Monk Issac outlines a normal day in the monastery:
4:00 AM Wakeup
4:30 AM Prayers for 1.5 to 2 hours
6:30 AM Return to their own room for prayer and their own rule
8:00 AM Food
8:30 AM Monks return to their specific work
2:00 PM Meal
2:30 PM Independent study or non-strenuous work
6:00 PM Sunset Prayers
7:00 PM Free time
8:00 PM Night prayers
9:00 PM Each to his own room

Click here to see images of the Abbot and Monks of Hamatoura.

Click here to see images of the Monastery and Church at Hamatoura.

Click here to see images of Refectory and Lunch at Hamatoura (many parallels to the Area 9 refectory at Tell Tuneinir!!!).

Click here to see images of Cave at Hamatoura (a must see for students of Paleolithic art and archaeology).