Dr. Michael Fuller visited the Monastery of
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
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).