My current site-specific art project is intervening in the time lines of actual Tells [mounds] and archaeological sites around the Mediterranean. I am visiting Herculaneum.
It is not what imagined.
It is cloudy and a bit drizzling as we walk down words on a paved path into the small town of Herculaneum.
The sea is blue as ever and the dark cypress trees make the sky look pale.
I notice that there are two layers of housing: the ancestors who lived once on the ground floor at sea level.
New life is seated on a cemetery.
It does not feel like any other archaeological site I ever visited before. It is more like a ghost town – not remains.
I sense the agony.
My hand searches the shards at the depths of my bag, and chooses one without seeing.
I lay a ceramic key in a small wall opening that was once lavishly covered with colorful tiles.
It feels humble and not too intrusive.
It feels as if I am abandoning a piece of me behind.
An hour later it is still there.
It is sheltered from the rain.
I peek through glass doors and see piles of ceramic shards and working tools.
A key to Alexandria Library is left with gratitude on the doorstepfor the archaeologists working at the site.