Not Quite Squares

The first pictures from this season’s work at Megiddo reminded me of a rather weird “first day” during the 1973 season at Gezer. For a good part of the season a documentary film crew had been doing their thing. We were under instructions to “act normal” and “ignore them” unless asked to do otherwise. These instructions were not always easy to follow. Try to ignore a massive, hooded, movie camera lens six inches from your face while you were eating or brushing your teeth.
Near the end of the filming of the documentary, Joe Seger asked if I’d take my crew along with the staff surveyor somewhere out on the tell where we’d do no harm and reenact the start of an excavation for the camera. The plan was to lay out a few squares, cut back any brush, and perhaps dig a small probe in one corner.
I chose an area of the tell that Macalister had excavated and destroyed early in the twentieth century.
The next morning, my crew, the film crew, and the surveyor, Mitch, all arrived at the appointed place and time. The director and I had a little conversation in which I told him that the first step would be to the run a north-south line and then an east-west line from a make believe benchmark, actually nail that I had more or less arbitrarily stuck in the ground. He asked if we could make the north-south line run more in the direction he was pointing, about 20 degrees off north south. “The lighting would be better.” Fine, we extended the first line in that general direction. So far so good. With cameras and sound still rolling, I asked Mitch to make a 90 degree sighting at the benchmark so we could run our first “east-west” line. And so he did and so we did and the director called out “Cut!”
90 degrees off the first line wouldn’t look right in perspective. I reminded him that he had been filming square squares for the last couple of weeks. He appeared pleased that I was aware of the burden that this had caused him. He hoped that I would be willing to layout these make-believe squares more to his liking. And so, after a few trials, we found the angle that best suited his aesthetic requirement and proceeded to layout four trapezoids pretending they were squares. But then, after all, it was a pretend first day.
The edited documentary opens with about 5 seconds our efforts. The lighting and perspective were perfect.