Honoring ALE: A Photo Story Dedicated to the Basilica’s Workers

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Was ALE a stonemason working on the Basilica?

In a stroke of inspiration seventeen centuries ago—or in diligent observance of his duties—a worker on the Basilica site carved АЛЕ (ALE) on the base of a stone column for posterity to wonder: Were the letters part of his or his guild’s name, or did they convey a message to his colleagues? Was he accounting for the day’s work, and if so, why didn’t he sign his name in paint, a much more common method of exchanging worksite information?

Or can we speculate that ALE (Alexander?) was particularly proud of his work and communicating his authorship for future generations to admire?

We will never know, and ALE will remain one of the many mysteries of the Bishop’s Basilica of Philippopolis.

While this particular stone worker may stay anonymous, here we would like to acknowledge those who rolled up their sleeves and got their hands “dirty” over the past six years—the paid and unpaid workers who helped bring the Basilica back to life: archaeologists, restorers, masons, machine operators, cleaners, electricians, exhibit handlers, volunteers.

Crediting the work of all who lent muscle power to this project would cover a full basilica floor layer or fill a good-size book. This photo story celebrates them all and is a reminder that a project of such monumental proportions is the work of hundreds, if not thousands, of anonymous ALEs. While we may not know the names of all of them, here we capture some of their faces. Whether they shoveled sand, brushed away debris, connected electrical grids, assembled complex installations or machinery, or carried heavy objects, the contribution of each and every one of them is helping to write the newest chapter of the Basilica’s story.

Volunteers at the Basilica in 2015. Photo by Jeremiah Chamberlin

 

Jenny Tankova, lead archaeologist (2015–2019). Photo by Boyana Stoilova

 

Uncovering ancient mosaics requires a lot of sweeping

 

Volunteers tracing mosaics to mark their exact position

 

ABF senior management were frequent volunteers

 

Bay Ivan was technical supervisor on the Basilica site

 

Mosaic restorers at work

 

Sculptor Theodore Bonev and an assistant at the sculptor’s studio. A bronze model of ancient Philippopolis by Mr. Bonev can be seen in the outdoor area of the Basilica’s second level.

 

Volunteers helped remove the sand protecting the mosaics

 

Taking a short break

 

It’s all coming together

 

Making sure the wiring is as unobtrusive as possible

 

There are no impossible projects for Tsvetomir Mihaylov from Exit Advertising

 

All it takes sometimes is girlpower

 

Feeling good after a hard day’s work

 

A worker on the Basilica’s second level

 

Getting the second level ready for visitors

 

The team of London-based Science Projects created and installed the Discovery Zone for children and their families

 

The movers team

 

If you are looking for reliable movers, give us a call.

 

Watch your step!

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