Life as an Archeologist

Many people often wonder what it is we actually do when we are gone for long periods of time.  Well to start off my week, we work for five and a half days a week.  We start on Mondays waking up at 4:30 am. and getting in our vans to go to the site at 5 am.  We work until 11:30 am. with a break around seven for tea and coffee, then another break for breakfast around nine.  Also, sometimes during this time, we wash pottery from 6-noon.  When we get back to the site around noon, many of us either go and take showers right away, or do some other duties such as, wash pottery/bone, categorize artifacts, or try to take a quick nap before lunch at 1 pm.  We eat lunch either in a local factory or in our front yards.  Then three o’clock comes around and that’s normally the time people can either choose to go to a nearby pool or stay back and catch up on some paperwork or take another nap.  I prefer to take naps unless it’s ungodly hot outside.  Five o’clock is normally the time where as a big group we wash pottery buckets for an hour and a half, then have some supper.  Supper is normally the last thing on our agenda unless we have a lecture by one of the directors, but that normally happens on Tuesdays.  On Saturdays, we work for a half day, so we are done by nine.  With the end of our week being Sunday, this is our day for a whole day of traveling and doing touristy type things.

Now, what is it we exactly do?  Well to start, we want to figure out the best plan of attack to best date the evidence we find.  What I mean is that we would either use pickaxes, or our small towels to take away some of the dirt.  When we find a new soil layer that we believe to be older than what we were previously digging, we will start a new system of dating the material we find.  For example, we will use pickaxes and hoes to take away large amounts of dirt at one time.  We will remove any large rocks we see and use a metal rectangle that has some weaved wiring at the bottom called a sifter to sift through the dirt to find evidence such as pottery, bone, and glass.  When we come along some more important material such as plaster, which is what the Romans would use to put their paintings on or use as a water sealant, we would be more delicate with that and use our towels or brush to gently scrape away the dirt. When we have all of our evidence, we separate them into buckets based off of our different floor levels.  We also take elevations of our floors to see how much progress we have made in digging down as well as pointing out key features that are in our indiviual digging squares.  IMG_0892


This one word is definitely the second best part of my day.  The first would have to be the way the sun rises over the mountains in the morning.  Another addition to my awesome mornings is how the big bright moon settles above the temple.  It’s all so peaceful and quite as we begin to set out our squares and begin pickaxing and hoeing away the dirt to uncover the past.  Though waking up at 4 am isn’t the easiest thing in the world, the way the sun rises makes my entire day.

Now, to focus on breakfast.  My breakfast usually consists of cucumbers, tomatoes, bread and sometimes eggs, depending on if they are brought out to the site or not.  If you know me I absolutely love vegetables.  Yet, having these food items every day for over two weeks now, it doesn’t have that same flare like it use to.  I recently called my mother to tell her about my adventures and how much fun I’ve been having since I came here and I made sure to tell her one thing I don’t want when I come home.  A list that contains these food items: cucumbers, tomatoes, bread, eggs, and chicken,  lots of chicken for lunch and dinner.  In all, my mornings have been great, unless it’s over 100 degrees out, but like I said, the way the sun rises and how the moon is positioned.  I’d have to say it’s the best way to start any day.