Friday, July 17, 2009

Where to Dig??

We pick a place to dig based on survey, landscape and any information we have been given by local landowners, shepherds and archaeologists. In this area our colleague DS (Northern Chalcolithic expert) had identified the site as part of a survey in this region. Once we have the field cleared (by goats or modern machine - see previous post) we lay a grid and then start to dig. This is the early stage of square L1:
In addition to the students we have three workmen from the nearby village of Sahknin. They have been working in L1 and so has Mo. We speak a mixture of Arabic, Hebrew and English in the square and usually we can come to an understanding, although Mo is not always sure what it is. Last week had a conversation about one of the guys getting married: either he was getting married or meeting with a Russian prostitute, turns out he did actually get married.
During the course of day we collect up all of the pottery (broken pieces of pots) and flint and basalt and take it back to where we are living to "process" - that means we wash, record and sort all of the finds. Below is a bucket of pottery ready to go back to the lab.
In order to entice people to pottery wash, which actually isn't that much fun, we put out coffee and tea. Not that the coffee is that great - Elite - a famous Israeli brand that I think only our pals J and M enjoy.
Here we are bagging up the dry pottery from the pervious day. Sometimes there are some interesting nuggets in the very dirty pottery - painted decoration, incisions and appliques. At times it is a bit like a treasure hunt, but mostly it is just a tedious part of the life of an archaeologist. Pottery washing is a good time to sit around and talk about the days events, or how we are going to proceed the next day and how we could improve on aspects of the recording system or excavating methodology. We try to be as inclusive as possible and ask for and encourage input from the students (both positive and negative). Sometimes we just argue about the merits of Harry Potter - preparing one of the students (AB) for her year in Cambridge. Or we just discuss the differences between Americans and Canadians, apparently there are many.
We have had a great couple of weeks. Everyone cheerfully carries out their assigned tasks. Last night we had movie night with popcorn and everyone crowded around Yo's laptop. We watched Star Wars (movie #4) but it was missing the final crucial Death Star scene - not sure it mattered since we had been playing a Star Wars drinking game . . . More adventures soon.


Avery said...

How I miss the chit-chat of pottery washing and the dank taste of Elite! Great to hear you had a successful season. Maybe next season I can work a 5x5 with Dr. Golden.

Yorke said...

We have a 5x5 picked out just for you!

WDW said...

Thanks for the updates and I should check your blog more often! Very sorry to hear that Yo and Mo will be separated again - it seems your lot in life :(