Day 4 of Second Week of Excavation, Day 9 of Excavation overall, Day 10 of the Expedition

Michael Lee writes:

I am only now appreciating the enormity of the task of archaeology.  We have been excavating for a week and a half, and only now are certain squares of Area H beginning to hint at signs of what we are looking for (Level 12, the destruction layer associated with the end of the Late Bronze Age, unless I’m wrong).  Scattered finds are turning up, but only recently have we started to sift our fill – indicating that everything we have moved until now has been dull, old earth.

I was in the field office yesterday, and perused photos of Area H from the 1996-2002 reports; the area is just beginning to define itself, and appears only a few feet deep.  Obviously, they made what looks like great progress between then and now.  My site supervisor says ours is the most exciting area of the tel.

Yesterday, Day 3, we had to knock off early due to a gust of wind that blew our sun shade down.  Thus reinforcing one of the few maxims of archaeology I learned before coming here: something unexpected always happens.  If you’re lucky, the something is some unexpected discovery that radically alters your research goals but presents you with exciting new information to process – looking for a house but finding a temple, or, like one archaeologist in Florida, investigating some local Native American mounds, then discovering that the course of a river had been altered and finding the location of a disappeared Civil War fort.

Am I having fun?  Sometimes I’m not sure.  So much to do, and so little time, and even after a week of training, I still feel like a stock character in an issue of Punch – “always getting in other people’s way and being shouted at.”  But, like most adventures, the best memories come after they’re over.  And anyway, I’m still nowhere close to missing the law firm.


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