As the first session draws to a close…

Michael Lee writes:

Midway through the second week I began to fear – confidently expect in fact – that most or all of the important work and significant finds would commence only after we had left.  This was a natural feeling, given how much of our first week was cleanup, and how quickly the second week flew by.

But luckily for Area H, or at least for one square, we completed our research goal today and uncovered something pretty neat: a cobblestone pavement that probably represents occupation level H-12 – which is what the Area supervisors said we were out to find in the first place.

So, a nice, tidy stopping point just before we have to depart, and the satisfaction of actually finding something.  A pavement (undecorated) may not sound very thrilling, but I’ve always had an interest in functional architecture – if you’ve ever seen a Roman road, and how it’s stayed in place for the last thousand years, it’s a thing of beauty.  What we’ve found is helping the layout of the level to emerge, and hopefully it’ll be even more impressive by the end of the season (and it beats sifting).

Yesterday I reviewed the small finds at the little mini-museum in the office.  My admiration was tempered by a small tinge of regret: after all, I would have liked to have found something really cool – in the spirit of the old Antiquarians and relic hunters that modern experts refuse to call real archaeologists.  But I didn’t, and so this trip falls just short of perfect.

Besides, that’s another lesson I was told before I came here: a discovery belongs to the team, and one can learn to take satisfaction in their teammates’ successes (otherwise you’re just digging in a hole by yourself, which will drive you insane).  And again, you learn to appreciate that you’re just part of a much larger, much longer effort (though I won’t say that a little sense of competition between Areas isn’t healthy).

A funny thing happened on Monday: someone yelled “ARTIFACT!” and everyone raised their heads as one to turn towards the yeller’s square – rather like in “Up!” when the hyper-intelligent hench-dogs are unable to prevent themselves turning and looking up whenever someone yells “Squirrel!”  We’re just that attuned to one another.  Today I still don’t know whether it was a false alarm or if someone was pulling our leg, but nothing came of it.


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