This past week was fascinating and unimaginable. Let’s begin with my daily routine. First, we wake up at 5:30am where we are served coffee and croissants (Italian coffee is amazing). Then, we head out to the excavation site by car and hike up a very steep hill. It certainly gets your blood pumping! At the top lies the ancient site. We are each divided into teams or given solo jobs, and we are each given tasks. I’ve learned so much already because the professor makes sure you try all jobs. I pickaxed, shoveled, and scraped around ancient pottery that was too fragile to take out by pickaxe. It’s extremely fun to pickaxe the soil because it’s gratifying to be productive. So far, I have found about 30 pieces of pottery that date to over 1,000 years old! Occasionally I will find a bone, which is most likely an animal bone because they’re pretty small. Then, we have a second breakfast of more coffee and cookies at around 9:00am. We work some more, eat lunch, and then wash the pottery that we found that day.
Not only do we find pottery, but we find other artifacts that can show us how these ancient people lived. One girl in the program uncovered a large pot with small stones placed around it in a circular fashion, so my professor thought it could be a tomb. Today, the pot was tediously scraped and brushed. Before we knew it, bones were appearing in the pot. Turns out, they were bones of a baby. It’s sad to think how this child passed away, but it’s so fascinating to witness such an uncovering, especially because I have a special interest in osteology–I hope to be able to study bones because the information we can obtain from them is very important.
Also, I work in various sections of the site and always have the opportunity to uncover different types of artifacts as well. The other day, two of the girls and I were trying to figure out where a stone wall led by pickaxing the dirt around it. We ended up finding a threshold! We knew it was a doorway because there was a gap in the wall with a tile floor in between. I wish I could post pictures, but I can’t post specific artifacts and structures since they aren’t published yet. It’s important to know the laws of archaeology and I’m glad to learn some on this excavation.
We also learned to “level” the site. First, we set up at tripod at a reference point. Someone then held up a meter stick at a specific structure while another person looked through the magnifying lens on the tripod to read the height measurement. We do this for all the different levels of ground that we uncovered so we can use it to relatively date the artifacts and structures found in each layer! The layers of dirt that are lower should be older than those layers on top of them. It’s really fascinating stuff and I enjoy it a lot.
There are a lot of technical aspects of archaeology that you’d need to be aware of if you want to be an archaeologist, like learning how to set up the tripod or how to dig so that artifacts won’t be destroyed in the process. It can get complicated, but at the end of the day, I know I’ve learned so much and will only learn more from experience.