Over the past couple of weeks the team have been setting up our new storage unit and helping move, re-box and re-categorise thousands of our finds. Its been hard work, hot, dusty, humid and involved heavy lifting and the construction of shelving units. But under Julie's watchful eye, the team have also found some humour.
When organising and stacking a storage facility full of finds one must plan and visualise the layout.
The container layout needs to be orderly and welcoming for all.
There was even an inquisitive visitor who wanted to join in the fun!!!!
Sorting out a shipping container is fun, but not like cruising the high seas.
Friendly locals ready to offer a massage after a day of working in the storage facility.
The final pack up. Farewell until next year.
Here in Paphos, the theatre site we are working on is one of many local tourist attractions and a couple of times a day, the bright red hop-on hop-off Paphos Sightseeing Bus pulls up briefly just outside the fence, while what sounds like a recorded voice-over plays to its occupants. Perhaps this is a small taste of what being in a zoo feels like?
Sometimes we wave, and they wave back. Sometimes they take a photo. And sometimes people walking past will hang around the gate, curious about the site and what we are doing there. Often a member of the team will go over and have a brief chat – public archaeology and engagement unfolds quite naturally without a formal plan, and the curious visitor leaves satisfied and wishing us well, both interested and surprised that so many of us are volunteers, most of us Australians, from halfway across the world.
Paradoxically, I suspect it is that very distance from Europe that draws so many contemporary Australians to the history and culture of Europe. Because while people from all over the world have migrated to Australia since 1788; under British rule, and particularly under the White Australia Policy (which was in force from around 1901 to 1966) the vast majority of migrants were ethnically and culturally European. Their 21st century descendants are Australian citizens who cannot return for good - to the land of their forebears - without dual citizenship or permanent residency….. perhaps a parent or grandparent who was born overseas….
In contrast, the majority of tourists and foreigners in Cyprus are EU citizens from the UK and Russia/Eastern Europe – here primarily to soak up the sunshine they don’t get enough of back home. And it strikes me that given these differences, it is strangely appropriate that we are looking at each other, curiously, from both sides of the fence. And that it is the mostly Australian volunteers and archaeologists that are on display in this particular exhibit.
- Geraldine Higginson
On 28 October, Alpha TV broadcast a story about our excavations. We welcomed report Maria Tsangari to the site and were thrilled to see ourselves on TV! Here is the link to the story.
With a pouring of a wine named ‘Aphrodite’ as a libation, the first trench was opened at Paphos 2019 a few weeks ago.
Gathered around was our dig director, Craig Barker (close your eyes, and he sounds like Russell Crowe), trench leaders with decades-long archaeological experience in far-flung locations, student volunteers, couples who had met on previous digs and gone on to forge lives in archaeology, lecturing and art (and bring their 4 and 2 year old children to the dig!), not to mention opera singers, writers, former teachers, scientists, policewomen and academics.
Over the ensuing days, in the still hot autumn weather, we worked along-side each other - digging and excavating in the morning, or grouped around buckets of pottery in the afternoon, scrubbing sherds one-by-one.
With our trench leaders’ exhortations in our ears, we were reminded to dig across, not down; go from the known to the unknown; watch for changes in context; and dig systematically. Friendly chats or moments of focus were most commonly broken by a shriek of excitement from an enthusiastic student coming across a find: ‘OMG, it’s so cool!’
And who could deny that frisson of excitement from the strike of your trowel off a hoped-for Roman road, the flash of colour from a Medieval pottery sherd or the realisation that you had found the magic number of rocks – three i.e. a wall!
Unfortunately I had to leave towards the end of Week 3 - I was told I would avoid the Week 4 blues, and the panic and closure of Week 5. But Paphos gets under your skin and like many others before you, you know you’ll be back.
My lasting memory will be of our first dinner, in the cool of the early evening, in the orchestra of the ancient theatre. You could almost imagine what it might have been like 2,000 years ago, relaxing and laughing as the sun set, being touched in the surrounds of this awe-inspiring building by the sublime.
This season the sorting tables are laden as we examine our assemblage of material from past seasons, and make important links towards interpreting the site.
The sorting tables on an excavation act as a hub where material that has been dug from the site is grouped together and interpreted visually, and significant observations about the assemblage are made. The tables also serve as a station where key collection management and care can be carried out.
Boxes of finds from past seasons are are being unpacked at the tables, and finds are being laid out according to their trench and deposit number. Finds are being grouped within this according to ceramic and object type, e.g. Amphorae, Roman Red Slip, Cooking Ware; architectural fragment, tesserae, etc.
Finds specialists from the team have been examining each deposit to establish a rough relative chronology, and to earmark key objects for addition to our inventory system and later, possible conservation and publication. It's also at the sorting tables that interesting links such as adjoining pieces of pots, or relationships of objects between and across deposits can be most clearly seen.
Once this interpretive process is complete, finds are being repacked for storage. This is a great opportunity to inspect and replace our packing materials for deterioration over time and conditions, and to ensure labelling is checked and materials updated for longer term storage and accessibility.
- Emma Conroy
We were pleased to welcome some familiar Australian accents to the site when a group from Renaissance Tours under the guidance of Dr Christopher Allen came to visit us.
Each season our team including the directors, students, architects, volunteers, ceramicists and other finds specialists will blog about the day to day sweat and adventures that come with life on an archaeological dig.