It's the final week and I am really going to miss the dig. Maybe not the waking up at 6am part, but I will miss the adventure and excitement, the fantastic people I've met, the beautiful location and even the physical labour - great workout! This dig has given me a great sense of purpose in this year of traveling. If I hadn't done this, I am not sure if I would have made it to Cyprus in my travels, but I'm so glad I did - we have been so lucky to have the chance to travel around this remarkable island that has so much history and beauty.
I've been dreaming of coming back on a dig for so long. Having studied archaeology ten years ago, I then took the indoor route of museums, dealing with the objects after they had been cleaned and catalogued. But to be back in a trench digging again is amazing. The opportunity to learn so much from my trench supervisor Kerrie and other team mates has been priceless.
And of course, it's the last week of digging and what appears? A large bone stuck vertically in the ground, within a circle of stones. Human remains? Ancient burial?! What an exciting find. A little deeper and the bone keeps going. Humerus? Femur? Nearly uncovered. It's.... a... goat bone. Or possibly sheep. Ah well, at least someone had a good dinner here.
Thank you Paphos for being a remarkable host, and thank you Craig and the University of Sydney for this adventure. I hope to return!
We recently received a visit from school students of The Learning Centre school at Peyia. It was a great chance for the students to see archaeology first hand and learn more about ancient theatrical productions.
Hopefully some of the students le
The team paid a visit to one of Paphos' most famous and most significant sites - the Hellenistic necropolis called the Tombs of the Kings. Here are some images of the visit.
I knew coming onto this dig that I was in for a lot of hard work, and an amazing archaeological payoff (how often do you get the opportunity to excavate a World Heritage Site?!). What I didn't really count on was the fitness payoff that came with it. I like to call it going on archaeology boot camp. We were really thrown in the deep end this year, coming into the country in the middle of a heatwave.
My trench is at the top of the cavea, so we get the joy of walking up and down our 2000 year old wonder several times a day. A wonder for the legs! Working in full sun those first two weeks in high humidity made every movement sweat inducing. Then we have the day to day activities in the trench: picking, hoeing, shovelling, pushing the barrow all work different parts of the body. Even troweling back surfaces can give the arms a work out.
Add to this the 'Mediterranean Diet' of tomatoes, cucumber and bread and hummus, and the kilos fall off (if you can manage to avoid the tasty treats at Zorbas Bakery!).
Waking up day in, day out before the roosters can be a chore (especially with the aching muscles from work the day before), but it isn't as hard as it used to be. The days are getting cooler, and sometimes shade and a breeze happen at the same time and everyone lets out a sigh of relief. I can tell that my body is getting used to the new level of work I am putting it through - when we were walking up all the stairs at the Tomb of the Kings I barely felt it at all!
These last days of frenetic work will be interesting both archaeologically and to see if my body will continue to pick up the pace!
Oh it’s so dark here, warm though and strangely comforting – but it’s so dark. I am not really sure what happened but I know I have been separated from the rest. I do try to remember but everything happened so quickly, and yet it seemed to happen slowly too. I do think that once all was well and everything was OK, whatever OK is. There were sounds, pleasant sounds as though all was well around me. And were there smells too? I really cannot remember. It’s so dark here, and silent. There is no sound at all yet I think there were sounds in the distant past. The really difficult thing is I have no idea how long I have been here, and no idea where ‘here’ is. Why is it so dark? Why is it so quiet?
I seem to think my mistress was pleased with me for I performed my tasks well. But how do I know that? Why do thoughts of fragrances occur to me? Fragrances of what? And from where? It really is very confusing. Perhaps the dark makes it more difficult. The quiet though peaceful can sometimes disturb me. Was it always like this? But wait! There was noise all around me and I think my mistress was very frightened. The noise was so loud quite like anything before and yes I remember there was movement – a lot of it. But I don’t remember why, or how. Then there was darkness and silence. How long has it been like this? I do not know. Maybe if I wait here there will …
Wait! What is that? It’s movement again. Oh no! What is happening? More movement and now there is light again, and noise. I am being lifted.
“Hey guys look at this.”
“What is it?”
“Not sure, some piece of old pottery.”
“Looks like a handle – could be an old jug or something?”
“What shall I do with it?”
“Put it in the finds bucket – maybe Craig will know what it is.”
Archaeology has taken me to some remarkable places in the world. It is a great way to see the world in a way not possible as a tourist as we spend several weeks living and working in the same place. For me this has ranged from camping in deserts to staying in small villages and even popular holiday destinations like the coastal resort of Paphos in Cyprus.
No matter where I have worked I am always humbled by the hospitality and generosity of the people who live in the communities where I have worked. For the last two weeks I have had two locals, Edna and Terry, volunteering in my trench. Each morning they leave home at 6.00 am and drive for an hour to excavate with us. Its hot, hard physical work but there is always a smile on their faces and lots of good humour accompanies the team’s work. We are not the only archaeological team excavating on Cyprus for whom they volunteer – they just love the opportunity to participate in uncovering the islands past in a very hands on way.
Edna and Terry often arrive at site with delicious cheesecake or lemon drizzle cake that certainly hits the spot at our morning tea break. Their culinary delights also include a tasty ‘donkey pie’ – named for the kick the chilli provides not the meat used! Today they arrived with a big dish of chilli chicken for our dinner! Still an hour to go until dinner tonight! Can’t wait!
PS Dinner was delicious tonight! Thank you Edna and Terry.
Project director Dr Craig Barker wrote this piece for The Conversation Australia today about the importance of volunteers in the Paphos project.
Part of the joy of living and working in an other country is experiencing difficult cultural activities.
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.