Normally I would protest violently about getting up before 7am on a Saturday, but today was different. I was excited to start another day digging up the ancient past at the Paphos theatre in Cyprus.
This is my second time on the University of Sydney's Paphos dig. My first time was in 2004 to help with artefact sorting and drawing of red slip pottery fragments. I first fell in love with archaeology when I visited the Nicholson Museum on a Year 9 excursion. Since then I've completed an honours degree in Classical Archaeology and have explored the ancient past wherever possible through reading and attending talks.
Back on site, Team Excav8 and our fearless leader Kerrie were raring to go and finally remove a line of clay pipes from our trench to find out what was underneath. Roman workers put the pipes in to help with water drainage after the theatre was renovated around 150AD. The almost 2000 year old pipes are quite amazing and very hard to dig out. Those Romans sure knew how to build things to last!
All morning we chipped away at the plaster and sand holding the pipes in place. We used pick axes and trowels, dust pans and brushes, buckets and dental picks. After many buckets of spoil had been removed and Kerrie had asked many times “Are they ready yet?” finally the pipes came loose. We bagged each of the pipes and inside sediment and lifted them out of the trench. The pipes will soon be transported back to the dig house for labelling, cleaning and scientific testing of the sediment inside. What a great morning's work!
In the afternoon, as with every day on the dig, everyone mucked in to clean the pottery that had been found earlier that day. All the archaeologists gathered around buckets of water with their tooth brushes and scrubbing brushes in hand. The hundreds of sherds of pottery were brushed clean and laid out to dry.
These artefacts, along with everything else found on the theatre site, will be kept in storage in Cyprus and made available for researchers of the future. Maybe someone sitting in a history classroom right now will one day research ancient drainage pipes and other Roman engineering wonders.
After cleaning the artefacts, it was time for Team Excav8 and the other archaeologists to clean ourselves up before dinner. We archaeologists get very dirty digging through the past and every now and then we dig up something really interesting. I wonder what we will find where the pipes once were when we go back on site next week.......?