no, indiana never did any real archaeology. but he was cool. he chased after artifacts all over the world.
he carried a bull whip.
so by the time i got to greece for my first archaeological excavation, i had images of how cool it would be. chasing after artifacts.
i didn't carry a bullwhip or chase nazis around in pursuit of the ark of the covenant. but in the years since i have entered a tomb or two in my lifetime as this photo of my daughter and me shows. (persephone and i have a few things in common.)
even though i'm a big fan of indy i know what the people who make movies like raiders won't tell you.
sometimes archaeology doesn't even take place in the field. it takes place in a lab (in the basement of a greek school gymnasium that's been taken over by our dig). while many team members sweat in the field, a small percentage works all day indoors.
before fieldwork began on our excavation in pylos, greece, i helped out at the lab as we got ready for the season.
our conservator removing fresco fragments from storage for analysis
we store fresco fragments in foil take out tins - less chance for damage than plastic bags.
tagging the artifacts both on the inside and outside. in our field we also rely on a hardcopy back up system, and redundancy rules.
potsherds that have been washed are left out to dry in the sun
lab team gathering al fresco around a group of potsherds to be analyzed
the pottery specialists spend hours every day sifting through the washed potsherds, sorting them by diagnostics (rims, handles, base and bodysherds) by fabric (coarse, fine, etc.) and if we're lucky - painted. but one of the most important tasks is always dating them.
as world experts, they've been doing this for years and can often identify a piece of pottery with just one look.
between you and me, i'm a field person, not a lab person. i prefer the wide open spaces any day over the confines of a building.
we're lucky to have such amazing specialists on our team. to know at the end of a long day in the field they will give us critical feedback. we can tentatively date or identify artifacts in the field, but we rely on them for the ultimate analysis. we dig things up in pieces and oftentimes they put it together, both figuratively - and literally.
Top two photos courtesy of Google images