the secret lives of archaeologists, continued

i know. it's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. 

this is the view from my window where i stay during excavation season.

a few days into the season my son came to join the project and work with the team. here he is the first night, sitting on the balcony and checking to see how well the internet works

it's a wonderful experience when you can be with a child outside your normal day to day lives. to introduce him or her to the things in life that interest you, to a job in a part of the world that makes your heart beat faster...

i am very fortunate. i had the ability for my daughter to join our excavation a few years ago in greece - and this summer it was his turn to join me in this adventure. the digging is an adventure, of course, but traveling with my son this time around was a wonderful change of pace from previous trips we had taken together.

before this, all the traveling we did as mother and son revolved around his fencing career. criss crossing the united states to attend competitions. it wasn't really all that fun. on competition days he had to get up at dawn, put on his uniform and get ready for battle for at least 7 hours.

so when he woke up the first day at 5 a.m. to head to work at the excavation (about the same time we would have to wake up to drive to the convention center in any given city to check in for his competition) he said, "it's a lot more fun to wake up to do this than go compete and spend all day in a tournament venue."

so he spent all day doing this--

helping to set up the auto level with a colleague (also called a laser level - a machine that resembles R2D2 in Star Wars) which we use to calculate elevations of finds on the site (more on that in a future post)

chipping away at the soil with a screwdriver and handaxe (well-worn technique ;-) while listening to Goddess knows what on his Ipod

taking a turn with the big pickaxe

while a fellow teammate looks on

having fun perfecting his 'technique'

And this is our schedule:

5 a.m. Rise and shine

5:25 a.m. Breakfast. Sit, bleary-eyed and watch students sleepwalk through the buffet line. Take as many pieces of fruit as I can manage, slice bread, slap salami and cheese on them, wrap in napkins and stuff into knapsack. Do not - on pain of death - forget the two large water bottles.

6 a.m. Begin the 25 minute drive to our site. Through tiny villages. Up cliffs. Past olive groves. Swerve around the odd goat blocking the road.

6:30 a.m. Arrive at site. Set up the autolevel. Retrieve pickaxes, handaxes, trowels and buckets from supply pile. Instruct workmen on the day's goals.

7:00 a.m. Busload of student volunteers arrives.

9:30 a.m. Cookie time. With more than one hungry young male on my trench team, I felt obliged to feed the hungry beasts. By the end of our stay, it had become a highlight of our day.

11:00 a.m. Lunch. Head for one of the tents to duck into the shade, or lean against an olive tree for al fresco dining. Excited conversation and joking is typical at the beginning of the season, with lunchtime becoming quieter as the weeks wear on.

1:15 p.m. Begin clearing trench for end of day photographs.

1:30 p.m. Workers and students leave. Staff stays behind to complete trench photographs, pack up equipment. Lock gate and secure site.

Afternoons free. The bus takes students to a beach - I head back to the hotel. Some days at 3 p.m. would find me head down on my arms, asleep on a small table in my room. Eventually take a shower, which involves extricating myself daily from the flimsy curtain and reaching across to the sink for my shampoo bottle as there is no soap dish in shower. Step out of shower into pool of water on bathroom floor - mop daily with extra towels that I steal from the linen closet. Towels turn reddish brown from dirt which cannot be washed off no matter how hard one tries. Report to hotel manager, Hercules (yes, his real name) to please install soap dish in our shower. Yes, of course, he promises, he will fix it tomorrow for sure. Soap dish never installed. Hercules remains as charming as ever, but the 12 labors of this Hercules apparently do not include fixing a broker shower curtain or installing a soap dish.

6:30 p.m. Staff meeting. 

8:00 p.m. Dinner. Consume enormous amounts of food. Or, cut entree portion into half and save for lunch the next day. 

9:30 p.m. Most likely, asleep. 

Day off: Strap on my running shoes and begin my run through the streets of this little Greek village. Attract the attention of locals as I huff and puff up inclines, past the Venetian fortress, sweating profusely. Who is this crazy American woman and what is she running from?

this is a view of the town we live in during the season. yeah, i know. 

it's a tough job.....


  1. I wish I have the same view from my window :)

  2. I think I'll have to volunteer to join you some day....

  3. My condolences to you on your difficult employment.
    Yes, getting up at 5:00 a.m. when in the Mediterranean must be some kind of evil curse by Zeus on your enterprise. And all those young people suffering alongside you. The poor dears!
    And on your day off, you give yourself the run-around? I think the sun's getting to you.
    Glad you have the pleasure of your son's company. Good learning experience for both of you.
    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  4. I am totally rethinking my career choice.....

  5. Oh Amanda, I wish I could join you on your digs. That village is beyond charming. BTW, i have the old-fashioned pinboard too. Looks like I cannot get enough photos pinned :)

  6. Love your pics...

    I'm with you,
    its always a nice thing to be able to share our passions and work with our family especially our children ♥

  7. This surely sounds like a lot of fun :) I never did that with my parents, but am sure this is a great way to bond!

  8. a day full of tasks but it sounds also like a day full of satisfaction from a work you do
    and a great view from a balcony!

  9. Well I guess you must have pushed a favourite goddess of Hercules off the cliff in a past life Amanda - so much bad luck here ;)

    Lovely to have your son spend time sharing what you love - do you think he's now been bitten and might return for more hardship next year?
    Smiles to you*!*

  10. That work is a lot harder than you make it sound, Amanda. Guess that is all part of loving what one does, eh?

  11. dear amanda,

    how completely lovely to have your son join you. what memories you have created. sigh.


  12. I think I'd suffer through it just for that view! Gorgeous photos. It looks like your son rates the pickaxe time - put those fencing muscles to work! That's so cool that your kids can share and appreciate your work.

  13. There is nothing more satisfying than working at something you love and with your son there with you, this summer you are working "with" someone you love.... memories of a lifetime for both of you.


  14. Who is this crazy American goddess ... ?

    I am intrigued that you are an archaeologist and that your son fences. The uniqueness of this post just enlivens my spirit!

    Btw, the treasure you sent me from Greece is pressed to my cork board inches from my face as I type this. I can look to the left and allow my eyes to roam over the light-reflecting ridges and meditate on what it all means.

    Thank you, again, dear friend.

  15. What a wonderful way to spend time with your son! Love the view.

  16. I actually fenced for a bit and loved it so much. I want to get back into it, and haven't been able to because of my kids' schedules, but your post made me wonder how I could make that happen.

    And 5 am during a Mediterranean summer is when all the night owls are just coming home, not when people are supposed to be waking up! :)

    How wonderful that your children have been able to join you...memories of a lifetime.

  17. I've thoroughly enjoyed catching up with your posts today, Amanda, now that I have a moment to breathe.

    Your son is so lucky to have the opportunity to share in your work experience, and to gain insight and respect for all you do in the name of learning and respecting the cultures of our collective past.

    Well done!

  18. You are blessed have been consumed by this wonderful passion - and - to be able to share it with your *children*..

    These are memories that NONE of you will ever forget!

    I love seeing your sounds like a lot of work - but very wonderful work. You are preserving our past....

    Hugs to you!


    ♥ Robin ♥

  19. Such a great experience to share with your son.
    Wonderful post, thank you for sharing, dear Amanda!

  20. konstantin - i wish i had this view all year round!

    mim - if you are really interested, just let me know - volunteers are most welcome!

    r-bear - i think i must have gotten too much sun. i am the epitome of the crazy american running around a greek village. at least it gives them some form of comic relief.

    farmchick - if i were to tell the truth - there are times when i am sitting in a trench and dreaming about writing, so those career choice issues come up for everyone ;-)

  21. loree - we are pinning buddies. no matter how much the virtual world takes hold, leave me with my old fashioned peg board any day ;-)

    ann - i felt very fortunate to be able to share this experience with my kids. thanks for visiting and for your comment ~

    joshi - i guess if you don't go crazy being in the same trench, then it must be a great bonding experience!
    thanks for visiting ;-)

    ola - i agree. there is something very satisfying about falling asleep because you're bone tired.....;D

  22. annie - chances are, neither of us will be returning next year as it will be a study season and all lab work!

    paul - because your son is an archaeologist as well you know how this business works. but yes, i am passionate about it, and feel lucky to be able to do this work.

    lori - yes, creating memories. that's the best part of all ♡

    sarah - i'm not sure is his fencing coach appreciates his pickaxe action - probably using all the wrong muscle groups!

  23. genie - they are memories of a lifetime. i'm so glad i took the opportunity. thanks for coming along and sharing in our experience ♡

    suze — haha!! keep up the flattery ;-)

    so you are another 'corkboarder' eh? how can we live without our little walls of wonder? so happy your heart is close by. i am looking at mine right now, pinned inches from my face as well ~ xoxo

    glynis - i wonder - do you have a similar view where you are in gorgeous cyprus???

  24. maggie - ah, so you are a fencer!! what a beautiful sport it is — i hope you get a chance in your busy life to take it up again. and just wondering - my son got started at 12 but kids in our academy start even earlier, around 7 or 8, so maybe you can share the experience with your kids!

    jo, thanks for visiting, dear. i will be over soon to catch up in your neck of the woods as well ~ xoxo

    robin - preserving our past — ah dear, i am trying ~ thank you for this kind comment. i do love it so — greece is a place so full of mystery and magic, as you know ♡♡

    mina — hello!! so good to hear from you!! i will stop by soon to see how you and your precious little ones are doing!! xoxo

  25. i come here to restore (no...nourish) my faith in how wide the universe is if we would just but step into said universe. what joy to experience what you share!

    oh yeah!


  26. Tough Job Huh? Me want some of that!!( : What a wonderful treat to have your little man with you...I know..he's not a little guy..but to us Momma's they will always be our little men.Hugs,Cat

  27. How fantastic your son could join you and what an experience for all of you. How is the fencing going?is he still enjoying this in college? I'm surprised the excavation work isn't all day. is that because it's super strenuous?

  28. Sister ~ nice peak into a day in the life of a real archeologist. And son. But the running in the morning before digging all day - what ARE you running from/for?

    I know there is something about running - but walking is all I can muster early in the morning - just getting out of bed takes help! sad but true.

    Must keep you young - and it is working! Hugs

  29. wonderful through and through, seeing inside your life. and yes, to share this with your kids. you've got a special family there, amanda.


  30. Hey Earth Goddess I have girl worship of you. So thrilled that you can share this experience with your son as you did with your daughter. I am sure they will not forget it. How I wish I could volunteer and then go for a run with you. Two crazy women!

    I am teaching my son to fence, he is not as interested as my daughter, will be switching students soon.


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