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.....

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