The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

An appropriate title for this post, for numerous reasons… the first of which is that I planned to post to this blog daily, and of course, its now been very nearly two weeks. Mea culpa (also a phrase of import in recent goings-on).

So my partner-in-crime and life came to visit me in Cyprus, and that’s where all got derailed. Which, to be honest, I had expected, so losing those 8 days wasn’t particularly problematic. However, I felt like I ought to be getting something done, so I didn’t necessarily take as much advantage of the time off and his presence as I should have. So it goes, but we still had some fun adventures I think!

After dragging him to “my” sites, we made a more standard archaeological-tourist jaunt around the island. The Cyprus Museum is of course required, and we also went to Kourion and Hala Sultan Tekke (the mosque, not the unimpressive LBA trenches – which are still cool, but require hiking out across a field for not a whole lot of payoff). We also made it up to Kyrenia, and got our crusader on, going to both St. Hilarion and Kyrenia castles. It was actually so nice, and its such a nice town, that we spent the night, which meant we got to hang out on the medieval harbour listening to Turkish folk-rock late into the evening over good beer.

However, all of this was tempered by a terrifying email late last Wednesday, where I appeared to have temporarily lost access to most of the material I’m here to study this Spring and much of the data I intended to collect in the coming year for my dissertation. Talk about heart-stopping! A flurry of panicked emailed were sent, with apologies and clarifications and additional requests for permissions, and in the end I was given a Monday morning meeting with the head of Museums and Monuments (who is also the director of the larger project and excavations that my dissertation will hopefully piggy-back off of).

So… Monday morning, having not slept particularly well for the previous 5 nights (oh graduate school, how you make mountains out of molehills), heart in throat, I show up at the Cyprus Museum for my meeting. And everything goes fabulously! It’s all awesome. She’s awesome (always has been, but its nice to be reminded of it), and everything seems to be worked out, not just as I had anticipated, but better than I possibly could have hoped. I need to reword some things in my proposal, and some other things I don’t need to ask for money for at all, because they’ve already been done, or I’m being given the opportunity to do them as part of other people’s projects/funding… and yet, everyone understand that this is for my dissertation, so they’re all concerned about getting me my data in a timely fashion. Whoah!

So, got into the museum to see some of my material starting Tuesday morning (hurrah!) and permissions were gotten for me to move my other material to where I can use it (double hurrah!). The survey collections from the 1950s are, unsurprisingly, filthy, and a bit jumbled. This makes me worried about the analysis done by this one researcher back in 1993… she recorded a bunch of stuff I can’t find. We also can’t find the new material she supposedly collected. So instead of 40-60 sherds per site, I’m looking at about 15. Not ideal, but I’ll do the best with what I have.

Then Wednesday morning I was invited to a meeting with the French researcher who is planning a major geophysics project on Cyprus, including the Ayios Sozomenos region, and appears to be happy to include me and my two sites into his work and let me tag along (woohoo!!). If all goes well for him with his work elsewhere on the island this weekend, I’ll take him on a tour of the sites next week.

Wednesday afternoon continued to be full of progress and success. The head of museums and monuments came up to the study room in the museum, and crashed my ceramics analysis. I’m working on the 1950s survey material of the fortresses that I’ll be working on for my diss, but first I owe her a publication of our pilot project two summers ago. She seemed excited and even a little impressed with my work, and we had a lively discussion about when one ware actually appears, how long the MCIII actually is (or isn’t), and whether my mystery sherds are another particular ware (she thinks yes, which supports my thoughts, and also throws our chronology higgledy piggledy, so YAY!). And after that, I was invited by the conservation team, who are lovely (and very funny) people in the lab across the hall from the workroom, to coffee, after which I was given carte blanche to hang out in their lab and secret sunny patio. Neat!

Thursday was a half-day in the museum, so I’m not quite done with the survey material – probably one more day. But that’s okay, because it gave me more time to go out to Pera to work on the reorganization of our warehouse, which I started Monday afternoon. Its dirty, exhausting work, but its satisfying, and hopefully we’ll be able to find things more easily when I’m done! Its also giving me a better grasp of what material is left to be analyzed, or what wasn’t completely finished to begin with. Seriously, any archaeological project needs at least one ceramics assistant for every two trenches… or we need a study season every year as long as our field season. This happens to every project I know, but alas, ceramics stopped being sexy sometime in the 1940s, so despite their importance, they really don’t get the attention they need. Everyone seems to be into animal bones these days… what is that? I don’t get it. Come look at pots with me!

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