With the turning of the seasons, so shifts the thoughts of the young archaeologist from those of books and dusty libraries to those of blue skies and pottery-filled fields. This year the season starts early for me (March! Who’d have thought??) and will run through the end of June. First two months, though, I’m here in Nicosia, at the Cyprus American Archaeological Institute, where I will attempt to divide my time productively between analyzing ceramics from the Politiko-Troullia project, studying tomb group and survey material from the area around Politiko and Ayios Sozomenos at the Cyprus Museum, and (fingers-crossed) getting some writing done in the library here at CAARI. I got in later and more exhausted than I had expected, so last night consisted of getting unpacked, eating a typically ridiculous archaeologist dinner, made of the leavings of previous visitors to the institute. In this case, a can of tuna and a can of sweet corn stirred together in a bowl. I kid you not, and before you say ugh, I’ll have you know I was introduced to this exact combination by the Bedouin (true story). They also did it with tomato instead of corn, and it’s surprisingly palatable. I didn’t have any flatbread to eat it with, but that’s alright. So today the excitement begins! I need to get ahold of some of the gentlemen in the village where the P-T project stays, so I can head out there and get into our storage depots. I need drawing supplies, bags, labels, scales… and of course, pottery!
The students arrived yesterday, jet-lagged and delirious from their journey around the world, so they were duly fed and distributed to their houses, and everyone was up at 4:30 for a 5:15 start. Whee!
I was in the lab today, as will be the norm this season. We have a bit of a pottery backlog, and with such a huge team (7 trenches!!) the pottery will be coming in faster than I can process it. At this rate I’ll be just as pasty white when I get back to the States as I was when I left!
There’s one poor student from Melbourne whose bag didn’t get on the plane to Doha, so it won’t arrive in Cyprus until tomorrow afternoon, so without proper clothes or shoes we kept her back at the lab. With no new pottery to wash, I set her to labeling the remains of last year’s. Not the most exciting task in the world, but she took it in stride and with good humour. She is completely green, but she asked good questions, and I pointed out to her that the best way to learn pottery is just to handle thousands and thousands of sherds. After today, she’s well on her way…
The rest of the crew went out to the site to weed and clean and string baulks. We also took down an old baulk that has fallen victim to the vagaries of time (i.e. Cyprus’ periodic torrential rainstorms and the effects of plant growth) and had partially collapsed and was serving no purpose any longer other than a safety hazard.
I read two contexts from last year – reading a context means laying out all of the diagnostic sherds (rims, bases, handles, decoration, spouts… anything that tells me something about the form of the vessel the sherd came from). The southern courtyard continues to produce wonderful things that I’m not allowed to talk about until the department of antiquities has our reports, and Area H, in the north, which I had mostly written off last year as boring, weathered, ugly sherds from utilitarian wares, is suddenly producing high quantities of fine wares with large amounts of applied decoration in a style I’ve only ever seen on some of the pottery from the cemetery at Nicosia-Ayia Paraskevi, and no where else at this site. Weird. They are, however, still ugly and weathered, which is a pity. I think that part of the site is just above bedrock, so water running down to the ravine to the west just runs right through there. Topography!
In other news, we have a Lab Cat! Who is a lap cat! He’s clearly attempting to make a strong case for his Green Card application. I’m tentatively calling him Michael, but one of the students suggested Miles, which I rather like. He spent half the day on my lap and the other half of the day asleep on my backpack, with a short break to mew adorably at everyone while we ate lunch. Our dig cat from last year, the adorable tabby and white Molly, also reappeared last night at dinner. Its definitely her – some horrible neighborhood hooligan took a hole punch to her ear and the resultant hole is distinctive, but she seems to have found a good home, as she is looking well-fed, clean, and fluffy. This clearly hasn’t stopped her from being an incorrigible beggar, though.