As some of you may have noticed, many photos in the previous two blog entries have been taken down or switched. This happened because, in one of my conversations with Professor Hamilakis about my ongoing sculpture project, he told me that I cannot post any photo depicting things directly related to the excavation due to the regulation of the Greek Archaeological Service. This is not a desirable situation for me, but, oh well, life has to go on.
One things remains unchanged this week: the excavation continues. I went to trench Z2 for the morning to draw some archaeological features again. It was hands down more relaxing than digging, but it could get very boring if you would do it for a long time. Back in our trench Ξ15, the expansion of the trench is almost completed. We will soon begin digging the mass of clay and mud bricks from the destroyed Neolithic house, hoping to find the foundation of the walls to determine the exact location where the house was situated. It will become exciting in the days to come.
A hilarious scene arose today in Z2. Fotis, our photographer, was trying to take a photo of a feature inside the trench. Yet, the sun was too strong and they needed a shade to block it. And…….Here it is! A shades made of human, courtesy of the Koutroulou Magoula 2017 excavation team. Enjoy.
I came to realize that I have not mentioned in detail about the second part of our daily routine after the digging session from 6:30 am to 1:30 pm; it is the Lab session, starting at 4:30 pm and ending at 8:00 pm.
Today’s lab session is kicked off by an hour of silence, because Professor Hamilakis was doing an interview with a local media team shooting a documentary about the village.
The lab session consisted of similar things from day to day: cleaning of the finds and floatation. Cleaning of the finds is self-explanatory; we use only buckets of water and toothbrushes to clean the dirt and soil off the finds, let them airdry in a day, then re-bag them with corresponding tags. The key thing here is to always keep the tags with the finds, otherwise the finds would be useless because nothing much can be analyzed from them if their context is missing.
Floatation is the dirty work that is nobody’s favorite. It is a process using water to separate soil and dirt from tiny artifacts, seeds, and bones. It utilizes a big bucket, like the one shown below, and running water.
People in charge of doing floatation need to dip their hands into muddy water and keep stirring and breaking soil chunks to expedite the process. Many small-scale yet interesting finds are discovered this way, but the process itself is truly tedious and dirty. The good news is that we are a group of 5 pairs of students, so each of us has to do it only once a week.
As I am getting slightly more and more annoyed with the tedious archaeological drawings, I was asked to draw three more drawings at trench Z2 this morning. They are now taking down the baulk separating trench Z1 and Z2 from H1 and H2, connecting the existing houses in H1 and H2 with presumably the outside communal area in Z1 and Z2 to see a bigger picture of Neolithic human activities.
I thought I would be “released” to go back to my own trench after the drawings, but it did not happen. The digging in trench Ξ15 slowed down greatly today because of the emergence of multiple intertwined contexts, so the last thing they needed was extra human labor, so I had to stay in Z2 and join the mission of taking down the baulk.
It was not pleasant at all. The upper soil of the baulk are all dried out by the sun, and digging it with a mattock lifts a ton of dust into the air. I felt like I was eating dirt during the entire time of intense mattocking. Yet, there was one thing exceptionally delightful among this unpleasant experience: I found a figurine by myself!! Yet, yes, another yet, when I picked the cylindrical body of the figurine up and examined it in my hand, I realized that I have chopped part of the base of the body off with my mattock. The sudden joy of finding my first figurine turned into the sudden guilt of destroying an object that is more than 7000 years old, so I looked for the broken pieces in the area around where I found the figurine desperately and even sieved the soil collected from that area. I was able to find one piece back, but the base was still missing another chunk of clay. I collected some other clay pieces found in the sieve that might be a part of the base, and bagged them together with the two broken pieces of the figurine. Hopefully it could be recovered completely in the hands of the specialists.
Here is a photo of my little lizard friends to lighten up the mood of the journal of today.
Trench Ξ15 now officially becomes insanely complicated. The northeast edge now has a partially exposed subfloor structure, while the south edge has a very suspicious-looking pile of hard clay and pebbles that could potentially be a hearth. The rest of trench is covered by three different kinds of surfaces: red clay, black clay, and a speckled surface of a mixture of red and black. So now the big mattocks and shovels are useless, since everything has to be treated carefully. This is the stage of real archaeology: digging with small mattocks and trowels so that every tiny bit of change in the soil and any emergence of new features could be detected.
Yeah, today was just another day in the trench.
TGIF!!!!!!!! I am so happy and yeah it indeed deserves that many exclamation marks. Today’s digging is basically a continuation of the digging style described in Day 14. Although it is a slow process, it requires much less hard labor than removing the top soil with intense mattocking and shoveling, and so I would not complain about it.
I am always a big fan of cool technologies, and I got to witness one of my favorite gadgets of all time, a DJI Phantom 3 Professional drone, taking photos of our trench from high above, when the day is almost over and we finished digging. The funny thing is that, although Phantom 3 Professional is one of the most advanced drones in the market, it is still a delicate machine and needs special care if you want to use it for a longer period of time. And thus Matt decided to let it land on Melanie’s hands, instead of the hard and dirty soil around the trench.
After the lab session today, we went on a tour of the village with Professor Hamilalkis and an Ethnographer. It is quite an interesting town with some eye-opening history. I will not elaborate more of it in this journal since it is pretty long already. I might write a detailed recount of the village history when I am updating the process of my sculpture series. But there is one thing I want to share now with you, and that is this abandoned night club shown below. Apparently the night life here was once very robust in the 70s and 80s. Sadly not anymore.
Anyway, HAPPY WEEKENDS!!
@Neo Monastiri, Greece