I have officially survived and made it into the last week!! That being said, my weather forecast app gave me some very brutal news: it was going to reach 43 °C (or 110 °F for you imperial system users) during the second half of the week. Last time I have experienced a weather like this was when I was in the United Arab Emirates six years ago (it was actually even hotter than this), and I could have not survived it without air conditioning. I guess it would be a different story this year.
Anyway, the excavation had to continue. As I have mentioned in the last journal, our trench has entered the slow mode, and there was not any sign of speeding up because of the complexity of the contexts and the number of interesting finds. More and more ground stones and mudbricks are appearing, and some of them are covered by a layer of Neolithic plaster. These are promising evidences showing that we are getting close the wall foundations that we have looking for.
Although the speed at which we were digging was the opposite of promising, but we were going to keep faith, at least for now. Here is a photo showing how hot it is.
More digging! The temperature today was still bearable. The one thing good about Greece is that, although it can get very hot in the summer, the humidity stays relatively low. This means that, no matter how hot it gets, it can be much cooler if you block the sun. So the shades that we have turned out to be crucial for our survival.
The digging process did not change much from yesterday. Same old complicated contexts, more ground stones and mudbricks. Something a bit more exciting happened in another trench, though. Remember the abandoned trench Ψ21? Since the excavation was coming to end and we could not just leave a giant rectangular hole on the ground, the directors, from god-knows-where, rented a bulldozer and refilled the hole. It got the job done so quickly that I wished that all of our digging could be done by machines too.
While I was walking back and forth along the narrow path in the cornfield, I was surprised by how tall these corns had grown. It made me start wondering, “is it because we have been here for too long, or they just grow really fast?”
The temperature rose close to 40 °C today, but it was still OK. One more funny scene of human-body wall for the photo shooting happened in the early morning, which helped greatly in waking me up. I could tell that my body started to silently protest my abuse by making it harder for me to wake up in the morning and bringing back my good old lower back pain.
Finally, something exciting happened in the digging part of the day. We excavated some mudbricks in a very suspicious yet neat alignment, and some of the mudbricks were tilted in an angel smaller than 90 degrees. There was an outer ring of mudbricks that formed a sub-rectangular shape, with some mudbrick structures formed inside the area circumscribed by the shape. Nico was greatly excited by this discovery, and he assumed that this structure could be an oven used to either cook food or fire ceramics. Although Professor Hamilakis was doubtful about his assumption. Either way, there was no definite way to tell what it is exactly except to continue excavating it. Because it requires some fine and careful digging, I volunteered. I have always like doing detailed work, since it felt like I was sculpting something out of dirt.
On an ending note, here is our team picture taken today!
Today the heat hit. It was bearable under the shades, but whenever I went out of it, it became a different world; it was inferno, to be exact. We kicked off the day by removing a big flat ground stone. There was still some red clay underneath that needed to be removed, so Dimitris, one of the workmen in our trench, took a small mattock and went on digging. It was going fine for a while, until he cracked a small dent on a rounded pottery surface. Nobody noticed it at first, since we have found so many large shattered pieces of pottery and this could be just another one. So Dimitris carried on with his digging. He dug around the pottery surface more carefully, and, instead of finding an edge, he saw that the surface kept expanding and expanding. Just when he thought that he might have reached the peripheral of the surface, he found out that the surface curved down into the soil.
That was the moment when it occurred to him that it could be more than just another broken piece of pottery. He asked Melanie to come over and examine it. She sensed that it could something amazing too; it could be the first complete bowl ever excavated in this site!! She asked Dimitris to carry on but be extra careful, so he switched from mattock to trowel and continued to reveal this exciting find.
After about an hour, most of the pottery bowl was revealed and the chance of it being complete was almost 100%. Everybody in our trench was too excited about watching this being fully excavated to do anything else. After Fotis took some photos, we all took out our phones and started recording this “historical” moment while Melanie was carefully removing the last bit of dirt around the bowl.
Everybody started shouting out of excitement. Like what they said, you always find something amazing on the last day of digging.
It was the last and the hottest day on site. We did nothing today but the one thing I officially hate to do now: archaeological drawing. Today was said to be the easiest day, but the combination of tedious drawing and horrible heat made it one of the hardest to endure.
But oh well, it was all over now. It is time to delve into my sculpture series!
p.s. Here is an photo of our final ethnographic performance!
@Neo Monastiri, Greece
Jul. 1st, 2017