A day in the life of a digger

Following Aren’s article of other things we do besides dig, I figured maybe some of you would like to hear about what actually happens during a day of digging (for those of you who have been there already, feel free to comment on anything you dont agree with).

025.jpgThis post will not spare any of the gory details, so i’ll start with our wake up time – 5:00 AM! earlier if you need extra time in the morning for extra-curricular activities. the bus leaves the camp at 5:30 AM sharp.

we arrive at the tell about 6:00 and pick up some tools and hike up to the excavation areas (no we don’t have donkeys to take us up there).

we begin work under tarps that protect us from the sun, and the morning hours are usually the time when the heavier work gets done, in order to have enough time to clean up by the end of the day. heavy work involves digging through the fills that cover up the finds that we are looking for. try and imagine that the building we are about to excavate was abandoned a few thousand years ago. the building then gets filled over time and covered. that’s the fill we need to get through. sometimes, the fill is not so thick (even as little as ten centimeters), and this is accomplished quickly.

001054.JPGother times the fill is very deep.

once we’re passed the fill, the smaller tools are used, such as the infamous Marshaltown troul, brushes and ice picks. these allow us to remove dirt from around finds such as vessels, without breaking anything important. At times we have to sift the dirt that is found for small finds. Sometimes we have to save what looks like plain dirt for all kinds of analyses.

work continues until breakfast at 9:00AM. breakfast is a wonderful meal for those who eat it, and includes many different cheeses, fresh vegetables, bread, and tuna fish. those of you who are like me will probably spend the half hour break guzzling as much coffee as they can.

9:30 AM its time to head back up to the excavation areas, and continue work. at this point, the morning pace may continue or things may slow down, according to what the needs (of the excavation, not the excavators – HAHAHA!!!) are at the time.

DSCF0127.JPG11:00-11:15 is fruit break (see Aren’s article on things we do other than digging). after 11:15 most of the work revolves around straightening sections, gathering loose dirt and of course sweeping the squares. this last task always seems to drive people crazy. sweeping dirt is not the most sane thing to do. yet to archaeologists, this is probably the most important point of the day. by sweeping the dirt away, we are able to see the ancient architectural elements that have been buried, differentiating between them and the fill that covers them. for example, without good sweeping, we would never find a mudbrick wall, a beaten earth floor, or a plaster installation.

at 13:00 (1:00 PM), we head back to the camp, but if you think that’s the end of the day, well, your wrong! while I won’t get into the details, the day continues with pottery washing, pottery reading, field trips, lectures, and of course, dinner and swimming (the last two are optional). so while you can see that the digging is a lot of work, trust me when i say “no pain – no gain” – just imagine finding one of these babies!!!


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