Archaeology is hard

Today is day 3 of the 2018 WARP study season. My main observation so far is: archaeology is hard. OK, that’s something that I obviously know, but doing archaeology – especially after you haven’t been doing it for 10 months or so – makes it clear how hard it really is.

Most non-archaeologists don’t know this, and in part it’s our fault. After all, this is the kind of thing that we tend to post on social media:

Sunset, Nafplio

But pictures like these don’t really capture the flavor of what it’s like to work on a project, even on a study season, which to my mind at least is supposed to be more relaxed.

So far our study season has involved a lot of tasks, big and small, that occupy our time and attention. There is equipment (new and old) to prepare and computers to get up and running; there is a lab to clean (again), meetings for planning the season , and queries to run. Bill always needs to get a new Greek SIM card and we’re constantly running little errands. But besides all the little things that are required when you move into a new place, there’s effectively an infinite amount of work to do in a relatively short time. We’ll be here working on our material from now until July 11th, and our to do list looks pretty serious to me:

  1. Run a series of queries in GIS to analyze our data in a way that consonant with our siteless methodology;
  2. Make sure that we have adequate documentation of all of our “sites” that we explored from 2014-2017;
  3. Analyze the extensive materials from the modern abandoned villages in our survey area;
  4. Begin working on our publications, a preliminary report in addition to our final publication, focusing especially on a description of our survey area;
  5. Making sure that our data are clean and consistent;
  6. Continue work in the lab to (re-)analyze important materials, and
  7. Continue to get high-quality photographs and illustrations of important artifacts.

This isn’t an exhaustive list – there’s lots more – but even so these seven items are plenty. We already have a long list of tasks that require our immediate attention that need to be done by Monday, so there are effectively no “days off,” even with a team full of talented and hard-working colleagues who know the drill. When we’re not working on the project, we’re sleeping, eating, and attending to other responsibilities.

Of course, once we get into a groove, things will seem more normal. It’s just always jarring to me at the beginning of a new season how all-consuming an archaeological project is. It’s actually a big part of its appeal, I think… that, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and generally the beauty of the Greek landscape, and of course all of the joy from just being in Greece.

One Reply to “Archaeology is hard”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.