Surveying Through Greek Fields

[Ed.: Today’s blog post is written by CU Boulder student Sariah Rushing].

When people ask what I am doing out here in Greece, no one understands what I am explaining. I try to explain how beautiful the landscape is and right after I will talk about the horror of the units filled with what are better known as spiders to the rest of the world. They wonder how I can cut my legs while wearing pants and I try to explain how sharp the maquis is and about the “tricky” flowers. The diversity of the units is hard to explain and everything about our survey area I try to explain generally leaves people back home confused.


From up higher it is easy to see the diversity of our survey units, but it isn’t until we are down in them that we can see exactly how different and unique each unit is.


Sometimes we have these awesome units where we can see the ground easily with about 90% visibility and we find pottery everywhere.


Then we get these fun fields with 0-10% visibility with wheat and/or weeds at or above our heads. Some of these lovely spider-filled wheat fields have trees like this one and others don’t. Its units like this that warrants a spider stick to whack them and their webs away!


Then we get a field like this that has no creepy crawlies and looks like we should be able to find stuff but the mowed down hay covers the ground almost completely making it hard to see anything but flattened hay.


The freshly plowed and sometimes freshly planted units are everyone’s favorite. A unit like this would be considered 90-100% visibility and we generally find a lot of artifacts if there are any to be found in the area.


There is always this little issue of background disturbance. To anyone else this would look like I took a picture of dirt and rocks but to us this picture tells us what the ground looked like when we walked through the unit. This is also what we stare at for about 6 hours a day 5 days a week and we are able to pick out what is pottery, tile, lithic and other various things.


Let’s not forget the beautiful landscape we walk in every day. Though this flower is beautiful to admire they have sharp spiky leaves that cut at your legs even through pants. Great flowers to admire at a distance. This is what I call a “tricky” flower.


Just to clarify: I might complain about the spiders, the “tricky” flowers, bushes that apparently have thorns, the heat and how tired I am at the end of each day, but what we do here is amazing and I wouldn’t trade a single moment for anything else. I don’t think I could ever get tired of looking up and seeing views like this one.


We never know what we will find each day and what type of units we will get. Some days we get crappy units, and other days we get awesome units, but we find awesome stuff each time we are out there working. Then there is always a little perk for someone like me; I am convinced that these two trees create a perfect doorway and that they lead to Narnia!

Fear and Loathing in the Field

[Ed.: Today’s blog post is written by CU Boulder student Lena Streisand].

In 30° Celsius weather the only dark cloud ahead is one of impending doom at being “flappled” (thank you, Bill Caraher) in the face by the likes of this thing:


You’re walking your first swath of the morning.  You see an artifact in the distance.  You hasten your step and soon you are face to face with this artifact and the only thing stopping you from grabbing it is the massive, intricate web of a spider the size of your left eye that has conveniently woven its way around your point of interest.  The clock’s ticking, the other walkers are waiting for you and just as you reach for that artifact the walker beside you asks if you need him to “hold on.”  Not remembering you’re diving face-deep into the web of doom you mutter “yes” and just as you do so you go face first into one of these:


You flail your arms around helplessly, ground yourself in the soil and stand up directly into the olive tree branch you were avoiding, effectively diving head first into another web.  Flustered and frazzled you trip over a rock and unleash a whole new kind of beast.


Trying not to totally freak out about the fact that you are in very close proximity to a scorpion you keep on the move.  Beetles of unimaginably large sizes propel themselves at all imaginable angles towards you and bees buzzing in various octaves swarm around you, but you keep moving through that field and away from that scorpion.

Finally you’ve left the realm of unmentionables for dinner when the delusion sets in: suddenly all sorts of things are flying past you and you think you hear buzzing and you feel something crawling on you and you’re waiting for a flapple when you look up and realize that you’re actually just sitting at a dinner table swatting, dodging, and flailing the air directly above your neighbor’s Greek salad.  It’s okay, she understands.

Tomorrow you’ll both wake up and face the treacherous inhabitants of the field once again because regardless of the delusion and the constant feeling of web-on-face, the possibility of finding that one artifact makes it all worth it.