Quote of the day: “Archaeologists are the cowgirls of science.”

Pottery pun of the day: Did you hear about the shell cookpot that got in a fight?  I heard it had quite a temper!

Today we surveyed the bowels of hell.  No, really.  We were checking out a Middle Bronze Age site, surveying a field next to the tell.  However, due to the aforementioned field burning that has been going on throughout the area lately, the field was nothing but an endless expanse of ash.  Between the burning heat, the clouds of fine ash, and the high winds, the field began to feel like a never-ending wasteland.  We walked transect after transect as flurries of ash blew into our eyes and filled our noses.  Lee found some pretty cool pottery, but the rest of us didn’t have much success.  By the time we got back to the compound, we were filthy, smelly, and covered in a layer of black dust.

Survey is often frustrating, as usually we only find three or four sherds per ten meters, and sometimes not even that many.  Music makes the endless peering at the ground easier, so I started out my day with an optimistic “Drops of Jupiter.”  Six hours later, it was blowing ash and Nine Inch Nails blasting from my headphones.

After survey, we ate, showered, napped, and then reconvened to sort the pottery we’d found, wash it, bag it, and all the other necessary tasks before pottery experts can properly analyze the sherds. Then it was a (highly competitive, full of trash talking) game of volleyball. Score of Game 1: Nuri 15, me 9.  But it’s all right.  Next time I will destroy him.

-Sarah Hawley

The survey and excavation have yet to begin here at Tell Atchana, so we have spent the last few days learning some vital basic skills.  Sarah gave a rousing lesson on the art of pottery sherd drawing, a task that brings out the OCD in us all.  By the end of the day, we had spent so much time looking at rim types and inclusions that we became a bit delirious.  Obviously, punning ensued.

What did the potter say to the simple ware shallow bowl? – Don’t “Slip”

What kind of rim types are the most overworked and underpaid? – The ones that are “Inturning”

Why did the amphora think it was fat? – Because it had “Lug Handles”

After a good night’s sleep, we regained sanity and moved on to survey methods, the lesson that just kept on giving.  Have you ever seen those city workers in snazzy orange vests that stand in the middle of the street looking through little boxes on tripods? Well, today that was us! First we had to work our way across the compound to find the elevation of a post in the ground, which sounded scary but wasn’t too bad.  We finished in a timely fashion, and to everyone’s astonishment, we had the correct answer! (81.55 m above sea level, in case you were wondering)  Just when we thought we were done, Murat “the Monster” informed us that we would be taking measurements of 3 buildings using the terrifying $15,000 Total Station.  This machine uses an infrared signal and prism to read the distance and elevation of your desired point.  It was getting very hot and we had already heard 2 calls to prayer, so we were eager to finish quickly.  We got all of our readings in before lunch, and afterwards entered them in to a program to make  an aerial map of the buildings…. unfortunately, once our data was entered into the computer, ou rectangular buildings looked more like a scatter chart.  Oops!  Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow on our first day of survey!! 🙂

-Lexy Sinnott

p.s. This was written several days ago, but the internet has been cutting out lately