30 June 2008

Too hot to handle

I finally got a sunburn today on my arms and the tip of my nose. Ouch! We spent a good hour hauling crates of pottery and groundstone down 3 flights of stairs before loading them in a truck to be buried on-site (note: these objects have been looked at a million times, measured, weighed, drawn, photographed, entered in our database, etc.). It was nice to get out of the house and into the sun, but alas, my skin paid the price. As if I wasn't hot enough already, temperature-wise! My body right now is just aching from all the heavy lifting and up-and-down the stairs.

The tepe was surprisingly calm and quiet. Even the Tigris was barely flowing. It was a bittersweet trip really since we have finished excavation. All that remains now are our half buried trenches and the thistle bushes. Give it a few years and almost the entire tepe will be underwater. Hard to believe from the photos huh? I apologize for the dorky self-portrait.

Today we finished our data entry and tomorrow morning we head for the museum to get our exports approved. Then it is back to the house to pack up and clean up, which means more heavy lifting of beds, fridge, etc. down to the depot. Sigh. Wednesday afternoon though we are out of Bismil and I am one day closer to eating fish on the Bosphorus in Istanbul.
The internet at the house may go down tomorrow, so this should be my last post until Friday or so. Stay tuned!

26 June 2008

Hi Mom, I'm alive

Ok so I realize it has been a long while since I posted. I can easily blame 1) dig drama, 2) tons of work going on and 3) being very very sick. Not to worry though because the fever and bloody noses have subsided (yeah!) even though the cough remains. Darn dusty dig houses!

We are in the last throes of the season now with Cano having already left us and Marie and Dave leaving on Saturday. Always sad when the team begins to disperse like this, mostly because I miss my f
riends and then there is so much more work that the rest of us have to pick up the slack for. We did enjoy a wonderful 2 days off last week though when a bunch of us traveled to Urfa.

Despite the incredible heat and my on-again-off-again fever, we had a nice time lounging in the cay garden, feeding fish at the Abraham Pool, going out to dinner with Susan Pollock and Reinhard Bernbeck (2 archaeology big-wigs), climbing the kale and of course shopping in the central market. Marie and Dave bought some lovely carpets and kilims and I scored a pair of sac tava pans, 2 terra cotta shallow dishes for menimen, a load of scarves for gifts and a few other odds and ends.

An Urfa highlight was we got to photograph some Roman mosaics that had just been uncovered near the city center. The museum director was kind enough to let us have a look and snap some shots, though I admit the glaring sun and my outdated digital camera did not do them justice. Photoshop of course fixed all that. They were just beautiful, picturing mythological scenes with Amazonian women riding horses and killing animals.

I'll try and post again before our internet at the house is disconnected. Tomorrow is our day off in Diyarbakir, then back to work for 3 days before we pack up the house and I fly to Istanbul for some serious R&R.

18 June 2008

Sick in Bismil

Stupid Cano. He's been sick all week with a sore throat and cough. I suppose it was only a matter of time before it got to me. Must have been when he stuck his tainted spoon into my wonderful strawberry ice cream at the cay garden last night. Too bad it had to coincide with summer coming to Bismil and now the weather is noticeably warmer. It sucks being sick when you are not at home and especially when you are 7,000 miles away on top of that. Where is my B to make me feel better?

It's finally our long weekend which means we have Thursday and Friday to explore the very fun city of Sanliurfa ("Urfa"). I've been there twice now and must say that I like the place. Abraham's pool filled with sacred carp (which are the fattest fish I have ever seen!), the citadel, and of course the central market is amazing. I'll definitely be cleaning up on the gifts for the peeps back home there. That is, if I feel better in the morning. Fingers crossed!

14 June 2008

Fingers crossed for ancient dates

As I have reported before a 2,000-year-old date palm seed was discovered at the famous site of Masada in Israel in the 1960s. Since then researchers have been able to germinate the seed and now, according to the J-Post, the "Judean date" palm is set to bear fruit (inshallah) in 3 years; the fruit of course being a now-extinct species of date. How cool is that? According to the article, this date species was "renowned in ancient times as a treatment for heart disease, chest problems, spitting of blood (eww), weakened memory and other medical conditions." I simply wonder what it tastes like. Is it nice and sweet like our modern dates? I'm sure give it 20 years and we will see the (sadly) mass marketing of this ancient date.

Diyarbakir break...finally!

We finally had a day off on Friday to relax in Diyarbakir and not have any schedules/deadlines/agenda. Yeah! We rolled into town around 9-9:30am (our agreed upon time) only to find that the boys, who had gone ahead on Thursday to have a "guys night out," were very hungover and still asleep. After their rude awakening, we headed over to the Emniyet (police station) to retrieve our resident permits.

By the time we were done there, it was lunch time and that meant an obligatory trip to Burger King. I don't know what it is, but the Crispy Chicken Sandwich tastes 10X better in Turkey than at home. After our bellies had been filled with greasy fries and over-sized Pepsis, we got some water at the local Migros (grocery store) and headed out for an afternoon of scarf shopping and carpet looking at our usual rug shop hangout.

We made a quick pit stop at the Dying Goat Saloon before heading out to explore some more of the city including an art exhibition inside the old city walls featuring really interesting and provocative work by a local Kurdish artist. After a few hours of wandering the back streets encountering tons of very sweet children, curious adults, and even police (who warned us to watch our bags), we returned to the saloon for some beers, pistachios, and sac tava for dinner.

It was hard as hell to return to the apartment and back to work today. I think everyone was feeling it, but since time is running short for many (Cano only has 11 days left) we realize that lots of work has yet to be done. Back to the grind...

11 June 2008

Stir crazy

We've been working 11 days straight now and things are starting to get interesting. And by "interesting" I mean "repetitive-activity-bored" and a "wee-bit crazy." Pottery has been our life: Cano has been photoing like a mad man. B-Dawg and Jason are reading pottery. Baris and Melek are drawing pottery. Ramazan is washing away and Dave and I spent 4 HOURS Munselling pottery today on the balcony with the lovely cry of children and smell of Bismil wafting up from the alleyways. By the end of the afternoon, every sherd was starting to look 5YR 6/6 light reddish brown so we called it a day.

Thank God tomorrow is our last full work day before the weekend (read: Friday). I'm sure we will all kick off around 3 or 4pm anyway so I am looking forward to that. Maybe get in a little game of pool before the girlie movie night begins. The boys have decided to have their own night out in Diyarbakir so they will be leaving Thursday night and we'll stay at the house because frankly, I don't feel like paying for a hotel room if I don't have to. We'll be joining them in town the following morning anyway. In the meantime, us girlies have a night full of "Princess Diaries," wine, and chocolate planned. Sweet!

08 June 2008

It's all scientific

Believe it or not, this chaffy pile of unfired mud brick is an artifact. Lovingly called "Mount Vesuvius" (and other, more crass names that I won't mention for my mother's sake), this find was taken from the floor of Cano's Ubaid period (i.e. 5,000 year old) house at Kenan Tepe in 2007. To this day, we still have absolutely no idea what it was used for. Pottery tournette? Donkey hitching post? Pterodactyl coprolite? We may never know, however we still need to record it. Apparently though it is really freaking heavy and required some ingenuity to weigh the thing. Marie and Dave (pictured left) managed it today just fine using all the modern weights we have in the lab along with an ancient mortar..very scientific.

I've been rocking out to the new Death Cab album while doing pottery reading, and I have to say that the album rocks. Not quite sure why all of B's co-workers don't like it, but I am slowly realizing that our musical tastes are not inline. Oh well, to each his own.

Movie night was last night here at the dig house. This time it was "The Mummy" (the new one). It made me especially homesick since that is the movie B and I saw on our first date and we watch it all the time at home, and thus has special meaning for us. That became totally apparent when I would be laughing at certain parts that B and I find especially funny and no one else would. Ah well, the special bond of husband and wife I guess.

06 June 2008

In the groove

Work, it seems, is now in full swing here at the dig. However yesterday was mostly a wash since we had to spend half the day in Diyarbakir dealing with our resident permit issues. This of course means a ton of waiting around while paperwork is filled out then processed then approved..blah blah blah. At any rate, we have to do this every year so I guess we should be used to it by now. Plus this meant more time spent at our favorite in-town establishment, the "Dying Goat Saloon" (the name is a story that I may tell another time). This trip it was only lunch, but most other times you can find us pigging out on dinner, beers and nargile-all the key ingredients for a lovely evening.

As this is a study season for a time period that I am not personally involved in (Ubaid), I am pretty much the lackey for Bradley, which is fine. I've basically been doing what is needed like washing pottery and groundstone, analyzing pottery and pretty soon finishing up the final flotation samples and managing all our exports.

Cano* and I today rigged up a sweet pulley system to draw artifacts up 4 stories from the first floor depot up to the lab. Our bucket and rope system needs some refinement, but in the end this will be a big help and time saver (despite what some nay-sayers say). We are most proud that we went around Bismil ourselves, without a translator, and managed with our broken Turkish and smiles to acquire all the necessary pulley system materials. We even ran into Ramazan, one of our oldest and best workmen, while we were out. So funny that we have our own peeps to "run into" in town.

Dave, Marie and I have also been plotting our next move: running our own excavation project in 2010. More on that later...

*Photos courtesy of Cano!

03 June 2008

Internet lounge is open for business

Greetings from Bismil, Turkey! We all made it here safe and sound on Sunday and were lucky enough to secure apartments in town to serve as our "dig house" for the season. Ironically, these apartments are located in the same building in which the project was originally housed during earlier seasons. Lovely how things tend to come full circle. Not so lovely is the fact that the old hajji who owns the building is still as cranky and nosy as ever! Some things never change.

So after much cleaning and hauling of equipment, supplies, and necessary domestic accessories (i.e. beds and mattresses) up 3 and 4 flights of stairs--no lie--our living and working quarters are finally ready to go. Our best addition to the house this year is our "lounge area" which is basically a bunch of mattresses laying atop mats on the floor (see pic). Thus far we have added cheesy painted statues (a gift from our cook) and plan to add girlie posters soon. The most important feature though was added today: the wireless internet. The lounge is now a fully-functioning wireless hotspot. How spoiled are we?

Our government rep arrived today, which means we have officially begun the 2008 season at Kenan Tepe. Woo!
Today was mostly consumed with hauling crates of artifacts up from the depot, washing some pottery and ground stone, and discussing our plan of action for the coming study season. Sorry I don't have any more interesting stuff, but hey, things just got started. Stay tuned.

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