Trip to the North!

There has been a whole lot of traipsing around in the heat the past few weeks. First, Pam lead us on the annual water tower and city wall hike, lovingly dubbed the Idalion Death March. We all lived and had some excellent views of Dhali and the borders of the old city. 

More recently, Dylan and I rented a car and head to the North Cyprus border. 

Side note: You need a passport to cross, as Turkey has considered it its own country since 1974. However, the rest of the EU considers it to not be a separate country, and getting your passport stamped means you have a fake county in there, and it causes troubles at future border crossings. 
Anyway, the North was beautiful. First, we went to Famagusta, the city of Othello.

After that, we went to Salamis. These are some of the best preserved Roman Ruins in the world, and are all together spectacular to see. And they are next to a little beautiful beach with a bar, so we rented an umbrella and got a few drinks to unwind during the heat of the day.


We finished the day at our hotel near Kyrenia, The Manyola Hotel. It was spectacular, and the food was excellent, and the price was lovely.

The next day, we started off with a very intense climb of St. Hilarion, a beautiful set of castle ruins dating back to the crusades. 


The pictures can not do this place justice.

Also, they served us some delicious fresh squeezed lemonade at the bottom, and it tasted like all the best things in the life. 

We wrapped up with a sweltering walk through Kyrenia castle and the habour, where we wilted beneath the 125 degree heat. 


It was a wonderful trip. I am so glad I had the opportunity to share Cyprus with Dylan. This place has been an incredibly formative experience for me, and I am thankful for all the adventures it has given

Speaking of heat, modified schedule for digging this week, because in all the history of this excavation it has never gotten this hot, this early in the season. We haven’t adjusted and can’t seem to cool down, so now we leave for the site at 5 and dig until noon, with a long siesta and no afternoon field work. It’s helping, but it is hot.

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Now is the Winter of our Discount Tent 

Things are in full swing on site! We have made it through the rest of the weeding, and have just about finished clearing away at least two seasons worth of rain wash. 

It takes a lot of man power, time, blisters, and thorns to retake the site from mother nature.


In my square, that meant fifteen centimeters of flaky, cracked soil that pops up when you scrape it (what rain wash is supposed to be, and rather pleasant to remove) interspersed with heaps of lumpy gross melted mudbrick from the exposed architecture (very dense and compact, and nerve wracking because it is difficult to tell if you have made it through the technically worthless rain wash and are about to accidentally blow through the layer they stopped on last season). 


But we managed, and now we are on to the part that I have been most excited for: baulks smashing! 

This involves using a big pick to remove layer after layer of the one meter wide sections left between the squares. It makes a significant mess, but you can find all the best stuff hiding in the baulks, and it it very satisfying to see that much progress happen so quickly.

This went really well until I fell through a hole in our baulk mid swing. One second, standing, next second, ankle sucked through to Hades, arms flailing as I try not to fall off the side of a four and a half foot drop.

This was a new one for all of us.


Alas, I did not find a secret tomb. Only one particularly perturbed giant burrowing spider, who seems to have taken up residence in a forgotten hedgehog hole. 

Speaking of spiders: this guy was hanging out over my siesta for the other day.

I would show a quarter for scale, but I thought he might rob me. Just know, his body was as big as a quarter.

Not a big fan.

The team has adjusted pretty well to life lived outside. We sleep in big tents and small tents, and try to keep cool when they turn into ovens during siesta. We have port-o-potties, which are an endless chemical experiment in 110 degree heat.


Also, Dylan is here! He has become a bottomless source of optimism and enthusiasm here for all of us. And he is a pretty top notch archaeological student.


I have a pile of photos to upload, but right now the wifi at this restaurant is not letting me post them. More coming soon!

We are powering through, smashing baulks, stomping spiders, and making the best of a rather odd season.

Pre-Season Madness

Hello!

Made it safely to Cyprus!

I was briefly misplaced at the airport, but some calling around and web-digging by Dylan got me back on track and to a cot in the Nissou house by 3am.

I’m here with Emily and Andrew, to lovely people with a good bit of cynical humor and some quality archaeological puns, and we are enjoying the pre-season calm before the storm. We’ve been very productive. The main project has been working on a database of all our dig finds from years gone by. There has been a good deal of physical effort put into getting the house ready for the 16 archaeologists who are going to be descending upon it in the upcoming days.

Today I attacked the prickly caper bushes with a bolt-cutters, and we swept, raked, and hosed the shower area into submission. Then, we assembled the out-door showers! After that, more database work, a quick lunch, and jumping into unloading the army-tents and cots that we will all be sleeping in and on. We drove with Frank, our resident supplier of army-surplus turned archaeological equipment to his house in Pissouri. He had a pool, and brandy-sours, and two adorable dogs, so there is nothing more I could want except maybe to stay longer.

It sounds like this year we will not be renting the gymnasium where we usually stay. Though I will miss the space (and gloriously bountiful showers and toilets) we will get by here. We’ll be setting up some smaller tents, and everyone else will line up cots in the big army-tent. We’re going hard-core this year. Hopefully we can get some portapotties, because I don’t know how well we will all get along sharing one bathroom otherwise.

Here’s one angle of this little place, between editing research articles and databasing and drinking nescafe.

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Think it looks cluttered now? There may be wars over surface space.

Tomorrow, we will get the yard cleared and the remaining curtain on the shower, or else Cyprus will get to know us a little too well too soon.

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And more database.  Always more database. Turns out, we’ve found a lot of things! For three days straight of working, we have almost completed a single square’s worth of finds from a single season.  There’s a lot more where that came from!

Emily and I were tasked with pitting cherries, and in exchange, we got to eat one of the pies Dr. Gaber made. Pam bakes a mean cherry pie.

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Our hands and table both resembled a murder scene. But the pie was delicious.

This year is certainly going to be an odd one. We’ll spend a good chunk of the season back-filling squares, getting the site ready for its close. It’s going to be a small team coming together for the end of the Idalion excavation. I expect a mix of celebration for the great adventures gone-by, continued shenanigans, and mourning the conclusion before us. I plan on going out with a big-pick held high, bucket-scars on my legs, and another year’s worth of stories.

 

Idalion, 2017

It begins.

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Probably for the last time.

My flight is at 1am, tonight (tomorrow), out of JFK.

I’m going pre-season, for 3 weeks, because it turns out jobs are a thing and they like you to work sometimes, even though there is all this great dirt to play in and rocks to lick and things to find.

Something new and exciting: Dylan gets to come with me! He’ll join me in a week and stay until we both have to return to our careers on July 9th.

He’s one of those objectively lucky people.  The universe just kinda loves him.

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“Heyyyy! It’s this guy! We love this guy!!”

He gets out of parking tickets, homework assignments, speeding tickets, pop-quizzes, and the dishes he drops don’t break.

He won a car on The Price is Right. Really. This gif is ACTUALLY him finding out he won.

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Even though he has no experience in archaeology, and our site has never yielded any sort of vast riches (besides knowledge), with him on the dig it is suddenly near-guaranteed he’s going to find a cavernous grotto of previously unknown discoveries. Perhaps the Rosetta Stone of Eteo-Cypriot to Linear B, dipped in gold, with pictures of UFOs.

This is possibly the final year for the Idalion excavation.  It’s a complicated subject.

Time to go make the most of it!

An exercise in antici—

I’m the worst at keeping a blog updated, apparently.  Whoops. Sorry.  This season has been a rather quiet one online, but we are screaming into the final two days of the post-season.

Yeah, the season ended last week.  And I didn’t tell ANYONE ANYTHING ABOUT IT. I’M SORRY.

But I will post pictures and give you all a great summary as soon as I get home.  Things are still super busy, and all the time I have in wifi is being used to finish up the publication.  I will see what I can do.  But thanks everyone for putting up with my extended silences while I play in the dirt. You’re the real MVP.  I will write as much as I can now.

I got to fly the drone!  It flies very nicely in windless conditions, but even a slight breeze would pitch it into the deepest and least convenient holes around.  There is also a 30 ft wide cactus patch next to the site to which the drone seemed to possess a magnetic attraction   All in all, I had a marvelous time flying it, and I didn’t suck at it.  However the drone decided life was cruel and my demands unrealistic, so it took every opportunity it could to try and end its miserable existence.  Ultimately, it succeeded, but not until I finished photographing the entire site.

DCIM999GOPRO

The first real photo I took with the drone. That’s me on the left!

The last photo I took with the drone, after it performed a suicidal swan dive into a caper bush.   In other news, my arms are made of melting rubber.

The last photo I took with the drone, after it performed a suicidal swan dive into a caper bush.
In other news, my arms are made of melting rubber.

I was the only one allowed to fly the drone under Pam’s instruction, but my friend Konrad was very persuasive.  He eventually borrowed my clothes and was a much better Taylor than Taylor. Konrad/Taylor expressed his/her support of Konrad flying the drone.

Konrad, the Superior Taylor.

Konrad, the Superior Taylor.

Pam consented to what could have been glorious or a disaster, but alas, the drone saw an opportunity to find itself in Death’s sweet embrace first. I doubt the timing was purely coincidental.

The three lab puppies I was fostering are being flown to the UK in the next few weeks to wonderful homes!  I hope they have wonderful lives far different from their less-than-gentle Cyprus beginnings.

My friends and I made mudmasks out of the leftover flotation samples.  Macky, Brigid, and I are terrifying.

Macky trying the mudmask.

Macky trying the mudmask.

Brigid and I trying the mud mask.  It actually did really work nicely, AND we got to look absolutely horrifying as it dried.

Brigid and I trying the mud mask. It actually did really work nicely, AND we got to look absolutely horrifying as it dried.

A few weekends ago I went to Salamis and Kyrenia and a lot of the North side of the island! It was spectacular, and I took far too many photos.  Too many for here, but I’ll post a few.

This is me in a trunk.  I really really wanted to get to Salamis.  Don't worry, I was only in it for ten minutes of the 8 hours of driving.

This is me in a trunk. I really really wanted to get to Salamis. Don’t worry, I was only in it for ten minutes of the 8 hours of driving.

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This ancient statue showcases the classical style “blonde pinheaded goofball with sunglasses”.

This statue was probably much better looking 1700 years ago.  Time can be cruel that way.

This statue was probably much better looking 1700 years ago. Time can be cruel that way.

The Cathedral at Famagusta was one of my favorites.

The Cathedral at Famagusta was one of my favorites.

Salamis

Salamis

This is the very tip of Cyprus.  Turkey is over there somewhere to the right.

This is the very tip of Cyprus. Turkey is over there somewhere to the right.

Actually I lied, THIS photo, twenty feet to the right and actually facing toward Turkey is the very tip.  The other photo is just cooler.

Actually I lied, THIS photo, twenty feet to the right and actually facing toward Turkey is the very tip. The other photo is just cooler.

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At Salamis

I climbed St. Hilarion!   Honestly, it was the highlight of the journey to the north for me.

I climbed St. Hilarion! Honestly, it was the highlight of the journey to the north for me.

In St. Hilarion, at the queen's chamber window.

In St. Hilarion, at the queen’s chamber window.

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The roman toilets at Amathus.  It's a time honored archaeological tradition to pose.

The roman toilets at Amathus. It’s a time honored archaeological tradition to pose.

And that's all folks.

And that’s all, folks.

I think that is all I have time for at the moment. Thank you all for following me around on another adventure.  It’s been a blast, and I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown.  I will see you all on the State side soon, and hopefully in Cyprus another day.

(…pation.)

Diggin this.

Hi! Sorry for the delay.  I seem to have ended up with far less spare time than I originally anticipated.  While this has kept me from writing stories or posting on this blog, it has kept me busy enough to avoid much homesickness!

An update on my war with the bugs: Casualties rise on both sides.  My prediction proved more accurate than I expected.  I went to wash my hands the other day and A GIANT SPIDER CLIMBED UP MY LEG.  Yeah, no.  I didn’t like that.  I don’t know if it was the same spider or it’s mean older brother, but it looked similar enough, and then it looked significantly more squished. We’ve now killed four of those monsters.

Also, a hornet stung me on my belly button, so there’s that.  It was right next to that same sink, so I no longer use the second sink from the right in the bathroom.  It seems to be their home base.  But we bought more bug spray and my empathy is wearing thin.

I’ve been out of the field for a week now, and instead I have been working inside on the Ceramic Registry.  Every scrap of pottery we pull out gets saved, but the ones that are diagnostic or are significant for figuring out the shape of the entire pot (rims, handles, bases, etc) get a special number.  That number I write in tiny little numbers on the sherd, in the book of all the registered pottery, on the tag, and in a different book specific to the square from which it came.

Itty. Bitty. Numbers. Or maybe just puffy fingers.

Itty. Bitty. Numbers.
Or maybe just puffy fingers.

However, I get to work with some really awesome pieces like this one!

A finger print from the Hellenistic in the glaze on the back of a sherd.  Secondhand fingerprints always give me chills.

A finger print from the Hellenistic in the glaze on the back of a sherd. Secondhand fingerprints always give me chills.

Generally I work on this until Dr. Gaber picks me up around breakfast time, and then I switch hats from registrar to research assistant.

The research part of my job has become much more focused on citations and editing as of late.  That’s because I am coming into this process late in the game, and the paper is pretty much all finalized.  Still, I never knew how picky Archaeology journals can be with their citations.  AJA (American Journal of Archaeology) alone has 37 pages detailing the specific rules and their tiny exceptions for formatting and citations.  It physically hurts my brain, but I’m in good company.  Dr. Gaber and I are both constantly muttering to our computers as we search and change (and rechange) elements of the bibliography to make it match the standard.

Mind-numbing as it sounds, I am actually really enjoying the work on both the paper and the registry.  I came here looking for a broader view of the island and how our little site in this little town fits into the bigger history of Cyprus and the Mediterranean, and I am getting it.  I have gotten to read a lot of very enlightening papers, and I’ve made myself a reading list of ones to look into more once I get time.

Last weekend we went into Nicosia to see the Cyprus museum, and I ran in to CAARI to scan an article for Dr. Gaber.  After that, we were free to roam around the old city.  A few of us crossed into the Turkish side of the capitol and had a grand time poking about markets, bazaar, and coffee shops, and old architecture.  I don’t know who let me lead the group, but we were lost from the moment they let me walk in front.  I know this might make some people nervous (sorry mom) but I found some of the coolest places by getting a bit lost off the beaten path.gf

One guy in a lovely umbrella’ed alley invited us to see his restaurant, recently redone and absolutely magnificent inside. He took us up to the roof to see the city, with the mosque right next to us just finishing a call to prayer.  On the ground floor he showed us the only mildly alarming but extremely weird life-sized wax figures in the basement beneath a glass floor, looking up with vaguely pleased expressions.  He called them his grandparents, and we couldn’t get much more of an explanation from him, though we was laughing at our confusion.  Apparently the building was bombed in 1974, so my imagination is creating a story that might be a bit closer to the truth than I’d like.

Thankful for the shade, appreciative of the colors.  To the right is the weird wax-people restaurant.

Thankful for the shade, appreciative of the colors. To the right is the weird wax-people restaurant.

I also found the best description for soap I’ve ever seen.  “Smeels”.  I bought it.  It doesn’t really smeel good, but I don’t know what I was expecting.

(Smeels good?)

(Smeels good?)

Also, we went to a starbucks before a sushi dinner. (I know, I know, why go to a starbucks in a foreign country?  Because wifi, iced coffee, and air conditioning after over ten miles of walking, that’s why!) There, I found the most unique misspelling of my name I’ve ever experienced.

Five it ten years and I'm sure my name will be the new Caitlyn of alternative spellings.

Give it ten years and I’m sure my name will be the new Caitlyn of alternative spellings.

Really, it was a wonderful day, and the next day a few of us went swimming at a friend’s pool.  It was a wondrously relaxing, though I did get my first real sunburn of the season, and I have been feeling it all week.

Also PUPPIES.

Jimmy, Mocha, and Riley

Jimmy, Mocha, and Riley really want to come out and lick your face and/or jump on your lap to eat a flip flop and cuddle.

The three lab puppies we are fostering are ridiculously cute bundles of love.  They need more attention than we are able to give them, but they aren’t dead like they were supposed to be, so we aren’t doing so bad.  I’ve been caring for them a lot, and one of them might be headed to a new home soon.  Fingers crossed! If any of you are interested in adopting or sponsoring one of these cuties, let me know!

Mocha says

Mocha says “Please???”

Puppies in the shelter here at Dali don’t live, but there is a group organizing to try and help get them adopted and into foster homes.  If you’re interested in supporting them, the link is here https://www.facebook.com/groups/dogrescuecyprus/ . Having now worked with them, I can attest to the worthiness of their cause and the dedication of this small group to making a difference in the lives of these dogs and the families they go to.

This is all I have time to write about this morning, though the adventure of this weekend actually trumps the adventure of last one! Stay tuned, and stay cool!

BUGS

Okay, so a lot has been going on recently, but I am too tired to write it all out right now.  It has been a great past few days, and being a research assistant is wonderful, and we have three chocolate lab puppies that require more care than anticipated but are cute beyond all reason.  So many cool things happening, and I’m feeling great.

But right now, I need to type out my issue with bugs today, so that I can capture this ridiculous moment while still fresh, and possibly before I die.

Today, I killed a lot.  I had to pour bleach on an anthill, which led to a lot of apologizing by me and a lot of dying by the ants.  Neither of us liked our roles very much, though I suppose mine was better.

A mosquito on the edge of my nostril woke me up from siesta, and the carnivorous bees are getting more active than usual.

Then, just a bit ago, Tenninger and I were cleaning the bathroom when she found a spider.  I’m pretty good with spiders.  I spare spiders when I can, squish them when I have to.  But THIS SPIDER.  wow.

When most spiders spend their days chilling in their webs, munch mosquitos and spinning their nets, this spider when to the gym, pumped serious iron, and feasibly took multiple rounds of steroids.  This spider was the size of my fist, but if I were to punch it, I have no doubt it would make it stronger. This spider had stared Death in the face and Death said ” Oh shit, that’s a big spider.”

Well, I picked up a broom and bludgeoned it. Yet it refused to die.  I think it laughed.  I sort of loose my composure, and start using words I don’t usually use, wacking away at this spider.  As Tenninger said, the broom was useless. We needed a shotgun.  It kept laughing.

Eventually it curled up, and I felt the usual twinge of remorse.  I turned my back on it to pass the broom WHEN IT RAN AT MY LEG.  The bludgeoning continued, Tenn threw her flipflops at it, and eventually the spider passed into whatever the Valhalla is of spiders.

So, at last, I got in the shower to wash away the rather buggy feeling.  Something else got in the shower too.  Something sinister, plotting how to best use its tiny life to remove this sunburned archaeologist scourge from the earth.

All was going fine.  Navy shower, soap, shampoo, etc.

Suddenly, MOTH.

IN MY EAR.

IN THE SHOWER.

It bid the world goodbye in vain.  Despite its best efforts to avenge the fallen, I did not die.  It just managed to make me feel very unclean while I was in the final stages of getting clean.

So, I am marked.  The bugs want me dead, and I fear the worst is yet to come.

The spider wasn’t in the dustpan when I dumped it.