The last week of an excavation always goes by so quickly. As opposed to the first three weeks where we try to do as much as possible, the last week is dominated by our impending deadline. We try to keep everything we do to small projects that can easily be finished either in a day or in two days. After that, everything we do is devoted to making sure our site is absolutely ready for final photos. We level, clarify, and sweep as many times as possible until the photos are taken just to be sure that they’re to the highest quality possible.
On Monday I was assigned to work in the central room of the eastern side of the building. The task I was assigned to was to help level out the floor. This however proved more difficult than I had anticipated. This was an area in which many artifacts had been found and so it had been postulated that we were approaching the floor. As a result, we were limited to working with hand tools which reduce our chances of going through the floor. The real difficulty though was that the level going down happened to be made of the infamous white chalky substance and our progress was slow and tiring even to achieve the seemingly simple task to which we had been assigned. Working in this area was fun though because it gave me a chance to excavate again with some people I had really enjoyed digging with last summer. In addition, the area had two pillar bases which I thought were really neat since I hadn’t seen anything of their sort at our site before. The one real break I got in this area from flattening was when I got to cut a section. It may have taken less than 10 minutes, but it was fun anyhow. The leveling took up all day on Monday and Tuesday.
Wednesday was devoted entirely to cleanup. I was moved around to different areas in order to try to clean off as much dirt as possible. In order to do this as efficiently as possible, everybody sweeps from the highest points down to the lowest points so that even if any dirt evades our dustpans and buckets, it will eventually be caught on a lower level. The one difficulty though was that the wind was blowing against us. This meant that dirt from other people on lower levels blew back up and forced us to redo certain areas multiple times. At the end of the day though, the place looked ready to photograph.
Only a couple of people including myself went out for final photos on Thursday. We did last minute sweeping in certain areas that had been recovered with dirt and then swept out our footprints so that we could take drone photos. Once the various photos were taken, we covered up some of the more sensitive material to ensure its safety from looters and the elements and with that, the 2016 season was over.
All in all, this year was great. It was get to know new people, improve my relationships with people from last year, and to learn new archaeological skills. It’s kind of cliche, but the most important thing for me really was to have fun and I certainly had heaps of it. I hope I can find a way to work in my College’s dig and Abel in next summer. My next post will be from Greece, where I’m getting a fine appreciation for government bureaucracy.