Closing Up Shop

by Max MacDonald

Well it has been an awesome five and a half weeks here at EBAP we’re all very tired and hot, hot, hot! We’ve ended most of our efforts in the trenches this week, save for the few brave souls left in exile at what our Game of Thrones obsessed team has simply dubbed “The Wall.” This week the rest of us are experiencing the other aspects of archaeology that don’t involve a kazma or karotzi.  There are pottery records to be filled out, sherds to be photographed and data to be entered into the computers, it’s not always exciting, but it’s an interesting experience and can still be lots of fun.

Data entry takes patience.  It can be very relaxing and cool, unlike other jobs during the day.  It requires you to type up the written reports from each separate locus and lot in each trench. A locus represents a feature of a trench such as a structure or a change in soil consistency (usually it’s latter) whereas a lot is simply the order that excavation takes place within the trench.  Each locus and lot have there own pottery sherds that need to be examined, processed and recorded, the finished record is sent to the data entry person who enters it into the computer.  There are many, many, many sheets that need to be entered.  People working data entry also enter other finds from the site, as well as flotation finds and bone records.

Pottery processing is carried out in the back garden of our accommodation and is when each bag of pottery is dumped out, sorted and recorded.  For the past two days I’ve been working with Emily, sorting pottery from her trench into three separate categories base on the quality of the clay, coarse ware, medium ware, and fine ware.  Coarse ware is usually the easiest to spot, it has lots of intusions, larger grains and is very rough. It is usually used to make large pots or cookware. Medium ware is average quality pottery and usually thicker than fine ware.  Fine ware is usually the nice stuff: smooth, sleek, the iPad of ancient Greek pottery… usually… mostly, it’s all really subjective. After the sorting the pieces are weighed and counted, and any paint or diagnostic feature that could reveal the sherd’s date is recorded and given to the data entry people to enter. Then the processing of the next bag begins.

The floatation team has been working hard to process the large amount of soil samples (that are ten litres each!) that have been collected from the trenches over the past two weeks.  Recording charcoal and seeds and what-not and giving their sheets to the data entry people to enter.

Now that there are so few digging in the trenches, pottery washing has become less and less time consuming.      Our clothes are covered in a bit of dirt and lots of sweat, rather than lots of dirt and lots of sweat.  Soon we’ll be tarping over our work and packing up the books, tools and finds that we’ve been working with and digging up since the beginning of June.

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