Our relatively late dinners (8 pm, v early by Greek standards) and early start time (in cars by 6 am) don’t allow for extensive breakfasts before work for most of us. So, by 9 am, we are happy to see our Arma partners bring us our daily bread (and cheese, lunch meat, fruit and nuts).
We have mayonnaise and mustard on hand too. We break around 9:15, sitting on a dirty tarp on the ground. Everyone is hot, tired, and dirty and no one cares. The food tastes great.
Sometimes announcements are made, sometimes just dumb life stories are shared. On some days, we are all so hot, so tired, that no one speaks, and that’s okay too.
After about 25 minutes, its back to work! We take a second shorter but similar break around 11 too.
We had a great first week. We have resumed work in the Blue Stone Structure, an early Mycenaean enclosure dating to about 1700 BCE. Work here is very complicated and delicate.
We also returned to finish some work in the Northwest area, with domestic structures dating to about 1100 BCE.
And, in the Southwest, we had a very small team focused on some site consolidation and preservation. The stratigraphy (levels of building and use) here is fairly complex so we had our most experienced team member directing the work here.
Saturdays on the dig are very nice. The site is generally quiet, free from visitors (whom we love, of course), and peaceful. We work from 6:30 to 12, which is, in our minds, a half day. We’ll have our usual healthy breakfast snack but lunch and dinner is on everyone’s own. Sunday is a full holiday.
Yesterday our friend Sotiris visited the site, with his large backhoe. He has helped us remove very large collections of rocks in the past and this has proved very helpful as we try to present a coherent understanding of the site. Yesterday was no different. We are very grateful for his interest and help. With some areas prepared, we are ready to start digging full-on.
Today we are getting on to our normal schedule, which means departure from Dilesi at 6 am.
We can enjoy the sunrise over the island of Euboea and watch the moon as it sets.
We will work until first break, around 9. We usually have ham and cheese sandwiches, lots of fresh fruit (cherries yesterday were incredible), and mixed nuts.
After break we may take trench tours to see how the work is progressing in the different areas. Students will start giving these informal, short presentations soon. Then we break again at 11 or so. At 1 we’ll clean up the areas where work was happening for drone photography. Tools are stored away and then we all go to lunch in the village around 1:30. That’s our morning!
In record time, our site is cleaned and prepared for new excavations. Our partners in Thebes have been very helpful with advice and necessary permissions, as has the Canadian Institute in Greece.
We will start with two trench supervisors, directing five or six student volunteers each. Students come from the US and Canada. Our architect roams between the two areas of study. The two co-directors (Burke and Burns) provide advice and support in various ways
Work in the apothiki in Arma focuses on the study of the finds, including ceramic fragments as seen in the photo above. Dr Trevor Van Damme is assisting UPenn graduate student Janelle Sadarananda with her dissertation research.
Our team had a very good first day on-site for 2018. We have a great team of about 30 students and scholars working very hard to understand ancient Eleon.
Today involved removal of large tarps, originally intended as lake liner material but used to protect the site over the winter. The tarps held up excellently and will allow us to start real excavation quicker than any previous year. They prevented excessive weed growth and any damage from rain or snow. They also seems to have provided an attractive home to some very large snakes.
Our team was very cool about these interesting guests. We have requested that the snakes move on.
Tomorrow, after some well deserved rest, our excavations will begin in earnest. We have a great team and look forward to exciting results this summer.
On this cloudy and blustery day in Athens, several team members have already arrived and many more are en route or are just zipping up their suitcases for the last time before flying overseas. We will have a team of just about 30 people – about average for our project. Some will be experienced, entering their second decade of working with us! Others will be very new, for some it may be their first time out of Canada or the US. Everyone is excited about the work ahead and what we’ll learn about ancient Eleon.
We will start work next Monday morning on site (provided it doesn’t rain!). The first task will be to see how things held up over the winter. It was a fairly mild winter without too much rain/snow so we should be okay. We are all also very curious to see how the large black lake-liner tarp held up, how much it prevented unwanted weeds and other things from growing and creeping around our excavated remains. I have no doubt that soon after Monday morning the tall grass, prickles and thistles will be stomped down or removed and quite quickly the wild rural landscape will transform itself into an active, archaeological site.
And before work starts on site, we will also be setting up our living/work area/office space in Dilesi this coming weekend. Team members will be assigned roommates and will start to settle into their new homes (for the next six weeks). We very much look forward to returning to our second family – the Mamonis in Dilesi have been a part of our lives since 2007. We are fortunate, and very grateful, to have them as our friends and supporters all these years. Here’s to a very successful 2018!
Our field season in 2018 will run for six weeks, beginning May 28 until July 8, 2018. We currently have a full team of participants, new and returning team members from the University of Victoria, Wellesley College, Texas State University and elsewhere. All together we should be about 30 people.
We very much look forward to returning to our colleagues and the communities of Arma and Dilesi. We are very grateful to so many friends who have been helpful to us since we started work here in 2007. We look forward to a successful 2018!
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Many thanks to Sara Daruvala for sharing her perspective on life and work at Eleon, with her award-winning touch!