Time is flying by. Last week’s major accomplishment was the removal of a LOT of earth and stone moving. The aim is to remove obstructive material so that we can see and excavate buildings and levels we know to be there. Sometimes we rely on our students for the heavy lifting, but on big projects, we also get help from our Greek collaborators who bring in special lifting equipment. We are very grateful to the Ephorate of Boeotian Antiquities and to the town of Arma which provided the lifting expertise and equipment.
Soon this blog will be updated by our students. This entry will provide an update on our excavations at Eleon, report on a great celebration for the Thebes Museum, and a note the conference in Athens where results of our work was presented.
The second week of excavations went very well. More progress is made to uncover the important remains of the Blue Stone Structure. The complex is quite large, extending toward the north and east. We revealed a heavy packing layer of rubble fill that was most likely part of the earthen mound erected over the structure. For greater visibility and to understand better the architecture we unfortunately had to remove a tree onsite as well. Our very helpful and enthusiastic neighbor, Mr. Panagiotis, happily cut it down and was glad to have the valuable firewood.
On Tuesday, a few senior staff members attended an opening celebration of the New Thebes Museum. The president of Greece was in attendance along with several other very distinguished guests. Our colleagues, and the Thebes Museum Director, Dr. Alexandra Charami hosted the event and kindly acknowledged our successful collaboration at ancient Eleon in her speech. Below shows EBAP team members attending the Thebes Museum opening and viewing jewelry mould from ancient Eleon, among other finds, now on display.
On Saturday, Bryan Burns and Brendan Burke attended the 40th Anniversary Conference of the Canadian Institute in Greece. This two day event was well-organized and highlighted the wide range of work by Canadian scholars working in Greece. Excavations at ancient Eleon were featured in two talks, one focused on the Bronze Age remains and another on the Archaic and Classical material. After the conference, speakers and guests were invited to a great dinner under the Athenian Acropolis.
Our first week of work for the 2016 season concluded yesterday. Returnees and new-comers to the project are all settling in very well to our daily routines. We depart from Dilesi as the sun is rising over Euboea. Our caravan is made up of four cars and one van. The routes to the site vary but take about 20-25 minutes. Nearly all of us listen to the local, eclectic radio station (FM95, N-R-G). Some bring breakfast with them for the commute.
On site we number at least 20 people and the first hour or so is spent getting the tools out and equipment set up. Applying sunscreen is also a must. Trench supervisors are mapping out their day’s work, making tags and labeling buckets for the daily finds. Currently we are concentrating our work in two trenches with about five to six students in each. Our architect arrived late last week and came directly from the airport to the site, after a transatlantic (Toronto-Athens) flight! Her dedication and enthusiasm is an inspiration to us all.
In the apotheke – our processing and storage area – our team works to conserve finds and study the various deposits of ceramics. We also have our drawing and digital Eleon teams located there as well.
Our on-site workday ends around 1:15 when we break for lunch in the village. This is prepared for us by our incredibly helpful partner, Stavroula and her family. The food is always delicious and traditionally Greek. Most pile back into the cars and we return to Dilesi for a few hours of rest and relaxation. Some swim, others nap.
Work resumes at 5 pm for sherd washing and processing and other necessary parts of excavation life. We work until about 7 pm, have a light refreshment before dinner at 8 at a nearby seaside taverna. Most of the team is in bed by 9:30, ready for the next day.
We’re back! 2016 Season starts Monday, May 30.
Check back here soon for more updates!
by Ashley Hopper
by Vaughn Gaston
Advanced Excavation Techniques: The Future Digger
(A Non-Intentionally Alliterative, Complimentary, Semi-Collaborative Continuation of Mr. Jones’ Previous Blog Entry)
Please be cautious in attempting any of the following presented techniques, as many of them require considerable balance, excellent physical coordination, and perhaps a couple of extra handfuls at nut break. Additionally, anyone with a history of cardiac illness, weak lung capacity, or lack of mental fortitude should refrain from the following, or consult a specialist before attempting to engage in any of the activities listed below.
The Flying Sherd:
Once again, the title of this technique is description enough. It is a technique found most useful in tight, awkward spaces, in which zembili placement options are adequate at best.
The Schliemann Shuffle or The Heinrich Hop:
It depends on the region: in Beotia it is referred to as The Schliemann Shuffle, and in Attica, The Heinrich Hop. To perform this technique, simply make a lateral two-step hop to move positions while digging with a pick. The technique is conducted in order to maximize picking efficiency, covering more ground without having to reach, therefore preventing possible muscular injuries.
The Foot-Flick and Catch:
The brilliance of this technique is due to its simplicity. By catching the shaft of ones’ hand-tool with the laces of the shoe, the fall is cushioned, the floor of the trench avoids being marked, and energy is not wasted by bending down to slowly place a tool. Furthermore, the opposite technique may be applied by sliding one’s foot under the shaft of a grounded hand-tool and lifting/flicking the foot; raising the tool in a quick but controlled motion. This technique not only maximizes labor efficiency in terms of speed, but also saves ones’ lumbar region from a possible chronic injury. Plus, it looks cool.
Shirts, Shorts, and Sherds:
The Stratigraphy Sommelier:
by Sydney Giesbrecht
The Small Pick:
Required for more detailed work such as articulating large rocks or cleaning a bulk at the end of the day. A pick does less damage then most other tools because when breaking into the earth there is only on small point of contact rather than with a shovel where more extensive damage can be done due to its width.
The Trowel:A multipurpose tool.
Sometimes it feels as though there is nothing that a trowel cannot do. During my first few days on site the trowel felt awkward in my hand and I wasn’t quite sure of its full purpose. Now after 5 weeks on site it fits naturally in my hand, almost like an extension of my arm. A trowel to an archaeologist is like a scalpel to a surgeon. Since arriving on site not a day has gone by that I have not required my trowel. It can be used for a variety of things on site ranging from scraping a bulk to examining soil changes on a surface, or simply collecting dirt into a dustpan. It’s most important use in my experience is for checking for changes in soil on a surface. For example if you are working on a surface using picks and shovels you may not notice a change in soil density that clearly. If one area is denser or more clay like then another, a quick scrape on the surface with the edge of your trowel will help to clarify any changes.
Brush:Necessary for all cleaning styles
The brushes found on site range from paintbrushes to large brooms. Small straw brushes as shown in the image above are particularly useful for brushing off rocks and cleaning uneven surfaces. Paintbrushes can be used on site for more delicate work and gentle cleaning in order to not damage or displace the item being excavated. For example if you were to come across a mud brick that you wanted to articulate and photograph a paintbrush would to the least damage. Larger brooms can often be used on harder surfaces at the end of the day to clean up, in a similar fashion to the way you would sweep the floor at home.
The Dust Pan:
While dustpans may seem insignificant in day-to-day life they are very important at an excavation site for soil removal. When working in smaller areas where a shovel is not an option, the dustpan is a lifesaver. Also very helpful at the end of the day to clean up any messes created during excavation. A clean trench is the best kind of trench.
The Water Bottle:Most important tool of all.
Without water nothing can be done on site. This may seem silly but dehydration is no joke here at EPAB. With hot days and lots of physical activity you can become ill very quickly if you aren’t drinking lots of water. The average team member will drink 2-4 liters of water before lunch. If you aren’t hydrated you cant dig, and that’s no fun for anyone.