My Month as an Archaeologist

My first time as a real life archaeologist was even better than I imagined and it’s all thanks to the Northern Mongolia Archaeological Project, short for NMAP. Run by Dr Julia Clark from the American Centre for Mongolian Studies and Dr Bayarsaikhan Jamsranjav from the National Museum of Mongolia this field school offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to investigate nomadic pastoralism at the site of Soyo in the Darkhad region in Northern Mongolia. The team was comprised of a variety of nations; Mongolians, Australians, Americans, Scottish, British, French, and Swedish. Though all originating from different cultures, languages, and education, we all spoke the common language of archaeology and excitement!

The back side of Soyo mountain.

The trip gave me experiences in a variety of areas, but some of the archaeological that first come to my mind are working with Ian Moffat (Flinders University), and Dave Putnam (University of Maine at Presque Isle). Ian was on the team in order to construct an image of the whole site using GPR (http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/archaeological-geophysics-in-northern-mongolia/). As a student of Ian’s we were given the task of walking up and down the sloping hills of Soyo, more often than not scattered with boulders ranging from the size of a hand to the size of a tent! Strapped onto our back was the radar which every 2cm would send pulses down into the ground to a depth of roughly 4m before bouncing back up. As we moved forward the screen depicted the data we had just collected, and it was fascinating being able to see what was beneath our feet and what it would mean later on for the site. Apart from GPR we were able to fly a kite with a camera attached to it up in the air to capture an aerial image of the site. What I definitely learnt from trying to fly a kite multiple times, was that all one needs is a storm and a kite goes right up! Learning about GPR, and learning how to work the technology associated with it was fascinating and a preview into what I see as the way of archaeology.

Ben Turcea and Evan Holt digging one of the test pits.

Working with Dave will always be remembered as the time I baptised my Marshalltown trowel. We dug six test pits in total and every test pit provided a different stratigraphic image of the landscape. Two of our test pits reached a depth over 140cm, with one of them even hitting permafrost which was an exciting discovery! Dave, along with Ian were able to describe each of the different layers we were viewing and bring them to life. Reading about stratigraphic layers from a textbook will never be the same let me tell you that! What I found extremely interesting were that the glacial boulders we encountered were at different depths at each test pit and units. Additionally I was able to help dig out the deeper test pits while upside down which just shows I’m fit for the role of an archaeologist!

Evan Holt and Adam Nelson giving me a helping hand.

This trip will be one of the most memorable excavations in my lifetime and I would recommend it to anyone! My only recommendation is that when you’re offered goat, take as much of it as you can because you’ll want seconds!

Archaeology at Tintagel… on the edge of a cliff!

[I begin with two things – a confession and an apology. Firstly, the day I’ve chosen to describe in my Day of Archaeology isn’t actually the 29 July – as that day I was happily walking the south-west coast path and sitting on a beach in Cornwall. So I’ll be describing my day on Tuesday 26 July instead. Secondly, apologies as it’s being posted so late – the holiday is the reason for that too!]

Tuesday wasn’t a typical day in my role as Senior Properties Historian at English Heritage, but as I struggle to describe a typical day that’s nothing unusual. The day was spent at Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, where there are currently excavations being carried out by Cornwall Archaeology Unit, on our behalf. I drove down in the morning to meet a couple of TV crews – one from BBC Spotlight and another from the ITV local news, who had both been invited to cover the story of the excavations. After re-reading our press release and having a quick chat with our PR manager, I gave a couple of interviews about why we were carrying out the project, and took the crews up to the excavations to meet the archaeologists and show them the site.

Looking across to Tintagel Castle headland from the mainland.

Looking across to Tintagel Castle headland from the mainland.

I’ve been involved with Tintagel Castle for a couple of years, working on a complete overhaul of the interpretation and visitor information on site, alongisde various improvements to the cafe, shop and ticket points. We installed a new permanent exhibition in the visitor centre in 2015, and added a range of interpretation panels and artistic installations to the site at Easter 2016. My role was to carry out the historical and archaeological research, write the text, commission the reconstructions and models, and also to work alongside artists and interpretation colleagues to deliver the rest of the project.

The new exhibition at Tintagel installed in 2015.

The new exhibition at Tintagel installed in 2015.

So, what are we doing now at Tintagel? This is the first year of a five year research project which aims to find out more about the early medieval (post-Roman) settlement on the site. Occupied between the 5th and 7th centuries AD, this extraordinary defended site had somewhere in the region of 100 buildings scattered across the headland. It was linked to a trading network connecting it to the Mediterranean world – more imported amphora and fine tablewares, as well as fine glasswares, have been found at Tintagel than anywhere else in western Europe. We assume that this was an elite, possibly royal settlement, occupied perhaps by the rulers of the kingdom of Dumnonia. But there is much that we don’t understand – when exactly was the site occupied? What sort of activities were being carried out on site? Was it a seasonal settlement? What did the buildings look like? Were they stores, workshops or houses? Although excavations took place at Tintagel in the 1930s by C. A. Raleigh Radford, this was largely clearance work to display the building remains to the public and many of the records were lost when Radford’s Exeter house was bombed in the Second World War. A small amount of work was carried out in the 1990s by Glasgow University but it was restricted to the area already disturbed by Radford.

Site C, a range of buildings excavated by Radford in the 1930s and again by Glasgow University in the 1990s.

Site C, a range of buildings excavated by Radford in the 1930s and again by Glasgow University in the 1990s.

Cornwall Archaeology Unit (CAU) have been commissioned to carry out this research work which involves two seasons of excavations, plus post-ex analysis and publication following. This year’s archaeological work is an evaluation of two key areas of the site to establish the nature of the post-Roman remains and to identify one of the two areas for more in-depth archaeological work next year. The two areas were chosen as they were likely to preserve good archaeological stratigraphy and were undisturbed by medieval activity or later archaeological work. The first area is on the southern terrace where a small trench was opened as part of the Extreme Archaeology series in about 2003 – remember that? It had some dramatic footage of Alice Roberts dangling off a rope but actually the terrace is very accessible and not that scary to work on! The second area is on the eastern terraces, not far from the visitor steps up to the chapel area of the headland.

Whilst the TV crews were filming the archaeology and interviewing colleagues, I had a chance to look at the trenches for the first time. As I write the excavations are still ongoing, but early results look very interesting, with walls and areas of paving, and lots of finds including amphora fragments and pieces of glass.

Staff and volunteers from CAU hard at work in one of the southern terrace trenches.

Staff and volunteers from CAU hard at work in one of the southern terrace trenches.

Once the media interviews were over, I went up to the mainland courtyard to check on the set up for my talk to visitors. We have been hosting events for our visitors all week to tie into the excavations – regular talks from the site team in the morning and then a programme of talks from different specialists in the afternoon, as well as hands-on activities for children. Various staff and volunteers from CAU have also been on hand to talk to visitors about the archaeology at the trench edge. Of course, this is one of the busiest times of year being the summer holidays, so it takes quite a bit of time to get up and down the steps to the headland due to the sheer numbers of people – this narrow and steep route is the only way on and off the castle, at least for the time being!

My talk is entitled ‘Tintagel: where history meets legend’ which is also the title of the exhibition. I’m trying to explain to visitors how history and legend at Tintagel are completely intertwined – you can’t understand one without the other. My audience is typical for Tintagel visitors at this time of year – lots of families, children and a few attentive dogs. I try to explain how the site has became attached to the tradition of King Arthur and also introduce them to the other key legend at the site – the love story of Tristan and Iseult, and weave in the history of the site too. They all listen wonderfully and then I get lots of questions about the castle, the archaeology project and King Arthur. Various people come up afterwards to ask more questions about the site, including one teenager who wanted advice on becoming an archaeologist.

After a late lunch, I head back up to the castle to see how the panels and installations were being received by visitors – it is lovely to stand near a panel that you have written and hear people read it out to their children and see them engage with the sculptures and reconstructions.

An interpretation panel at Tintagel Castle

Visitors reading one of our new interpretation panels near the Great Hall. This one has the remains of a medieval feast in bronze on the top.

I also wanted to take some more photographs of the archaeology in action and speak to the volunteers. We had been planning to have lots of social media coverage but unfortunately broadband has been down at Tintagel for several days and there is no mobile signal, making it difficult to upload posts! Luckily one of the volunteers is a dab hand with photogrammetry and has made some brilliant 3D models of the trenches. He is also happily filming everyone with a handheld camcorder for the BBC’s Digging for Britain.

Unexpectedly I have a spare morning before my second talk to visitors tomorrow afternoon, and my offer to help in the trenches is seized upon by the team – luckily I have packed my trowel. It’s not often I get to actually do real archaeology – this will be a first in 11 years in the job!

Planning the trench - what a view!

Planning the second trench on the southern terrace – what a view!


A Day of Excavation

(by Meaghan)
Friday July 29th 2016
4 am – Up packed and ready to jump in the car to drive the 300+ kilometers to the site. A historical dig in the city. This will be my first ever dig experience so I’m more than a little nervous. Its dark when we pull out of the driveway and partner suggests I go back to sleep while he drives. I try closing my eyes, but don’t sleep. We stop at a roadhouse on the way for a quite coffee and an egg and bacon sandwich. I feel a little more relaxed after that.
8:15 am– We didn’t get lost or stuck in traffic so I arrive at the site earlier than requested. It’s a rare empty space between city buildings. Walking in I find myself behind a tall fence looking at a graded dirt lot which a number of people in florescent work jackets are already shoveling loads of earth into wheelbarrows and cleaning sieves. Outside the fence you can hear all the typical noises a city makes, but the site itself is like a quiet oasis.There are three shipping containers at the back of the lot, I ask which direction to the office to sign in and two women cleaning sieves point towards them. The woman in the office gives me a warm smile when I enter, signs me in and gets me to wait in one of the shipping containers which has been converted into a lunch room with a refrigerator, microwave and urn for hot water. It is far more civilized than I’d envisioned. I find out that the third container is the bathroom and the other the conservation lab where another group of students will be working to clean, assess and catalog any artifacts uncovered.
9 am– Formal site induction with the site supervisor and several other students on work experience. I find out that I am the only one in the group who will be staying the whole day, but I will most likely work with one or more of these people next two weeks, so I try to remember their names.
10 am – I’m sent to the field area to find the supervising archaeologist where I’m handed a trowel and a shovel and instructed to start scrapping back a small area. The earth is harder than I thought it to look at. In the process I uncover a rounded deposit of really sticky clay which I am told may indicate the location of a post hole. The archaeologist supervising tells me to mark around it and move onto another area and see what else we can find.
10:50 am – we break for morning tea. Its cold and has threatened rain all morning so we all huddle in the lunch room. Everyone is super friendly, which is a relief. Some of them have already been working on this  project  for weeks before the dig began, others only started on Monday. Some wander to a nearby cafe and come back with coffee. I must remember to bring some change for coffee when I return next week. It smells really good.
11:20 am– I spend an hour and a half with one of the archaeologists scraping back earth to reveal yet more areas of clay while another group work at uncovering stone foundations. The supervisor deems the area they have named “Site A” clear enough for us all to start scraping back in a long line. We start at the outer edge of the site and trowel back, removing debris and the loose earth left by the excavators. There are about ten of us working in a long line, each troweling an area approximately a meter and a half wide. Senior, junior archaeologists and work experience students work side by side, all at the same task.  The archaeologist I’m working next to shows me how to work the trowel and alternate hands so I don’t get cramps. She tells me which size trowels work best for what areas and another tells me where to get decent quality ones online. I find some broken crockery pieces and bottles, and a lot more clay.
1:45 pm– It drizzles rain and the supervisor calls lunch. Most of us head for the lunch room, a few head back to the cafe. In the lunch room the archaeologists chat about other places they have worked and their favorite and least favorite projects. I try and file away some of this information for future reference.
2:30 pm- The rain has stopped and we are all back to troweling. Everyone is in good spirits and chatting away about archaeology, places they have worked and  the kinds of characters they have met on digs in the past. Troweling is almost hypnotic, but by 3:30 my knees are getting stiff and my arms starting to ache. The ground is damper now, which is making it somewhat easier. Someone finds a broken piece of a smoking pipe. There are pieces of ceramic pots and more slivers of broken china and glass.
3:45 pm- We’ve all but finished troweling back Site A and it rains. Properly this time. We wait it out in the lunch room.
4:15 pm – The rain stops. Site A is full of puddles and slippery clay now. The site supervisor makes the call to abandon Site A for today and start hoeing back Site B, which sits much higher and has still to be dug out. We spend thirty minutes or so with everyone hoeing and shoveling out wheelbarrow loads of earth and debris before it begins raining again. By this time we are all very muddy.
4:50 pm – The site supervisor calls it a day. We all put away tools and sign out in the office where myself and the other work experience students are handed our days stipend, a small payment to assist with the cost of transport to the site and lunch etc. There is very limited parking around the site so those who live or are staying locally must use public transport, which I decide I will do next week to save five days of long drives.
5:10 pm- My partner meets me in a nearby car park where I awkwardly  change out of my muddy boots and clothes in the back of our car before the long drive home. It takes us over an hour just to get out of the city and onto the road home, but I don’t mind. It gives me a chance to tell him all about my first day.Somewhere around the 100 km mark I fall asleep mid-sentence and don’t wake until we pull into the driveway

Archéologie d’un village de Touraine

Bonjour ! Nous sommes Jean-Philippe Chimier et Nicolas Fouillet, tous deux archéologues à l’Inrap et membres permanents du Laboratoire Archéologie et Territoires de l’UMR 7324 Citeres (université de Tours). C’est à ce double titre que nous dirigeons un programme de recherche sur le village d’Esvres (Centre – Val-de-Loire, France). Ces recherches ont pour objectif l’étude du village dans « la longue durée », des premières occupations du site à la période gauloise à aujourd’hui. La particularité de ces travaux est de mêler archéologie préventive et archéologie programmée. Ces dernières sont constituées de prospections au sol, de sondages archéologiques, d’études de documents d’archives, d’inventaire du patrimoine bâti et d’une enquête documentaire. Au total, ce sont près de 50 chercheurs qui ont travaillé sur le programme depuis sa mise en place en 2011.

Esvres, le centre-bourg © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap, 2012

Esvres, le centre-bourg © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap, 2012

L’étude du village dans sa globalité a nécessité une immersion au sein de la communauté, qu’ils s’agissent des élus, des agents communaux et bien-sûr de ses habitants. C’est aux Esvriens, sans qui nous n’aurions pas pu écrire cette page d’histoire, que l’équipe archéologique souhaite rendre hommage à l’occasion de ce « Day of Archaeology ».

Les habitats et les habitants.

Une partie des opérations programmées correspond à la réalisation de sondages manuels ou d’observations architecturales chez les particuliers. Nous avons globalement été accueillis avec bienveillance, mais gagner la confiance des habitants est un travail qui s’est construit doucement, au fur et à mesure des campagnes de terrain. Il nous a fallu constituer un réseau à partir des quelques contacts que nous avions initialement.

Surveillance de travaux au chevet de l’église et visite spontanée des riverains. © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Surveillance de travaux au chevet de l’église et visite spontanée des riverains. © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Sondage chez un particulier, et dans le cimetière gallo-romain ! © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Sondage chez un particulier, et dans le cimetière gallo-romain ! © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Relevé d’une cave au scanner 3D © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Relevé d’une cave au scanner 3D © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

C’est la municipalité qui a apporté les premières clefs en organisant en 2009 une exposition sur les premières fouilles préventives. Depuis lors, nous avons travaillé en collaboration avec les différents services : la culture bien sûr, mais aussi l’urbanisme, les services techniques et la police municipale. Esvres possède aussi un réseau associatif actif et dense qui a permis de nous faire connaître. Nous avons rencontré les membres d’associations diverses (randonnée, parents d’élèves, conseil économique de la paroisse…), mais c’est surtout grâce à l’association locale pour la défense du patrimoine (ASPE) que nous avons pu entrer en contact avec des particuliers motivés et intéressés qui nous ont donné accès à leur propriété.
Il nous a aussi fallu rencontrer les habitants par nous-mêmes, en expliquant au cas par cas ‑ et au porte à porte ! ‑ la nature et les objectifs de nos travaux. Malgré nos appréhensions, nous avons rarement été déçus et en tous cas jamais mal reçus !
La réalisation de prospections pédestres sur des terres agricoles a nécessité de pousser la porte des fermes pour avoir l’autorisation d’accéder aux champs. Par l’intermédiaire des viticulteurs d’Esvres qui nous ont  accueillis chaleureusement, nous avons pu facilement collaborer avec les autres agriculteurs.

Prospections pédestres au milieu des vignes avec des stagiaires de l’université de Tours. © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Prospections pédestres au milieu des vignes avec des stagiaires de l’université de Tours. © Jean-Philippe Chimier, Inrap

Les sondages archéologiques manuels, aussi limités soient-ils (jusqu’à 3 m²), ont révélé l’extension d’un habitat gaulois et antique et ont permis d’explorer les occupations médiévales du village. L’étude des bâtiments du bourg a mis en évidence une série de maisons anciennes, dont certaines dateraient de la fin Moyen Âge (vers 1500). Elles sont souvent dissimulées au milieu de constructions plus récentes et nous avons quelquefois eu de bonnes surprises, au détour d’une trappe oubliée.

Rendre aux Esvriens ce qui appartient aux Esvriens

Même si à notre sens, restituer à tous le résultat de nos études doit être la finalité de toute recherche archéologique, c’est encore plus vrai dans le cadre de ce programme. Depuis le début nous avons tenu à informer les Esvriens de l’avancée de nos travaux. Chaque mois de septembre, lors de Journées européennes du Patrimoine, l’équipe propose plusieurs interventions. Une d’elles est toujours consacrée au bilan des travaux de terrain de l’année en cours et au moins une autre communication présente un thème ou une période particulière. En juin, lors de Journées nationales de l’Archéologie (JNA), nous évoquons l’histoire et l’archéologie d’Esvres lors d’une « archéo-balade », une sorte de visite-conférence du village qui remporte toujours un franc succès malgré un nombre de places limitées. En 2014, toujours lors des JNA, une rencontre a été organisée avec les chercheurs de l’équipe qui ont présenté leurs travaux. Ouverte à tous le samedi, elle était réservée aux enfants des écoles la veille et, on l’espère, aura permis de créer de nombreuses vocations…

« Archéo-balade » durant les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2013. © Laurent Petit, Inrap, 2013

« Archéo-balade » durant les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2013. © Laurent Petit, Inrap, 2013

Les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2016, rencontre avec les villageois. © Denis Godignon, Inrap

Les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2016, rencontre avec les villageois. © Denis Godignon, Inrap

Les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2016, initiation à la céramologie. © Nicolas Fouillet, Inrap

Les Journées nationales de l’Archéologie 2016, initiation à la céramologie. © Nicolas Fouillet, Inrap

2016 constitue la fin du programme de terrain mais pas la fin de nos recherches sur Esvres, il reste encore à réaliser la synthèse de toute cette documentation. De retour en laboratoire, comment valoriser nos travaux à venir ? Sans doute via internet qui permettra de garder un contact à distance avec nos interlocuteurs du terrain (vous en êtes peut-être la preuve en lisant ces lignes !) et de s’ouvrir à d’autres lecteurs, Esvriens ou non.

Jean-Philippe Chimier et Nicolas Fouillet, Inrap / UMR 7324 Citeres-LAT


Arqueoart Digging Love- Amor Estratigráfico: Hijos de Harris

¡Ya está aquí lo último de la mejor radionovela de arqueología de España!

Hijos de Harris. Nuevo capítulo de Amor Estratigráfico. (Cap 3 part. 1. Seg 2).

Hoy es el día de la Arqueología (http://www.dayofarchaeology.com/dia-de-la-arqueologia/…). En este capitulo presentamos nuevas tramas y personajes, que os harán ruborizarse el paletin. Que mejor que descansar a la sombra de la sombrilla o del caseto de obra mientras le damos al onanismo profesional escuchando estas aventuras de nuestros queridos arqueotipos sexuales (¿Todavía no tenéis vuestra portada personalizada de jalones y mazmorras?). Escuchad, comentad y compartir Hijos de Harris. Disfrutad del ‪#‎dayofarcheology‬ ¡Otra arqueología es posible!

By Arqueoart

Excavating the Athenian Agora: Then and Now

The American School of Classical Studies at Athens has been continuously excavating the Ancient Athenian Agora since 1931.

The Agora of Athens was the center of the ancient city: a large, open square where the citizens could assemble for a wide variety of purposes. On any given day the space might be used as a market, or for an election, a dramatic performance, a religious procession, military drill, or athletic competition. Here administrative, political, judicial, commercial, social, cultural, and religious activities all found a place together in the heart of Athens, and the square was surrounded by the public buildings necessary to run the Athenian government.

These buildings, along with monuments and small objects, illustrate the important role it played in all aspects of public life. The council chamber, magistrates’ offices, mint, and archives have all been uncovered, while the lawcourts are represented by the recovery of bronze ballots and a water-clock used to time speeches. The use of the area as a marketplace is indicated by the numerous shops where potters, cobblers, bronzeworkers, and sculptors made and sold their wares.

In 1931 excavations looked like this:



image-5 image-4 image-3


Today in 2016, a few meters away, excavations look like this:

13669227_1022291617886154_7225824031500621067_n  13782294_1022291691219480_926340210917087740_n 13645119_1022291624552820_3336577771219192290_n13775822_1022291614552821_7590113705406843615_n 13631488_1022291621219487_8107559958583093262_n 13619909_1022291607886155_8124436550769339495_n

Read more on the Agora Website.


A Day with PRAM-CV: researching Early Medieval rural settlements in Castelo de Vide (Portugal)


Pram-CV is a research project in archaeology which aims to study the early medieval peasant communities that lived in the territory of Castelo de Vide, a Portuguese village in the northern region of Alentejo. The Pram-CV is hosted by the Institute of Medieval Studies (IEM, FCSH/NOVA) and supported by the Câmara Municipal of Castelo de Vide.

This year we are back to Castelo de Vide for another summer of archaeological field work and public outreach.

As a way of trying to get the local community involved into our research, this year we are promoting the program “Archaeologist for a day”. By giving the participants a taste of what real day to day archaeology feels like, we hope to achieve a better understanding of the archaeological practice and create lasting bonds with the archaeological Heritage.

On this Day of Archaeology a team of PramCV researchers is digging a test-pit inside an early medieval farmhouse. Our average day goes like this:

We leave the village at 6:00 a.m. sharp and arrive at the site after a 15-minute jeep ride and a 10-minute walk.

As soon as we arrive we take advantage of the fact that the sun is not fully out yet and usually take extra pictures. This year we are using photogrammetry as a recording tool and so far, it has been working pretty well.

Then we carry on with the excavation. Due to the acidity of the granite soils we’re working in, it’s very difficult to recover organic materials. Most of our findings include pottery shards, metal utensils and slags and stone tools. All meaningful finds locations are recorded inside the excavation grid through three-dimensional referenciation (x, y and z coordinates).


By 9:00 we take a small break to have something to eat and stretch our legs and backs.

We keep on digging until about 1:00 p.m. By this time the temperature is around 40º Celsius and its time to head back. We usually have a beer at Martinho’s, a small bar just outside the village.

Then we have lunch at the village’s Cultural Centre, cooked by Dona Antónia, our beloved cook. We always have vegetable soup, a second dish usually made with local products and a piece of fruit as desert.

After a well-deserved shower and a small break, we go back to work in the office. This includes the treatment and analysis of the ceramic finds (washing, inventory, description), organizing the excavation pictures and drawings… we keep on working until about 7:30 p.m. when it’s time for another beer just before dinner. Some days we have snails, a very typical appetizer during the Portuguese summer.


The next day we’re off again at 6:00 a.m. so we usually go to bed really early.

This is the 3rd year we’ve been excavating within the PramCV project. The results obtained so far show evidence of a complex rural society that farmed this land between the 5th and the 8th centuries. We have already excavated several farmsteads with evidence of both living areas (fireplaces, domestic pottery…) and associated activities, such as weaving, forge and cereal grinding. We have also excavated olive press structures that seem to be in use at the same time. Both domestic and productive structures were usually covered by roof tiles. We have been systematically recording the weight of all tile fragments recovered, allowing to reconstruct tiles density and dispersion. We have weighed more than 3500 kg so far!


At the same time, in all the identified archaeological sites we have rock-cut graves, dug into granite outcrops located near the houses and press structures. There are several theories about the meaning of this unusual funerary structures but one thing seems clear so far: they were built in direct co-relation with the structures and thus play a major role during surface surveys.

In August we will be excavating with a group of archaeology students from the FCSH of Nova University Lisbon and hoping to have more “Archaeologists for a Day”!

For more details: http://arqueopramcv.jimdo.com/

The project’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocBMcfYuv4g


A-Sitting On A Tell (Or: Just Another Day in the Field)

4.30 o’clock. Ante meridiem. Definitely too early for an honest “Good morning.” not pressed through clenched teeth. It’s still dark outside, the dim light barely enough to distinguish a black thread from a white one: The muezzin just called the faithful to prayer and, probably unintentionally, the archaeologists to finally get up as well. Breakfast at such an early hour basically consists of not more than some strong tea, a slice of soft white flatbread (which will be rather dry within the hour), and a handful of olives – taken in the quiet and still fresh morning air of the excavation house’s courtyard in the light of setting stars and a single light bulb. Actually, it’s too early for an honest breakfast too.

The next 20 minutes or so expedition’s staff is silently gathering over tea and bread in dining room and yard before it is time to go. For work, finally. On leaving the historic oriental brick-house in the old part of this eastern Anatolian town, everyone grabs a piece of equipment or provisions for the day to come and one after another heads through the narrow alleys towards the waiting mini bus and driver. A 20-minutes-ride through yet still abandoned streets lies ahead – to the excavation site outside and beyond town. The last chance for a nap.

To work. Through dim alleyways. (Photo: J. Notroff)

To work. Through dim alleyways.
(Photo: J. Notroff)