The end of any excavation is usually an experience outside the normal routine of the dig; this seems to be especially the case in academic excavations, where many of the participants may have left prior to the final day due to other commitments. This was at least the case this year at the site of Teleac; a late Bronze Age hillfort in the Transylvanian region of Romania, run by the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin (DAI). I was taking part in the field school as a PhD student of the Forging Identities project.
On the last day on site we were down to a rather small team, which meant that I was the only student to go up to site, whilst the others stayed at base camp to finish tasks there, such as packing up the artefacts. I got a lift to site with the Bulgarian geomagnetics team; these guys were surveying the site with equipment that can detect differences in the magnetic field of the ground, which means that archaeological features such as ditches can be seen through their difference to the surrounding undisturbed soil. Since we arrived a little later than usual, we had missed the tractor which usually pulled all the equipment up to site; therefore we had to carry everything up the steep hill where the site is located by ourselves. This was facilitated by carrying the magnetometer without its case.
Once I finally made it up the hill along the slippery, muddy track to the site, it had started raining pretty heavily. It was then my job to draw the section of a sondage; this means drawing the vertical face of the small but fairly deep trench we had dug in a corner of the overall excavation area, whose purpose had been to find out how deep the cultural deposits of the site went before reaching the natural, undisturbed soil of the hill below.
Once I had completed my drawings, I helped the local workmen (high school students earning a bit of holiday money by helping out on site) with back-filling the excavation area. This means putting back all the soil we removed over the course of the fieldwork, so that the site is protected until used again, and no animals or people can get hurt falling into the deeper parts of the trench.
Thanks to the rain, it was no longer possible for the tractor to safely make it back up the hill to collect us and the equipment, so we had a long, muddy walk back down the hill again, taking great care not to slip or fall.
Back at the home base, various final tasks were being completed in between power cuts caused by the thunderstorm…
After at last managing to find enough time between power outages to shower, it was finally time to pack my own things and have a last farewell drink with what was left of the team. The end of another good season, and for me – time to think about my journey to the next one!