Jens Notroff is a Berlin-based archaeologist (also holding a degree in history and journalism) involved in research projects from Scandinavia to the Middle East. His research interests include the Neolithic period and Bronze Age, with a particular concern for the representation of power and social hierarchy in prehistoric societies, places of cult and ritual together with the question of their archaeological evidence as well as burial customs and mortuary ritual (with a peculiar curiosity for so-called deviant burials). Still not accepting he might be a bit late for the ‘golden age’ of exploration, Jens sets out to journeys reaching remote destinations in pursuit of sights, sites, and answers at any given opportunity – journal and sketchbook always at hand. He is committed to monument conservation and promoting cultural heritage protection, not only in conflict areas but with a necessarily shifting focus onto these in the light of recent geopolitical events. Pen on desk or boot in dust, he is gladly contributing his share.

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)