I’m currently in Greece on an excavation. I can’t tell you exactly where – we have to keep the location secret to protect the site and to abide by the reporting restrictions imposed by the Greek authorities – but I can tell you it’s currently going very well. I am the finds specialist, which means I work in the local museum processing and registering all the finds from the excavation.
This involves washing ceramic sherds, entering details and measurements of every object into a database, taking photographs of every find, drawing all the diagnostic pottery (rims, handles, bases and decorated pieces), and making sure all the finds are safely stored away for study by specialists next year. Luckily I have other members of the dig team to assist me!
We have some free time in the afternoons, which I also fill with archaeology. I’m a member of the Well Built Mycenae team and my job is to publish an important part of the Cult Centre at Mycenae. This area was excavated in the 1960s but the site turned out to be so complicated that publication took much longer than expected. However, I’m now at the stage that involves editing images for which I need to use my more powerful desktop computer. Obviously I wasn’t able to take that with me into the field(!) so I can’t do any work on that project at the moment. Instead I’ve been using the afternoons to produce an article based on my PhD research, which investigated how metal vessels fitted into the social and political system of Late Bronze Age Greece. It may seem strange at first to think of the use of metal pots as an important way of expressing social status and significance. Yet even today, expensive metal vases are often awarded as a prize; just think of the trophy handed out to the winners of the English FA Cup! Publishing articles is a vital part of archaeology as it allows research to be shared amongst the archaeological community and makes it available to future generations. It’s also one of the best ways to gain recognition in your field, which is essential when you are a post-doctoral researcher like me. The archaeological job market out there is highly competitive at the moment, so I’m hoping that the work I do now will eventually be enough for me to land a long-term university position.