Here we are at day 12 already, some of us counting down the days we can sleep in our own beds or shower multiple times a day, some of us yearning for a longer stay, but everyone in a relaxed, good mood after 10 days of hard work , new things and of course, Nick’s culinary skills matched with Simon’s desserts. Every day is a new one where the possibilities are endless due to the mass of new artefacts, bone and useless rocks being excavated. After snoozing the never-ending beeping nightmare of a watch waking me up at 6am religiously every morning, I roll (not too far as I’m on the top bunk) out of bed and to the kitchen for that coffee which turns me into a semi-functioning person. Students are of course, at their full potential after a good wholesome breakfast and a hot beverage. Already the theme song of “every day I’m shovelling” is in my head. The day from here lurches into GO mode which doesn’t stop until the last dish after desert has been put away and the tables wiped. Sunblock, lip balm, socks, shoes, raincoat, rain pants, more sunblock, plasters, hat, sunglasses and of course water bottle and backpack and off we go across to Coralie bay. After a short trench tour of seeing the ever-growing progress from the last day’s work, we settle into our respective trench areas and get down and dirty (literally). The trench tour has been an awesome – and for some, very scary- way of delighting (and horrifying) the lecturers and staff with our stuttering grammar and yearn to describe correctly what is really taking shape through our days of excavation. Cuts, deposits, layers, features, artefacts – slowly we are accustomed to the vocab and lingo we need to start breathing. And we have. And so we trowel, trowel, trowel and shovel, shovel, shovel and sift, sift, sift and label, label, label and then –its morning tea time- lunchtime- afternoon-tea time.
The day goes zoom! So fast. KABAMMM!! The joys of an annoying but nonetheless exfoliating sand storm thanks to the gusting winds means that we keep our backs to the weather and our eyes sometimes shut. In the main EA64 where I am working, (in one of the extension pits to the main area) today is about excavating through the layers and deposits and potential features in order to see if anything else arises. Let me tell you it is a trooper job trying to excavate when the wind is trying its hardest to fill your trench back in with sand. The finds over the week have been phenomenal, one of the more exciting excavations on the island (from what I’ve gathered from the regular excavators on GMI). Back in my trench however, many shiny obsidian pieces are admired and fewer fire-cracked rocks than before (thank goodness), with the hopes of a faunal assemblage or two to appear in the next scrape of the trowel. We fill out the necessarily paperwork for our fire scoop feature and then back to the scrape, scrape, shovel, shovel until the metallic clang of trowel meets artefact. Meanwhile in the trench over the way, EA66, fellow excavators Mana and Sarah are working their way through artefact mayhem – artefact literally every centimetre in a large clump, a hangi feature which they are patiently labelling and classifying. An exciting new game arises across the trenches – “Would You Rather” as we shovel and scrape and excavate into the afternoon. Soon enough it is the mad rush to leave everything to a good place until tomorrow and then the post- excavation work begins. People think studying archaeology must be this glamourous digging around and finding artefacts and exciting things but it is that and so much more. Cooking dinner, cleaning the toilets, labelling continuous pieces of paper with number sequences, drawing diagrams, flatting with 20 something people for days at a time, physical strength, and mental strength are a few others to mention. A little endurance is required at continuing in your trench when other people are coming across amazing bone fragments and faunal assemblages while you stare at your rock wondering if it is even fire-cracked. However – tomorrow is a new day and the opportunity to be surrounded by a real field project is amazing. Field school is an overwhelming experience with a glance into the chaotic yet rewarding all-round experience to the life of archaeology. Thoroughly enjoying the long hard days and the challenge it is presenting to practically learn every day and not just through the words in a textbook – to think on my feet and get stuck in. With only 2 more days of excavation to go – let the exploration and adventure continue!
Ciao for now,