2009 Post season wrap-up, part 3

Well, we've come a long way this season, but it's finally over. The staff have checked out, my excavation computer and tape measure have been returned, and the excavation areas are all closed up and sandbagged for winter.

But how, you might ask, did we get from what you see in that picture to the left, to the cleanly defined walls and surfaces that showed up in the last couple of entries?

Okay, I'll admit: We used a big mechanical excavator for some of it. But not all that much, really -- most of the dirt was shifted by hand, by one of the best groups of volunteers that it's been my privilege to have worked with.

Now, it's true that there were times that the supervisors did a bit of work themselves. Why, I've even got a bit of photographic evidence to support that assertion: Here's Philip Johnson, busy with brush and gufah. But honestly, we spent most of our time making sure everything was going the way it ought to be, and filling things out on our trusty computers.

Which weren't the only responsibilities the staff had. Every week, there'd be a tour of one of the areas of excavation, which meant that we had to have our squares clean enough that people could see what was going on, and we had to give a little discussion of what it was that we've been finding. This was difficult for me, as I was never sure about what I was finding, but other people did an excellent job of explaining exactly what it was they had turned up.
Here, for instance, you can see the estimable Kate Birney explaining what's going on in Grid 51. As Kate is a high level black belt, I fear admitting that I'm not sure what's going on in her grid, but I can't say that I remember much of what she had to say. Please don't kill me, Kate.

And then there were the side projects. I had this blog, which I'm almost entirely done with. Other people were working on things like ceramics typologies, geology, zooarchaeology, and so on. As far as side projects go, this was actually a pretty modest effort -- maybe an hour or so a day, more when I had time for it. Unlike trying to sort out the Persian period material from previous seasons of excavation, say, which is something that involves, y'know, real work.

Sean Burrus, for instance, was one of the excavation's photographers, in addition to being a square supervisor. Here, you can see him taking a picture of me taking a picture of him taking a picture of . . . aaah! That was on one of the days where everyone in Grid 47 worked their tails off in 47.44, cleaning up after the excavator; you can see the effects of that day's work in the less than pristine shirts displayed. And that was in something like hour two of ten.

Not all the work that the volunteers did involved heavy lifting, of course. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures of pottery washing, or of people writing on their potsherds, both of which are jobs that are absolutely necessary for the excavation, and both of which require constant attention to detail.
However, I did get a shot of Heather Calhoon using a pair of tweezers to sort hundreds of tiny beads. Again, something necessary, and certainly something that requires constant and focused attention. Heather may have gotten roped into doing that particular job as a result of being the registrar's sister; there are consequences to things like that.

Which isn't to say that the dig was nothing but work; there were also field trips, and, as the season drew to a close, a couple of parties, as well. First off was the finds display and reception; here you can see the registrar, Jessica Calhoon-Long, and Sara Hoffman standing behind the table, while everyone involved in the dig stopped by to look at some of what had been found over the last two seasons.

And, all credit to Jessica, it was a heck of a display. Some of that had to do with the quality of the finds, but more had to do with the choice of which finds to display, the logic of their arrangement, and the descriptions of each piece that Jessica wrote up. I'd love to show some of that work in detail, but the finds are the sort of thing that are going to be finding their way into peer-reviewed publications before too long, and it's generally considered bad form to put that sort of thing in public view before it can be properly published. But trust me: it's great stuff.

And, in addition to looking at the finds that had been so expertly displayed, a pair of hand made and decorated plates were presented to the director emeritus of the excavation, Larry Stager, and the excavation's sponsor, Shelby White, in recognition of the fact that they'd been with the project for twenty years. Which is really a significant amount of time to spend on a project; unfortunately, there's kind of a reason why I wasn't one of the dig's photographers, which can be seen in my failing to get a picture showing the decorated side of the plates.

And, on a similar note, I didn't get any pictures of the final party, which took place last week. Which is unfortunate, as it was an excellent party. There were extremely silly presentations, and a pair of music videos, which . . . well, if you weren't on the dig, you'd probably find them puzzling. But they were hilarious, honestly.

And that's about it, really. I'm not sure how many people have been reading this, but I do get the sense that it's more than one or two; for all of you who have been reading, thanks for your time, and I hope you've found it some combination of enjoyable, informative, or entertaining.

See you all around!