Jillian Town

As of today, the dig is over. You wouldn’t know it because of my lack of blog posts – and I’m sure more than a few of you thought I was dead – but I really did spend my time in a faraway land digging for ancient treasure.

The dig was good and we certainly got a lot of work done. Unfortunately for me, I was the most experienced archaeologist in my field (except for my field supervisor) and was given a whooooolllllllllllllle bunch ‘o squares to look after.

Six. Six squares.

For those of you unfamiliar with this digging style, a square is a 6 x 6 meter area. So, technically, I had 216 square meters of responsibility. Not really, but close. I will recognize that Hew and Canty (two of my fellow square supervisors) kept some of those meters out of my hair and some of the parts of the squares fell outside of the diggable area due to walls. But I’ll let 216 square meters stand.

By the way, according to the woman in charge of our books (who has been on this dig for a couple of decades) that’s a record. And I won a bag of pistachios for it.

So, in addition to 216 square meters of responsibility, I was the object / artifact photographer. The main reason I came here. Things were going okay until I realized there was a huge mistake. A mistake involving people putting away artifacts before I had a chance to photograph them.

I did catch the mistake though, it’s just that I only caught it oh, a couple of days before all the photos were due. There were a hundred and ten artifacts that hadn’t been photographed. One. One. Zero. I had to sit down when I realized.

With the help of Sashiere, I spent four hours on Sunday hunched over a tripod. For the next few days after that, I spent hunched over a computer, editing each and every one. I was still needed in the field though, so I was still getting up with the 4:15 am bell, heading to the field for a few hours and then heading back to camp to immediately sit at the computer to edit photos. It was kind of exhausting.

Since the dig was still going on, on Tuesday morning, I had to photograph the last of the artifacts to come in. That was fine, it got done and I just had the long road of editing ahead of me, but it was okay, because at least I had finished photographing all the artifacts, right?

Fast-forward to our final pottery reading. All the pottery that has come out of my squares is laid out on the table and we’re getting them read by our chief archaeologist so we know what time period we’re digging through (different pottery comes from different time periods). There, sitting all by it’s lonesome is a spindle whorl. An artifact. Which needs to get photographed.

Me: It’s just a spindle whorl…

Field Supervisor: You can make it disappear if you want.

Me: *thinking*

Field Supervisor: You just have to chuck it somewhere.

Me: Can you do it? My internal ethical archaeologist says it’s an artifact and can’t be chucked…

Field Supervisor: I can’t do it either.

Me: …

Field Supervisor: I guess you have to photograph it then?

Me: *mind breaks* *starts crying and laughing all at once*

Yes. A spindle whorl broke my mind. I had hatred for that little chunk of ceramic and I will never forget that stupid thing so long as I live.


The good news is that I finished it all. Today was my last day getting up at 4:15 am. That, and I think I can officially say I’m an archaeological rockstar.

The spindle whorl photograph is courtesy of the Madaba Plains Project. I photographed it, it broke my mind, but it’s allllllll theirs now. 🙂

I’d also like to note that there’s no way my field supervisor was serious in telling me I could make the spindle whorl disappear. I think she was just trying to encourage me to realize that no matter how much I was done with photographing artifacts, I still had a responsibility to do it. And I’m really glad I did.

6 Comments on “Jillian Town

  1. I haven’t been on FB in awhile, mostly because it’s gone :-). But, It put a smile on my face seeing new updates on the dig. You’re seriously strong!.. 4:15am.. yikes..

  2. Thanks Stacey!

    4:15am isn’t *that* bad once you get used to it and if you manage to go to bed at about 8pm. Then, it’s totally do-able. But it still kinda sucks.

  3. Lol.. totally. At the end of it all.. it’s still 4:15am 😉

  4. I like Jillian Town. I was searching for four-room house reconstructions and saw that go by and had to do a double take. very nice. I also appreciate that my name does not appear in this post. AND your caveat at the end. 🙂 Sorry again about that spindle whorl. We should have dipped it in gold and handed it over. Would have had to melted some archaeological gold though, probably just as unethical. Hope you’re doing well where you’re at right now, going to miss you big time this summer. Maybe 2012? I’m sure we could up the record to cover all 10 squares in the field…

  5. Dear Supervisor who was in no way evil,

    Yes, I have all intentions of coming again in 2012. The good news is now that I have the hang of it it, there should be no cause for mind breakage during the season. I don’t know that I can manage 10 squares though, despite my skill of destroying sites.

    I’m jealous you guys are back there this summer. I hope it goes awesomely! And you know, if you needed it, I can jump on a plane anytime! 🙂

  6. Alright, well, glad to hear it! And glad 2012 is on the radar, I’ll look for you then!

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