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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Digging Under Dire Conditions

matts-squares-373x500Ah, archaeology. In many ways, this is becoming my avocation, and my son’s vocation. If we can survive the field work. It’s not always easy and that’s what many outdoorsy kinds of folks enjoy.

By now, we’ve seen it all, depending in which part of the world the excavations are held: snakes & scorpions, snakes & ticks, rain & mud, heat & dust, rocky & sandy, rocky & sandy & muddy, poison ivy & poisonous spiders. We won’t go into wild animals and wild people that archaeologists meet along the way and who could cause bodily harm.

Then there’s always lightning. Or hail. Or frozen tundra. Or heat waves.

“Only five more hours until lunch!” my son starts describing what he has in the cooler.

Of course I know what he has in the cooler because his father or I packed it, alongOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA with my own wilting salad of some sort. I don’t want to hear about his sub sandwich du jour, his cookies, nor his peanut butter crackers and apple. Now that he’s working long hours, he also might splurge on a frappuccino which makes my bottled water look spartan in comparison.

“Do you enjoy this?” I ask my son.

“Yeah, it’s okay,” he nods.

The physicality of it all is a bit much for me. I keep in mind that my talents may lie in researching sites, instead of digging sites….

thToday, we’re working near slave burials that will not be uncovered out of respect for the dead, however, as it starts to rain, I feel like part of the slave group, myself.   Scrape, scrape, scrape. Drip, drip, drip.

“Skim across the top, and shave it down. Use the flat side of your trowel,” a supervisor suggests. He takes my son’s trowel and kindly sharpens the edge with a large file.

We are skimming across the top of the exposed squares, where mummy-like outlines of graves rise with a yellowish-orange clay, standing out against the silty brown soil surrounding. I had tried to use my glove to dust off any dirt loosened by the original shoveling of the test excavation pits.

Wrong move. The whole square turned to beigey-brown. Back to scrape, scrape, scrape, and the outlines became clear thagain.

We had a good handful of highly-educated volunteers surrounding us. Many worked normal jobs, even well-placed jobs, and here we were, all laughing and scraping together. Just to give my knees and back a break, if you could call it that, I jumped in to carry multiple big buckets of dirt and sift them through the screen. At least I could do that while standing, even if my feet were pointing upward at a 45-degree angle on the mountain of soil that had already come through the screen.

Though we were digging in the woods, the rain picked up and everyone had to call it a day. The guys had uncovered a smallish snake when opening a new square, so it was okay for me if they wanted to stop for now.

We would be digging under dire conditions again, soon enough.

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