PKAP Season in Review

As promised yesterday, this week will features (gasp!) a guest blogger, Dr. David Pettegrew.  David is the co-director of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project and over the next three days he will report on the various work conducted by the project this season.  David will be visiting us here in Grand Forks in October as the annual Cyprus Research Fund Lecture Speaker.

Perhaps the greatest misimpression about archaeology today is that it mainly consists in digging holes in the ground.  Excavation is the perhaps the most glorious and maybe even the most exciting, component of archaeological work (although some people find the analysis of the results of survey and excavation the most exciting. – Bill), but it’s still only a tiny part of the pie.  As you may have gathered from this blog, our own work rarely involves traditional excavation.  In the field, we’ve devoted lots of time to pedestrian survey, geophysical prospection, aerial photography, illustrating, and recording notes—and lots of time to processing all those artifacts, i.e., washing, analyzing, cataloguing, photographing.  Beyond the field season, we spend most of our time processing data, reading, writing, and publishing their finds, and preparing for the next field season.  Students who join us every summer in Cyprus for 3-4 weeks may forget that most of our work goes on for months after Cyprus.  And the work is harder, not easier.

This morning we mailed a copy of our 2010 final report to the Cyprus Department of Antiquities.  If the press release posted yesterday represents a kind of quick and dirty abstract of our work in the Pyla area, the annual final report provides in excruciating detail a full outline of our work.  Anyone who does archaeological work has got to produce these things, and they’re not fun to write.  This year’s report with contributions by Scott, Bill, David, and Sarah Lepinski, was about typical in numbering 77 single-spaced pages.  They have been longer (100 pages) but they’re rarely shorter.  Why so long?  What we do is complicated and has to be explained in enough detail that it makes sense to anyone reading the report in the future.  We tend to provide more detail in our reports than we need for our articles which does make it easier at a later point to create papers about our work.

As we’ve discussed here and here, the point of our 2010 field season was completing the analysis of artifacts from our 2008-2009 excavations of the sites of Koutsopetria and Vigla.  We also anticipated being able to conduct additional fieldwork at these sites.  As it turned out, for reasons we’ve explained elsewhere, we were unable to excavate and we received permission only at the 11th hour for our other fieldwork activities.

Even still, as we outlined in our final report, we’re not disappointed and did manage to accomplish the following tasks:

1. We finished a preliminary “read” of all the artifacts collected during intensive survey (2003-2007) and excavation (2008-2009), cataloguing in greater detail about 300 finds from survey and excavation.

2. We finished documenting and illustrating the area excavated by Maria Hadjicosti. We have posted about that here and here.

3. We took low-altitude blimp photographs of the excavated area and the landscape. We have already posted the results of that—including the disastrous flight of …. — here and here.

4. We continued documenting subsurface remains using ground penetrating radar.

5. We conducted limited resurvey of ridges to the west of Koutsopetria.

6. We conducted experiments designed to calibrate the results of the intensive survey in the study area.

Such activities lack the dazzle of opening another excavation unit (as exciting as that can be) but, we would argue, prove more important in the long run for our understanding of the site and create a solid foundation for the final publication of our fieldwork now in preparation.

In the next few days we will be providing some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the kinds of post-processing work that we have been doing in the month since our field season ended.  Since we have already written about #s 2-3 elsewhere, we will focus our comments on #s 1, and 4-6.  Enjoy.

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