Reading and Writing

As the fieldwork phase of the project begins to wrap up over the next week, we also begin the analytical phase of the project.  This involves some primary research — a trip to the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) Library — and some writing — namely a final report to submit to the Department of Antiquities and a paper that we deliver annually at the CAARI Archaeological Workshop. 

The advantage of writing before we leave the island is that we can make sure that we have the little details that often slip through the cracks between archaeological fieldwork and archaeological publication.  For example, we can re-check a measurement of a feature in the field or the identification of an artifact stored in the museum.  Moreover, the CAARI library presents a very good collection of material for research on Cyprus in one place.  Finally, the community of scholars who work on Cyprus is, by and large, close knit and supportive.  Beginning the analytical process while concluding fieldwork makes it easier to share our research with our colleagues here.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of beginning the analytical process while in the field is that it allows the team to debate various interpretations with the material close at hand.  Even the most sophisticated forms of electronic communications cannot replicate the ability to walk into the field and look at a disputed feature and bat about various interpretations.  Over the past week, for example, we have noted some rock cuttings that may well be post-prehistoric tombs.  These are the first rock cut tombs that the project has found despite the long stretches of exposed coastal ridges.  Elsewhere on the island (and throughout the Mediterranean) these coastal ridges were common sites for tombs in almost every period.  While we may never be able to definitively state that these rock cuttings are tombs, the ability to scrutinize the cuttings and examine their place in the larger environment (e.g. would they be visible from the sea? Would they lie along an ancient road? Would they have faced an area of known settlement?) will allow us to make a more compelling identification. 

The last days in the field and at the museum, then, become in some ways the most exciting and profitable.  More on our final discoveries and reports over the next few days…

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