Episode 6: Finding Fruit Crates


Episode 6 of Emerging Cypriot is now posted.  I have thought just a tiny bit about archaeology as bricolage lately.  Bricolage is the practice of building or making something in an ad hoc way with whatever material is readily available.  Punk rock is often seen as evoking bricolage in it’s tremendously provisional production (for more thoughts on that see: here, here, here, and here) and blogging often demonstrates some aspects of this technique.  Archaeological method and field procedures are often, by necessity, ad hoc.  The Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project often found itself forced to confront unexpected problems (you threw away all of our kitchen supplies and cooking equipment?), to address lack of a permanent headquarters, to accommodate the provisional status of much of our preliminary data collection, sorting, and and storage, and to fix glitches in our field procedures (as viewers of our first archaeological documentary, Survey on Cyprus, learned “fixing the glitch” was a common refrain on our project). 

We try each year to convey to our students the spirit and practical realities of the “read and react” atmosphere that is probably common on almost all archaeological projects.  To introduce them to “archaeological problem solving” we’ll typically ask their help to solve little problems.  This short chronicles our students efforts to secure two fruit crates for pottery sorting.  The stackable, industrial, plastic crates used for shipping fruit are a common feature on archaeological projects.  They are easy to acquire, stack neatly for storing pottery, and they are fairly rugged.  The only problem is that they tend to proliferate if unsupervised.  We began with around 20 of them, but each season, nature takes its course, and 5 or sometimes even 10 more appear.  Each crate is diligently labeled “catalogued pottery”, “uncatalogued”, “needs to be washed pottery”, “to be drawn”, “drawn”, or even the dreaded “problem units”.  

The students did a good job and learned a bit on the fruit crate adventure.  Next season we hope to be able to return of the crates to their proper home in the fruit market!

It begins with just two… well labeled and disciplined
A fruit crate gathering… at night… unsupervised
Order restored, but at what cost?

A few technical notes
The video is all in QuickTime which you will need to download to watch it.  If you right click and download the video, it is formatted for viewing on your iPod or even iPhone or iPod Touch.  When a new installment is made, the image will become a rollover image.  We’ll add a short a week.  I borrowed the idea for this format from a video series at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  The center square in the last row is a link to the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project web page where you can read more about everything that you see in these film shorts.

We have posted a particularly frank interview with the director of Emerging Cypriot and Survey on Cyprus, and you can read the commentaries on the first five shorts (with links to those shorts) below.



  1. Kostis Kourelis
    March 12, 2008 at 10:48 am

    That was so awesome: a conceptual performance piece.
    Archaeology and politics in a plastic nutshell.
    Scholars meets host country in the marketplace.
    An essay on the subtle intersections between methodology
    (sorting, rationalizing, collecting, displaying, washing, shriveling in the sun, molding in storage)
    and ideology (expectations, language, economic value, personal charisma).

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