Home > Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project > You’re not going to dig?

You’re not going to dig?

As I put the final touches on my packing for my trip to Cyprus, I want to address a question that I have been asked numerous times over the past few weeks. What do you do over there if you’re not digging? And why aren’t you doing fieldwork this summer?

As for the first question, my project, the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, has never been a traditional excavation. In fact, the project started with no intention of digging at all. Our initial research methods and goals involved conducting an intensive pedestrian survey across the the Pyla coastal zone. Excavation served to ground truth various hypotheses developed by survey and remote sensing. So, we had never intended to excavate large areas or conduct a full-scale excavation of buildings. Instead, the goal was to establish chronology of subsurface remains, to try to determine their function, and to generate a stratified sample of artifacts to which we could compare our survey materials. So, in short, our excavations were limited in scope and, as a result, limited in duration.

Despite the limited nature of our excavations, they, nevertheless, produced a good bit of material that requires careful documentation. We will devote most of the 2010 season to documenting excavated material and preparing detailed catalog entries for important artifacts collected during excavation and survey. As we have begun to prepare our final analysis of the Pyla region for publication, we have identified artifacts, units, and contexts that require more thorough and comprehensive documentation. Over the next four weeks, we’ll spend time making sure that the key pieces of archaeological evidence are thoroughly analyzed so that they can support our arguments.

Fieldwork is the most fun part of archaeological work, but as the pioneering underwater archaeologist George Bass recently quipped, “my most exciting discoveries have all come in the library”. The same can be applied to the artifacts stored away in museum storerooms which when cleaned from the dirt of the field can often reveal crucial information overlooked during the bustle of excavation or survey. Our ceramicist’s careful attention to each artifact is a time consuming and tedious process, but the results of his work (and the entire teams efforts to facilitate his work by cleaning artifacts, dividing them into lots, keeping records, and cataloging) will allow us to reconstruct the history of the site in a way that digging another or even just a bigger hole would not enable us to do.   

So, off to Cyprus today, to spend four weeks or so in the museum storerooms helping our ceramicist go through our collected corpus of artifacts. As with every year, this blog will continue through the summer, although perhaps with a few short interruptions. Also be sure to check out our Undergraduate Perspectives Blog, the PKAP Season Staff Blog, and our long-running, Graduate Student Perspectives blog. Or check out the PKAP Blog aggregator for the most recent posts from all three.

  1. Nick Karatjas
    May 24, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Have a great and productive trip and time in Cyprus. Sorry I cannot be there this year.

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