What is it you do exactly?

I’ve been asked a question or two about the illustration process so I will try to fill in the picture a little.

Each day small objects are uncovered at the dig. Most commonly, these are pottery fragments (sherds) or pieces of stone vessels, but occasionally something small and intricate – a seal or bead – and rarely, something spectacular – like a stele. These come back to the dig house and are assessed by our registrar, to be kept or discarded. If it is decided that the object is significant, it is assigned a registration number and then follows a series of steps – cleaning, conservation, photography and – lastly – illustration.

deskIt’s pretty cool to have an assortment of treasures on one’s desk that date back more than two millennia! I examine them – by eye, magnifying glass, microscope – and decide how best to draw each one. I may show a number of views and include cross-sections too, assuring that I record notable features. The more complex the object, the more views. Detailed things like seals or coins are drawn at an enlarged size to capture the intricacies. Large, cumbersome things like column bases or stone basins are scaled down. Some of the drawings require consultation with one of our specialists to make certain that I highlight the features particular to that artifact.

Usually the registered objects will number in the hundreds; I will draw less than a third of them. If my own workload allows, I pitch in to assist with the thousands of pottery sherds that are recorded each season – these drawings are both simpler and more technical – but I can do from fifty to a hundred of them in a day, while I might complete five to ten object illustrations in the same period

Everything found here belongs here and will remain in Turkey. Ultimately, our finds will go to the museum at Gaziantep. At the end of the dig season, our government representative will choose from among our finds those objects he feels should go directly to their collection. The rest will be sealed and locked in our depot here at the Belidiye for future study. While I have access to past seasons objects here in the depot, there is always a last minute scramble to complete the drawings for the museum’s selection. In my first seasons here, I spent a number of days at the museum documenting objects that had been selected but not yet drawn; I’m caught up on those now.

I have a few choice items awaiting my attention currently, but each day I anticipate something unusual or particularly gorgeous. But then, everyone on site is hoping for the same. Who knows what today will bring? Meanwhile, click here for a link to some of the things I’ve drawn in past seasons.

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