We’ve only been here five days, but we’re settling in to the dig rhythm. The usual early mornings, busy days, coffee breaks and hearty food, winding up with beer and conversation under the pines in the evenings. It’s Saturday, and the usual village wedding is under way with the usual incessant drumming and exuberant gunfire. Every year has it’s own variations but there is a comforting level of familiarity that binds us into a community.
I’ve been coming here since 2008, although not consecutively; this will be my sixth season. In that time, we’ve occupied the same quarters with some additions here and there. The village has hardly changed in the two years since our last season with the exception of a group of low rise apartment towers overlooking the new highway overpass.
So just what is a usual day on the dig? I have a somewhat limited view from the ‘specialist’s’ perspective – I’ve only spent one day in that six years actually digging – but let’s have a look.
4:30 am – Not long after the first call to prayer of the day is broadcast from the neighbouring minaret, we’re beginning to stir from our bunks in the women’s dorm. First breakfast is laid out in the dining hall directly below us – simple, but fresh fare: sliced tomato and cucumber, feta cheese, olives, yogurt, bread, jam and tea (çay.)
5:15 am – The van departs for the dig site down the hill from the village. The sun will be up by the time the workers are organized and under way. Here in the village, the ‘house staff’ will be sitting down to our desks, organizing and studying the finds, cataloguing, conserving and drawing.
8:00 am – Our village cook Şukriya arrives and begins preparing. My office opens into the dining hall and the rest of the day is filled with tantalizing smells. The bakery just outside the walls enhances this effect.
9:00 am – Time for second breakfast, a repeat of first breakfast with the addition of hard boiled eggs and fruit, usually watermelon. Food has been packaged up and jugs of tea and coffee loaded into the van and sent out to the dig site for their break. We here at the house will load our plates in the dining hall and sit out at tables in the courtyard.
After breakfast to 1:00 pm – Morning work session. Those down at the dig will be excavating in the hot sun while the temperature climbs, removing dirt centimetre by centimetre. The pottery sherds, worked stones, bone fragments and miscellaneous objects uncovered will be labeled and collected to bring back to the offices for washing and further study. Meanwhile, we at the house will drink endless cups of Italian coffee and sit under the trees discussing the state of the world…no, no, I mean, we’ll be working hard at our desks. Every minute. No coffee…what was I thinking?? Well, just one little coffee. And a brief discussion. Then work, work, work!
1:00 pm – Everyone is back from the site, hot, dusty and often exhausted. Quick showers and then we gather for lunch, which always includes a delicious soup along with various vegetable dishes and rice or bulgur or pasta or potatoes (why always two starches?) yogurt and fresh local fruit: watermelon, cherries, peaches, apricots, pears, figs, cantaloupe or honeydew melon. Or watermelon.
Lunch to 4:00pm – free time. Or nap time. Italian coffee time. Turkish coffee time. Hanging out and discussing the state of the world time. Load up on Turkish junk food time.
4:00 to 6:30 – Afternoon work time. My office fills up as the square supervisors take to their desks. This is when I learn what’s going on out at the site: a fly on the wall while they puzzle out the days’ finds and discuss the mornings’ issues.
7:00 Supper. Soup, accompanied by a reworking of the vegetables and starches from lunch along with a meat stew, delicious. And watermelon.
After supper – we linger at the tables in the courtyard or slip around the corner to the pottery sorting area to escape the wind, supplementing our meal with a run to the shops in the square for beer, ice cream, tasty Turkish junk foods. Darkness falls as we discuss the state of the world. Eventually we scatter to our beds. 4:30 comes early.