This internship has taught me the extent of the importance of firsthand accounts. When we uncover objects and features almost two thousand years old, the accuracy of future objective publications on the ancient city Antiochia are very dependent on our ability to write thoroughly about what we, the primary source, see. One may think a couple thousand years in the dirt is no place for ancient artifacts and structures worth studying but in a sense it’s the best place for them. They are kept in the same place, and safe from the elements, natural and unnatural. When an artifact is unearthed, the archaeologist must observe carefully where the object or artifact was found, this is essential for dating a feature, and understanding the history of the area excavated. In the case of a new feature, it must be drawn and properly documented, as it could very well be not be standing soon for a number of reasons. There’s no second chance with this process, the quality of the work of an archaeologist in excavating is of great importance. This is not unlike the work of investigators at a crime scene.
I’ve also learned how difficult it is to communicate with a group without ready and quality internet. With the popularity of apps like Messenger and Whatsapp, we neglect to swap numbers. When people are out and about, without cellular data plans, or the internet at the dig house is having a rough time, getting a message across, or keeping up to date with plans can be frustrating.
My most memorable experience on the research project was finding a small, fine glass object deep in my section. It was dark, probably burnt, and I had no way of telling exactly what it was, the bottom of a chandelier, or the top of a vial possibly. The realization that I was the first person to uncover something so discernable, unique, that could play a crucial role in dating a feature, and understanding the acropolis, made me feel very important.
My experience in Turkey was valuable for my personal growth and understanding of the world. I have millions of sources at my fingertips on Turkey’s history, culture, geopolitical situation, etc. almost anytime, however they don’t give the country the kind of justice that a prolonged stay can give. Here I saw a very peculiar blend of clothing styles: trendy dresses, sails boy caps, very baggy traditional pants, (the kind I’d expect to see in 19th century orientalist art) hijabs, slim fit jeans, and sweatpants, all in one small city. I saw goat pastures and olive farms in between modern hotels and restaurants. I’ve talked to a Turkish banana and avocado plantation owner in his cafe about the Syrian war in German (my distant third language), the only language the two of us could communicate in beyond a couple of phrases.
Some advice to incoming interns: If you’re a health nut, like me, and feel like you’re lacking that one vitamin or type of vegetable fat at the dig house meals, or are hungry in general, I recommend getting nuts, peanut butter, dried and fresh fruits, protein cookies, etc. at the convenience stores all around Gazipasa, it’s affordable. Kebab joints all around town are another affordable option if you’re especially hungry.