With our time in Turkey coming to an end, I am both excited to be back home again but also saddened by the prospect of leaving behind our work. Over these weeks I have learned a lot at Antiochia, and have gained a deeper appreciation for the finer details of Archaeology, from proper trowel techniques to identifying differences in soil types. I also learned just how tired one can be after spending the day digging in the hot Turkish sun. In the end though, our work payed off with one of the most memorable events of the season being my team finally identifying what exactly we were excavating, (it was a lime kiln), and putting quite a few days of speculation to an end.
Additionally, having completed my first foray into Archaeology I feel as if my perspective on history has shifted slightly as well, not only by getting first-hand experience in what is one of the only methods of seeking out the past where written sources don’t exist, but also in both hearing and participating in debates over the purposes, the time-frames, and the significance behind what we unearth. History is not necessarily set in stone, and it is perfectly possible that a conclusion we make today may be disproved by another excavation 10 years down the road. The fact that we may not be able to agree on some aspects of a site’s history right now only furthers this point.
Therefore, it is critical that during our excavations we try to gain as much context as is possible behind what we are finding so that our speculation is at least going in the right direction. And while collecting tiny sherds of pottery or making sure the locus is kept level may be tedious, it is detailed work like this that could help us more accurately identify and postulate over our sites. The fact that we only get one shot at this doesn’t help either, as once you have dug something up it can’t really go back in.
Finally, I would tell any potential archaeologists who would like to visit Antiochia next year that while the idea of living in Turkey for more than a month may seem slightly daunting, the atmosphere both at the site, at our dig house (dormitory), and in the city of Gazipasa is very welcoming. I greatly enjoyed my time here, and I even hope to return again soon.