Working in Turkey this summer was an amazing experience. I learned a lot, both academically and socially. Regarding archaeology itself, I learned how to be very careful, keeping an eye out for any little thing which could be something. It’s very easy to miss items, especially if they’re small, if you’re moving too fast and not paying attention, but those things are important. I also learned not to sit while digging. When sitting, it’s very easy to simply dig in a circle around yourself, leaving a pitchers mound in the middle. Also, equally if not more importantly, you never know what’s living where you’re digging and it’s best to minimize the changes of a creepy-crawly with eight legs or a stinger getting into your pants.
The most exciting, memorable thing from the dig is two-fold, though connected. I had the misfortune of having a rock fall from an ancient wall right onto my foot. Because of this, I was unable to walk to the top of the acropolis for a few days. Instead, I went to the small bath and helped uncover the skeleton. Getting to be there when the skull was found, when his face was uncovered and when Sara and Tim worked meticulously to uncover all his bones was amazing. I got to see him before he was moved, with some of his joints still articulated, his spine clearly visible, and his hand laid out so we could see how big it was. We literally peeled back the rocks from his head, unveiling him for the first time in a thousand years. It was incredible. Then the other most memorable thing happened when I got back to the acropolis the next Monday. Our pit was almost unrecognizable. They must have dug another few feet at least while I was away. While watching the pit slowly go down each day is awesome, there’s something extra special about being away for a few days only to come back the get the few realization of just how much work was done.
Another thing I realized while on this trip was regarding the West’s (specifically American’s) views on this part of the world. When I tell people I was in Turkey for a month, they will somethings get this look of concern on their face and ask me questions about whether I felt safe, felt pressured to cover up/wear a scarf etc. The view many American’s have, exemplified in this interactions, is so far from the truth. I felt perfectly safe the whole time. I never felt any pressure to change the way I dress. In fact, I saw many Turkish women who were dressed just like I was. As far as I can tell, in Turkey, wearing a hijab is a matter of personal preference. You can wear one and that’s great, you can also not wear one and that’s also great. As long as you are doing what is spiritually right for you. Additionally, the Turks are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. I speak next to no Turkish and often the people in town would speak next to no English, and yet everyone went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and welcomed. These aren’t the most wealthy people in the world, yet they are more then willing to share what they’ve got with you. Coming back to America is kind of jarring after that, because people don’t want to help you or interact, which I think says a lot about us.
For anyone considering coming next year, make sure you bring enough clothing for a week, both dig clothes and day clothes. You will want to shower and change your clothes after every trip into town because you will get sweaty and gross. Also, when the washer is open, use it! If you don’t bring your clothes to Konrad, it can be a challenge to get to the washer when it’s available.