Sunday, July 5, 2015

Eleon in Comparison

Eleon in Comparison to Other Projects
Alix Causer-McBurney
This summer will be the last of my undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Arts Double Major in Anthropology and Greek and Roman Studies, with a focus in osteology, from the University of Victoria. These last three summers I have had some really amazing field work experiences. In 2013 I attended a Mortuary Archaeology Fieldschool in Drawsko, Poland. The site is most famous for its multiple vampire burials. In 2014 I worked for the Yukon Government’s Tourism and Culture Department in their Palaeontology Program through the Student Training Employment Program. The work involved visiting local placer gold mines in the Klondike Goldfields around Dawson City and collecting Ice Age fossils. This summer I am in Greece, working at the ancient site of Eleon for GRS 495 credit to complete my degree! Three absolutely fantastic summers, in three truly incredible places. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work and study in all of these places.

Many of the students, both in Poland and in Greece, had never attended a fieldschool before, or had only attended the one. In Poland I was one of those students; here in Greece I am one of few that have attended one, and a different one, before. I found it very interesting the differences and the similarities I experienced in Poland and Greece. The Yukon was also a bit different as I was the only student working for the Palaeontology Program.

17-18th Century cemetery, containing many graves with little grave goods, as well as multiple vampire burials.
Placer gold mines in the Klondike Goldfields, containing majority Pleistocene/Ice Age fossils.
Late Bronze Age through Classical Period city site of Ancient Eleon, containing building structures, ceramics, bone, and stone tools, among other things.
Hot and dry. Worked in light rain, but not heavy rain. Very few rain days. Some early starts to keep out of the hottest part of the day.
Hot and dry. Quite a few rain days, but did not hinder our work. Irregular hours, depending on what was needed.
Hot and more humid. Early starts to keep out of the hottest part of the day. Surprisingly many rain days for a Greek summer. Do not work in the rain or when the site is muddy.
Small village with few to no English speakers, encouraged us to learn the basics of Polish. Even in cities it was easier to get by with some Polish.
Not relating to living, but a definite language barrier when it came to communicating between academics and the miners – luckily I have a background in both!
Small town, but with more English speakers than Poland. Learnt some of the basics of Greek, but did not need to use as often, particularly in cities.
All new people involved in the excavation, apart from staff. Many academic visitors to site, but few locals.
I was the only student, and the youngest person on the small staff. Many academic visitors, often helping with their research.
A mix of new and returning students, along with past students, and quite a large staff. Also quite a few academic visitors as well as locals.
Four week long fieldschool. Focus was on mortuary archaeology and osteology, with almost daily lectures on different aspects, as well as guest lectures from visitors. Field notebooks required with daily entries and drawings, weekly tests, and of course participation.
Summer long Work Experience position. Focus was on identifying Ice Age mammal fossils, as well as interaction with the miners as well as the public. Kept a field notebook, as well as took photos and kept a photo log. Also, posted social media updates for the team.
Six week long fieldschool. Focus on archaeology and Bronze Age pottery, with a few lectures on ceramics, conservation, faunal analysis, and drawing. Field notebooks required, a blog entry, a trench tour, an exam at the end, and lots of participation.
Work Monday to Friday, morning-afternoon in the field or lab, with a lecture in the evening. Break in the later afternoon which involved writing in field notebooks, swimming, games and drinks. Dinner together then out for drinks and games until quite late at night. Weekends away travelling in groups to different places, trains main mode of transportation.
Irregular work hours, usually on ten day rotations with four days off, work morning-afternoon and sometimes later into the evening. Lots of driving required, often in 4x4 on poorly maintained roads to operating placer gold mines. Lots of walking while at the mines. Happy hour drinks with the team after work and sometimes dinner and evenings out in town, especially when we had visiting scientists.
Work Monday to Saturday, early morning to early afternoon in the field. Break in the afternoon, in which many people napped, others swam, played games, had a cold beer, and wrote in field or trench notebooks. Late afternoon pottery washing, lectures, pottery and faunal analysis (Except on Saturdays). Dinner together and then early nights for most. Long weekend halfway through dig season when groups travelled to different places, usually in cars or the van.


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