Archaeology is Ancient History: A month in the Life of Junior Archaeologist

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By: Katherine Luyten, Platt Fellowship Recipient

I would like to thank the Platt Fellowship donors. With their generous contribution I was able to discern that archaeology is my passion in life. Not having traveled overseas before the dig, this experience not only gave me the opportunity to meet a range of highly skilled professionals but it also opened my eyes to the wider world and all the amazing people, food and experiences archaeology has to offer.

I was able to participate in the Kalavasos and Maroni Built Environments (KAMBE) Project in Cyprus this summer, under the direction of Dr. Kevin Fisher and Co-director Dr. Sturt Manning. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. After deciding who our cockroach exterminator was and coming to terms with the feral cats, rats and giant lizards, the dig was amazing. During the first few days we broke ground using picks and shovels to remove the topsoil from the site of Kalavasos Ayios Demetrios. It was more than I expected, and by the end we had extensive muscles, and didn’t care that we all had to cram into our rental cars, all sweaty for the five minute drive back to Kalavasos. At the site we worked with state of the art technology, such as, photogrammetry, 3D modeling, and Ground Penetrating Radar. We were able to render our site in 3D space, which was spectacular and along with using the standard context sheets we also digitally recorded new contexts and finds on our site tablets.

Katherine Luyten using the GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) at Kalavasos Ayios  Demetrios

Katherine Luyten using the GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) at Kalavasos Ayios Demetrios

It was remarkable that what we unearthed and excavated was built and used thousands of years ago during the Late Bronze Age. To think that as the sun was beating down on us we were finding evidence of a culture long since gone, yet their foot print on the earth is still very real. One of the biggest finds we uncovered was a cache of, what I estimate to be around 800 individual sling bullets. Sling bullets were a type of weapon made out of unfired clay, possibly used for hunting or war fare. They were strewn over a large area of Unit 7 (a monumental building), thus we believed that they were once in an organic bag that fell and then deteriorated. We also uncovered quite a few sherds of pottery. The most beautifully designed pottery is called white slip pottery and is mainly used for feasting purposes. Unfortunately as Murphy’s Law states, everything good to be found on an archaeological dig is found on the last day. On the last day we found huge pieces of possible slag, as well as huge pieces of ashlar blocks. So we are left with a cliff-hanger, until the team returns.

The people I was privileged to work with were fantastic. We sweated together, dug side by side, ate feasts together (drank a little), watched movies, swam in the Mediterranean, played darts, waited around, danced and sang, killed bugs and avoided others, and made strong friendships. This is an awesome aspect of field archaeology, you work as a team. I learned about dendrochronology, geomorphology, underwater archaeology, Cypriot ceramics, photogrammetry, 3D modeling, Ground Penetrating Radar, as well as the wide range of important archaeological techniques all from the amazing people that were involved in our dig. Cyprus is an incredible place with so much history; I learned a lot and am so grateful for our team as well as the lovely people who took care of us during our stay.

Katherine Luyten was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. She is currently in fourth year at the University of British Columbia and will be graduating with a Bachelors of Arts, Majoring in Archaeology and History of Greece, Rome and the Near East.


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