Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Archaeology is pain

Can you dig it?

It’s only the start of day four of the excavation and I’ve already sustained enough damage to take out a lesser mortal. But I’m awesome, so I continue to persevere.

The fact that I’ve been digging most summers for the past eight years makes me a seasoned veteran. Too bad I don’t seem capable of learning from my mistakes.

Mistake #1: Neglect to protect self from the sun
I’m sporting the world’s best farmer’s tan at the moment which is a pretty shade of deep pink and still hurts to touch. I also managed to burn my ears, my lower back (this is known as a typical archaeologist bum tan), my lips an
d even my eyes (even though I always wear sunglasses). I’m now slathering sun block on like there’s no tomorrow, wearing longer t-shirts to spare the skin on my back from additional exposure, applying Carmex to my lips and using eye drops about twice a day.

Mistake #2: Neglect to wear gloves.
I hate wearing gloves because my hands get all sweaty and I constantly have to take the gloves off to examine artefacts which just creates a muddy mess. But it would save me from blisters like this one on my left palm.

Another war wound

[Editor’s Note: I was going to use a regular British coin but realized Theresa and Chia would probably be the only ones to understand the scale, so I unearthed a US coin to help with the visual.]

My skin is also going to be drier than the Sahara before the dig is through. You may want to purchase stock in hand lotion now before I start buying in bulk.

Mistake #3: Neglect to hydrate throughout the day.
Yeah, this is a big one. I managed to go through Monday only drinking two cups of tea and a half liter of water at lunch. Not smart when I’m working under the blazing sun for seven plus hours. (Yes, there is sun in England and, on occasion, it actually works!) My spin class
later that evening was not a pleasant experience to say the least.

Mistake #4: Continue to age
Age really has nothing to do with it actually, it’s just basic conditioning. I actually prepped for this season by doing some strength training in the weeks leading up to it. However, it was never going to be enough. I spend most of the day going through this process: crouching or on my knees (insert crude joke here) to dig through the
dirt, then standing to shovel the loose dirt into a wheelbarrow, then pushing said wheelbarrow up the spoil pile and dumping its contents. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Mt. Lotsadirt is conquered once again

This constant wear-and-tear has resulted in a multi-system failure of my body. My knees hurt A LOT. The skin is now blotchy and the whole area is sensitive to the touch. My glutes are really sore and my hamstrings are tighter than the strings on a violin. It takes me ages to lower my tuckus down onto a chair during the breaks. I sometimes wonder why I even bother. Every other part of my body is also experiencing twinges and the like, but thankfully nowhere near the same level of discomfort. I still need a full body massage stat!

To add to my troubles I have a non-archaeology related injury. Thanks to an unfortunate chafing incident involving my underwear, I am currently forced to go ‘commando’ with copious amounts of Neosporin slathered on the either side of my nether region. It makes me walk around like I'm bow-legged.

Let me tell you, attractive isn’t even the word to describe what I look and feel like right now.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself why the hell I even bother with it all. Well, because I love it. Once I move past the pain (give me another week, fingers crossed), I focus on the fun—the great finds, the history of the site, teaching, collaborating, laughing, the scenery.

This is what I spend my valuable time digging up. It's definitely not the crown jewels, but admit it, you're jealous.

There is an Iron Age fort on this hilltop. (view from the top of Mt. Lotsadirt)

Granted sometimes the facilities leave a little something to be desired.

But when all is said and done, it’s still worth it.

Ciao tutti.


Non-Runner Nancy said...

HA HA HA - this totally reminds me of all the horror stories you hear from parents about no sleep, little monsters who paint mascara on the walls (oh wait, that was my story), all the gross bodily functions, etc etc, only to have them finish, BUT HAVING KIDS IS SO WORTH IT!! For many years I rolled my eyes and stayed far far away. hee hee Then you experience it and you finally get it. :D

I'm glad you love it and it's worth it. Otherwise it seems like it would suck. :D Happy digging.

chia said...

It sounds grueling but I can't help to be jealous of your work. You're like Indiana Jones yo :-)

I may understand the scale but can't help but giggle and go "TWENNIE PEE TWENNIE PEEE"

Marcy said...

LMAO it's so funny you bring this up! Last night I was "gardening" (I use that term loosely because I'm anything BUT a gardener) Pulling out weeds and shiz Seriously, crouching down and digging all that shiz (in your case treasures) out is hard work. And I was only doing a half a$sed job LOL I can ONLY imagine!

Viper said...

It should be easy to find the family jewels in that position, eh? Make sure to use lots of lotion. I mean for your sunburns.


Theresa said...

Poor baby!! Sunburn - ouch! And that blister - ouch!

But mention of nether region - agh, TMI!

I do admit, though, I am just a wee bit jealous of your job. :+)

Anonymous said...

You poor thing...wait a minute... your living my dream... Suffer, suffer!!!

Just kidding! Hope your nether region feels better soon ;) LOL

RazZDoodle said...

I would've inserted the joke with the blister on the palm. But, then, I have the maturity of a 12 year old

Vanilla said...

Pleased to hear that they got that whole sun thing fixed over there. When I was living there we knew it was summer because the rain was warmer.

McB said...

Oh my. Listen if you wanted to dig up rocks and stuff (with which I am sure I would be impressed if I had clue one what they were), you could have just come to my place. Lots of rocks and stuff. Then you would at least have had a bathroom handy.

P.O.M. said...

What's that song, "Can you dig it.." I always think of your blog! ha ha.

Yuo have such an interesting job!

The Laminator said...

I don't know whether to feel sorry for you or be jealous of you, but it sure looks fun...if I knew what you were digging up.

Oh, and thanks for the US coin you used for comparison...

Viv said...

Xenia that looks totally exciting except for that monster bli, chickie...ouch!

Frayed Laces said...

Wow...we totally have similar working environments. I swear, I'm sure if I wasn't a grad students I would have a lawsuit on my hands, but since grad students aren't *real* people...