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 and 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.
My skin is also going to be drier than the
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
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.
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.
Granted sometimes the facilities leave a little something to be desired.
But when all is said and done, it’s still worth it.