Back in Larnaka

IMG_0072Well, since it has been a few days since I posted, a brief recap is on order. On Saturday, Bill and I packed up and moved our base of operations from Polis back to Larnaka. The change was pretty dramatic. The first thing I noticed was how much hotter it was in Larnaka than in Polis. The other obvious difference is how much busier Larnaka is at night, particularly since they are gearing up for the Kataklysmos which officially takes place on June 1st. In Larnaka, however, the activities start a week or so in advance and run a week or two past that date – plus it is the 100th celebration of Kataklsysmos put on by Larnaka. The plus of the celebration? Loukoumades every few feet. (For my devotion/obsession to Loukoumades see Loukoumade Success, or Oh the Humanity). Brandon and I went out last night and went to one of my favorit Loukoumade stands to enjoy an after dinner dessert. It was interesting, though – they were serving loukoumades that looked like mini doughnuts. Most loukoumades are small round balls, but these were flat and had a small hole in the center. Our bag of them had both the traditional (small round balls) and some of the flattened ones with holes in them. Both Brandon and I commented on how the ones with the holes did not taste as good as the traditional shaped ones – Brandon’s theory is that it incorporates too much air into the dining experience. I’ll blog about our work here at PKAP later, if the internet improves – it has been even slower than in Polis.

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Finishing Up at Polis

IMG_0063 - CopyI realized today that I have not posted anything in a few days. This is due to a few factors – less than reliable internet at the hotel and long days trying to finish up our work here at Polis. Anyway, not much to report. We finished looking at the pottery from the levels we had targeted from EF2 (Late roman Basilica).  The final result is that we analyzed about 5,000 pottery sherds. We even finished in time to clean up the apotheke and put everything back in place with time to spare. Usually, we are so pushed for time that we are frantically putting things up at the absolute moment. It was nice to be on schedule for a change and not have to worry about whether we were working fast enough.

IMG_0062 - CopyI also had the opportunity to try out Lays Mediterranean Herbs and Cheese chips. It looks like, based on the ingredient list and picture, that herbs equals parsley. They tasted a lot like the Greek Salad IMG_0071 - Copychips, but a bit saltier, I would have to give them a ***(3) out of 10. I also picked up a can of spicy ginger ale to go with them – I am a big fan of ginger ale and was looking forward to finding out what spicy ginger ale is. I was a bit disappointed in that evidently spicy does not mean what I expected. It tasted like regular ginger ale to me.

IMG_0066 - CopyLast night we took one of our colleagues to Limassol to catch the bus to the airport, which gave us the opportunity to visit the Syrian Friendship Club there. We usually visit the one in Nicosia, but were happy to seize the opportunity to visit this one. I was especially happy since I did not get the opportunity to visit this restaurant either of the last two years – a real failure on my part. The only trick is finding the restaurant. Limassol is a city that I do not visit often IMG_0069and even more rarely at night. Fortunately, a smart phone app helped us navigate right to the correct address. As usual, we ordered the meze and as usual it was fantastic. As you can see from the image above, it was a lot of food – and this isn’t even all – the meat course had not arrived yet. The dips were so good. I try very hard to recreate these back in Indiana, and even though my versions are good, they are never quite right. Even though this meal resulted in a one and half hour drive that got us back after midnight – it was well worth it. Now, maybe I need to visit the Nicosia location and compare the two, or is that overkill?

IMG_0064 - CopyRSM

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Summer Has Arrived

IMG_0055Today was another day at the apotheke going through boxes and looking at pottery. It was pretty clear this morning that today was going to be a much warmer day than the past week which has averaged highs around 72 degrees. Today’s high was 92 degrees, and the difference was felt as soon as we left the hotel. I did decide that I deserved a vanilla frosted doughnut for breakfast (the first of the season). Cyprus is famous for its vanilla frosted doughnuts, which are much better than the ones I can get in the United States. It was as good as I remembered. If the one on the tray looks lonely, it is because it is Bill’s and he waited a few minutes before eating his – me, I was in a bit more of a hurry.

There is not much to tell about today’s work. We did have one minor insect moment, when this really loud buzzing noise turned out to be a wasp that became curious about our pottery and had to be shooed (carefully) away. One of the more interesting things for me, was finding two pieces of pottery in a box that joined together. While this is a pretty common occurrence, I almost missed it because of the way the break occurred at a significant color change, so the pieces looked very different when viewed separately. A good reminder for me to always pay attention to what I am doing, something that is easy to forget as I look at piece after piece after piece….




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Start of Final Week at Polis

IMG_0050Today begins our final week of ceramic analysis in Polis, since we head to Larnaka on Saturday to work on PKAP material and do a little GPR. The goal for this week’s work is to continue reading the pottery from the area around the basilica (EF2) so that by the time we leave, all the Roman levels for this area have been analyzed and recorded, and that all the Hellenistic levels have been identified for analysis by Brandon next year. I am hoping that we finish this material up soon enough (maybe by Wednesday?) that we can take a little time to look at the ceramics from a another excavated area (EF1), which is a bit of a mystery as to what it was – perhaps a house? or an industrial area?

IMG_0054Today was a bit uneven, particularly this morning when we started. For some reason, both Bill and I were dragging this morning and not moving very fast. It was so bad that he went to the periptero and bought some drinks for us to help us wake up. He drank a Red Bull and I drank a Lipton Iced Tea. While I felt like I was a little more alert, the Red Bull had a more pronounced effect on Bill – even though he was claiming that he was only sipping it to make it last. [And before anyone emails me about this – Dimitri has already pointed out to me that this is a violation of PKAP policy since the official PKAP energy drink is Shark.] He would periodically shout out possible ceramics identifications while I was looking at the pottery. The problem is that his identifications had no relationship to reality, and often were not even real wares – like a hookly hook rim, or a zoot tubler. Needless to say it was an interesting day. It has been a very pleasant two weeks in Cyprus so far, the weather is mild and the flowers are blooming.


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Sunday – More Computer Work

So today was another day of computer work. I have to admit that I did more non-Polis computer work than notebook transcribing. I did do some, but in short periods. I tended to wander off to CNN and my email. In fact, after I started reading an article about yesterday’s Preakness, I soon found myself watching a YouTube video of Secretariat winning the 1973 Preakness, which led to watching him win the Belmont. It is amazing how easy it is to become distracted – at least it is for me. I also spent some time playing around with Zotero and working on organizing my Pottery reference materials.

salad chipsFor break time, I broke out a new flavor of potato chips – Lays Greek Salad Flavor. I made Bill try one, even though he was reluctant. The taste was different…..I wasn’t sure what I was expecting since we have a Greek salad every night with dinner. The picture on the bag shows tomatoes, lettuce, feta, and dill. They actually tasted (in a weird way) a little like barbecue sauce, which I assume is the tomato powder – which is the third ingredient in the Greek salad flavoring list, behind lactose powder and salt. So, I guess I would give them a ****(4) out of 10.


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Saturday at Work

P1020016Today was a quiet, but busy Saturday. The morning was spent transcribing field notebooks from past years’ excavations. The goal of the transcribing is to put the notebooks into a form that is more linearly organized, and that is easily searchable. In transcribing the notebook, you also have the opportunity to learn what was done in that trench in a more thorough manner than merely skimming through it. This also comes in handy if you need to create a Harris matrix for the trench. I really do not like doing these, mainly because I type fairly slowly with lots of mistakes – I don’t hunt and peck, but I am no Mavis Beacon. Meanwhile, Bill is pounding away on his keyboard so quickly it sounds like a woodpecker on speed.

After lunch Bill, Tina, and I wandered out to look at the site of EF2 to see if what we have been seeing in the pottery and reading about in the notebooks made sense. It was quite interesting to wander around and try to make sense out of the construction.

P1020018 2


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Pottery and More Pottery

P1010982So, since thousands of you have been emailing me to learn more about the high profile career of a ceramicist on Cyprus, allow me to give you a backstage tour of my day. First, we visit the Polis Museum to pick up the key and unlock the apotheke (storehouse) – which is the building where the pottery that needs to be analyzed and recorded is stored. The apotheke is pretty bare bones, its primary function is to store pottery. It does occasionally attract critters (lizards, mice, spiders) and the goal is to keep them out so they do not destroy any of the paper boxes or bags. (For examples of critters in the apotheke see “Short Break“).

Once we arrive, we have to turn on the lights, open a window, and turn off any critter P1010986
repellent gadgets. Then we set up our computers. This is actually an important step since I have some of my reference works that provide comparanda saved on my computer. This way, if I run across a piece of pottery I am uncertain about, I can open an article and compare the pottery in front of me with examples from other projects/sites. Plus, you never know when you might need to check your email, or the weather, or the sports scores- important things like that.

P1010989Once we are set up, we then pull pottery to look at. Typically we are looking at the pottery that comes from levels that are important to helping answer research questions. These levels need to be from secure contexts, if they are going to be helpful. So, this results in me going to look for something like EF2.G10.1997 Levels 14-20. EF2 is the site, G10 is the trench, 1997 is the year it was excavated, and 14-20  are the levels we want to examine. This leads me to wandering up and down the aisles looking for the correct tray. While the trays are in a sort of order, over time they have migrated a bit and sometimes this results in me spending some time trying to find trays that I know exist, but somehow aren’t where I expect them to be. Sometime it is my fault, as I have transposed letters or numbers and what I am looking for doesn’t really exist, or they are behind another tray – the picture only shows the front trays, P1010987the shelves are all 2 deep. Once I find the correct trays, then I move them to the area where we are set up for pottery analysis. This an be an adventure because when the trays are up on the top rows, I have to use the ladder (see photo to right). Those who know me are aware of my cat-like reflexes and ninja skills, but getting a heavy tray down from over your head balanced on a ladder can be a balancing adventure sometimes. So far, no problems.

P1010983Once the pottery is over in the analysis area, then my pottery assistant looks through the boxes, and if he or she is far enough along in their training, they preform a pre-sort of the pottery. Here, my newest pottery flunky or pottery helper (Dr. Bill Caraher) works on a pre-sort. As you can imagine, this position is a much-sought after one, similar to working with a famous chef. As a result, you often get mid-career individuals looking to change from their stalled career to the lucrative world of ancient ceramics. I’ll finish this up tomorrow.


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