So, 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
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.
Once 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, the 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.
Once 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.