Monday 13 August 2018

Greek Series: The Daily Commute

Despotiko, Yonder

Remember Despotiko? It seems so long ago now, and indeed the six weeks since the Lovely L and I finished our toil as volunteer archaeological labourers has flown by with barely a peep from these pages, so I thought a little Greek Series would be in order. In case you are utterly disinterested in how students and graduates of various international Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences Get To Work(albeit unpaid work), avert your gaze now.

First up in this Series is a typical Daily Commute to and fro the dig site. While the hours between spent scraping and shovelling and generally shifting dirt and rocks around is hardly worth sharing in a visual fashion, although thoroughly good fun and physically rewarding for those involved (I would proudly display my newly resurrected biceps, but I sensibly won't), I shall restrain my urge to produce a tedious Slide Show and limit today to the Journey itself. 

Oh, if you insist then ...

At around dawn, there is not an awful lot of life up and about in Greece. In Antiparos town we would only rub shoulders with fishermen in otherwise empty cafes, back on terra firma after a night at sea, bakers (thankfully!) laying out their fresh wares for the day, and some builders and labourers heading off to various projects about the traps. The drive across the island to the jetty each day was marked only by the progress of a local refreshing the whitewash on the coping of his perimeter stone fence, and a solitary lady power-walker, both trying to make best use of the coolest part of the day. As I am not naturally a morning person and a Holiday does not, by definition, include the regular witnessing of a Sunrise, it may be deduced that the following sight each day was worthy of recording:

An Uncommon View

The Sargos and her trusty sea mutt greeted us each morning at the jetty to take us the short hop across to the deserted island. She made two trips to ferry the day's few dozen diggers and marble masons. As ever the girly swots, we were first to arrive each morning, hefting our gear which included 3 litres of drinking water and 4.5 litres of unpotable tap water for washing pottery, each! Phew!

Muttley keeping charge
Such a soothing Commute

Disembark at the jetty then hike up the hill to the site through the ankle-high herby scrub, goat poo and centuries-old pottery sherds that are strewn about the place. Apart from the occasional Special Find amongst these miscellaneous scatterings, they are more or less ignored by the archaeologists as they cannot be properly placed and dated like the thousands of bits and pieces that we helped to scratch from the earth. So did we ignore these tempting morsels? I should say so. 

Although ... a visitor to the Pipistrello bathroom may sit upon the loo and wonder about the age of this curiously pocket-sized bit of, ahem, Rustic Pottery on the shelf:

Hmmm ... couldn't be circa 500 BCE, surely??

All I shall say is that this was the view as I did contemplate any such sneaky appropriation:

Humdeehum ...

Just admiring the view ...

The camp was a shipping container with a shade cloth for shelter and some old pallets for seating:

Faffing about before getting stuck in for the day
Everyone took a turn at washing pottery finds, (a quick scrub in a bucket of water with an old toothbrush), sorting the fine from coarse pottery, sun-drying and bagging it up ready for the museum staff on Paros to work their magic on the shrapnel. On the very windy and hottest days there was no shortage of volunteers for washing as you got to sit in the shade.

Otherwise, it was a full day of Earth Moving. After the first week, the Lovely L's and my first small team left this tidy room. It was thought to be a kitchen and was filled with potsherds and chicken and goat bone fragments. Every scrape was sorted for bits and so it took a full week of digging to bring the level down around 5cm. I'm to blame for the hole in the bottom left corner of our otherwise nice smooth finish, as there was a rather large pot squatting there ... but that's for Another Day!

The Good Room - heaps of stuff here!

The second week saw us with another team outside the main dig perimeter in Room Z, sandblasting ourselves in the wind as the Lovely L unearthed a large paved area and I moved more Rocks & Earth. In case you are wondering, the Greek word for wheelbarrow is karotsi ... 

Room Zeta - rock lover's paradise!

Pack the day with digging, scraping, sweeping & karotsi-ing, then tidy up the site and leg it back down to the jetty and throw your filthy body into the water before the boat comes to take your tired and bruised limbs back to Antiparos. Deal with wannabe dreadlocks in hair, eat, fall into bed at an unseemly early hour, sleep, repeat.

The tired march to the jetty - cradling a Special Find!

Karotzi filled with finds for the Paros Museum

Waiting for the second boat run

Federico the Dachshund still supervising at day's end


    I love to PICK UP PIECES!!!!!!I have a collection of pottery that my SONS found scuba diving in ITALY YEARS AGO!I was terrified for them.......but once they came back up with STUFF I was heard saying'GO BACK DOWN!!"
    This dog is PRICELESS!!!!!
    THANK YOU for a peek into your vacation???????????

  2. Thank you, Contessa, and lucky you! I've been to many sites in my time and have always been mindful not to souvenir and when I surreptitiously pocketed this bit on the last day and confessed later to LL, she laughed and pulled a bit out of her pocket, too! We both agree now that we should have collected more!! xx

  3. Well, hello Pipi! Why is it only now that I am discovering you have a blog of your own and what a blog it is too. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this blog post in particular for two reasons. Firstly, I spent many happy holidays in Greece and surrounding islands as a young girl and yearn to return to enjoy the wonderful scenery, hospitality, and lovely beaches and warm sea. Secondly, one of my earliest memories is being taken to an archeological site in Cyprus and finding it so fascinating that I wanted to become an archeologist when I grew up. Obviously, that did not happen but I'd enjoy joining in on a volunteer dig now that I'm an adult. I can get a bit obsessive over little details so this is the perfect way to spend a few hours.

    1. Well, hello CD! Yes, a digging "holiday" is a great pleasure for anyone with a mildly OCD temperament or a fastidious gardener, and throw in the Grecian aspect to make it near the ideal getaway.

      Thank you popping over to visit and for your kind words; I consider it a great compliment.


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