Guest Post by Felicia De Pena
The first time I laid my eyes on Kharaneh IV my heart fluttered and tears welled in the corners of my eyes- six months I had spent reading about the site and none of the research or photos do it justice. Millions of lithics lay sprawled on the ground glittering in the desert sun nearly untouched for thousands of years just waiting for archaeologists to clean and categorize them. Josh and I walked around site in awe, gingerly picking up artifacts and taking in the environment we would soon be working in.
Mornings start early in Azraq as we tried to be on site by sunrise. First breakfast is normally chomped down quietly with a cup of instant coffee or tea and the Pajero was swiftly packed with all the tools and supplies for the day. Arriving on site in the morning was pleasant, the sun rose over the hills and the castle sat, almost majestically, off in the distance. We began our day’s work, which often included plenty of heavy lifting, some spoons, sunshades, and ubiquitous paperwork! A refreshing break at nine prepared us for the inevitable heat of the day. After returning from fieldwork, lunch awaited followed by a respite before lab. Our early evenings were often filled with lithics sorting, more paperwork, 4mm sorting, or other organizational tasks needed to keep the team running
smoothly. At first the lithics sorting was puzzling to me but after a week of working with some amazing lithic analysts the pieces fell into place and sorting the assemblage became easier and dare I say fun! Our time in the lab, although a serious job, never felt too much like work. Giggle attacks, sing-a-longs, and light-hearted sarcasm made lab time fly by and before long our trays were whisked away to be replaced with dinner dishes.
Our home in Azraq was comfortable and the community most hospitable. Daily walks to the corner shops and visits from our neighbors were certainly pleasant parts of our days. Perhaps not nearly as pleasant as the amazing food Ismael prepared for us daily. Our downtime was often spent sitting under the olive tree chatting, reading, or drinking tea. I could not imagine a better team to have spent my summer with. At one point we decided to run an experiment on flint blades and the use-wear hair cutting left on them. We got Theresa to knap some lovely blades while Colleen and I discussed the plan of attack. I lost two inches of hair that day and Colleen lost a little skin off her thumb, but all in the name of science!
My experience in Azraq is incomparable to any other- the site, team, and artifacts will remain at the top of my personal list of best excavations. I am excited at the prospect of returning next year with even more knowledge and experience under by belt, as I will continue studying with Dr. Maher throughout the year.
Felicia De Pena