A Career in Landscapes

We have about one more week of field work on the Western Argolid Regional Project. The project has been at full strength for the last three and a half weeks and the field teams have been remarkably efficient, averaging about .3 sq km per day.

I’m tired. My body aches, and fieldwork has increasingly become an exercise in pacing, energy management, and hydration as teams wrap up surveying difficult units or work on special documentation projects across our survey area.

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It dawned on me that this could be my final field season on a major project in my career. I’m in my mid-40s and by the time this project is published and my other projects are done, I’ll be pushing 50.

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Whatever type of fieldwork I do as a 50 year old won’t be the same – or probably even similar to what I’m doing now. Last week, I went on one more hike just to check if a web of goat tracks could have been a route between two areas of our survey zone.

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It was obviously a way, but clearly not a route (much less a path or road). These long walks were my archaeological calling card for years, particularly in the Eastern Corinthia, but after this week’s hike, I’m pretty sure my boots will be reserved for the more mundane and low impact tasks like keeping my socks clean.

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The biggest thing I’ll miss (other than, you know, finding stuff and the bizarre conversations one has while stomping through dense maquis in the Greek countryside) are the unexpected vistas that appear as one rounds craggy hills or looks back on ones path.

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They seem to scale endlessly across ever shifting foregrounds and backgrounds. Hills become ridges, ridges become plateaus, plateaus become fields. The landscape goes from olive trees and plough marks to fields and the countryside. Paths so obvious from maps or photographs disappear into vegetation.

I’m sad that I’ll likely never again hike around with the same sense purpose as I did last week and on-and-off over the previous 20 years.

2 Comments

  1. vincentoreilly June 28, 2016 at 6:54 am

    It is wonderful to be young when everything is new and adventurous but take a 78 year old’s word for it, there is also great satisfaction in being the old guy that young folks go to for answers. When you’ve seen it all before that is wisdom, even if the moments of learning something new are fewer. Your last walk was probably motivated by your students having found the track but they needed their impression reinforced (or not) by the experienced old leader of the herd. If the world seems more mundane it will always still glitter at times and getting older has its rewards. (Think of some of the young know-it-all profs that we all suffered through in school even when we suspected that they didn’t really know as much as they thought they did. They lacked personal experience, i.e. Wisdom with a capital W.)

    I’m glad that you look up from the trench to enjoy the view and to place yourself in the landscape years gone by.

    PS: For anything it’s worth, I just published a free Little (17 pg) fantasy on Kindle. It has nothing to do with Byzantium but the fairy protagonist is a Christlike figure. I’m not up to doing serious research these days but the writing is sort of in the style of the 19c Scotch author George MacDonald. It helps me to stay involved.

    https://www.amazon.com/Descended-Into-Hell-Paul-Kastenellos-ebook/dp/B01GXVV206#nav-subnav

    Reply

  2. Suicide gene. (No one is talking about physical suicide. Listen to this: https://mediterraneanworld.wordpress.com/2016/05/16/caraheard-podcast/ )

    Reply

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