Excavating Nostalgia

My colleague Scott Moore and I visited the site of our former excavations at Pyla-Vigla near Larnaca today. The trip up the rutted road from the Koutsopetria plain to the flat topped hill of Vigla is always familiar, nostalgic, and a bit strange. We spent a good bit of time driving that road and thinking (and writing) about the site.

Last year, we visited the site and I mused a bit about how our project, the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project, had an endgame under the direction of myself, David Pettegrew, and Scott Moore. This year, we visited our colleagues Brandon Olson and Tom Landvatter (as well Melanie Gadsey who worked with my at WARP for a half-a-decade). Unlike our tentative engagement with the site where we opened little “key hole” trenches designed more or less to ground truth our survey and some geophysical work, the PKAP 3.0 team (PKAP 1.0 was the survey and PKAP 2.0 was our excavation) has gone “whole frog” and opened up several large trenches designed to do more than prove that something happened there in antiquity. 

It was great to see the bustle of activity on this flat-topped coastal height with three teams of excavators working at three trenches. It was really exciting to be there as project directors and the trench supervisors moved between the trenches, excavators discussed the features in each trench, and all concerned strategizing about the moves. Excavators and supervisors showed off recent finds, flaunted their newly constructed sieves, and enjoyed some relaxed banter. Punk archaeology even made an appearance with the most punk sieve ever. (The ones that they built this year are much better, but far less punk):

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I left the site feeling pretty jealous of their work despite the dearth of shade, the hard work, and what I know will be a growing sense of urgency as the season progresses. The collegiality of working together on the site and thinking through problems of process and interpretation as they arise in the landscape was, to me, a unique experience. Whether we got our conclusions “right” while working on the fly or not (or at the speed of archaeology) always seemed less important to me than the chance to think in the landscape at the edge of the trench or in the survey unit. 

The visit to the site got me thinking about excavating first time since PKAP 2.0 concluded. Walking around the village of Polis, it’s impossible not to notice various open lots and to recognize that they would offer windows into the heart of the ancient city of Marion-Arsinoe. Of course, these lots are likely owned by people, serve various functions in the modern community, and are not simply waiting for archaeologists to fill them with ruins. My musings are not, of course, serious, in the sense that I have no intention of excavating, but a few hours with Brandon Olson and Tom Landvatter and their team made me at least entertain the fantasy!

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