Archaeology of Archaeology

I’m slowly working through my pile of articles that I need to read, and yesterday read William Carruthers’ “Credibility, civility, and the archaeological dig house in mid-1950’s Egypt” in the Journal of Social Archaeology 19(2) 255–276. The article is really great. 

Carruthers studied the social and political context for the the construction and outfitting of the dig house built by the University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania at the site of Mit Rahina in Egypt. The initial efforts to arrange for the dig house were led by John Dimick, a businessman whose wife’s donations led him to become nominal director of the project. Dimick’s impolitic, impolite, and explicitly colonialist attitude toward the project’s Egyptian collaborators jeopardized the construction of the house. Carruthers unpacks the backdrop of 1950s Egypt, the rise of Nasser and a growing sense of political and cultural confidence that defined elite Egyptian society and the newly autonomous Department of Antiquities. The project was only salvaged when the more experienced archaeologist, Rudolf Anthes, who was the research lead on the project, interceded and managed to smooth over hurt feelings and coordinate the construction of the dig house for the Penn team. The intention of the Mit Rahina team to train the Egyptian archaeologists in scientific practices only added to the complex backdrop of the dig house’s construction. 

Carruthers recognized that the dig house was a liminal space between the authority of the host country and the values and practical needs of foreign project. As someone who has worked at a number of project with their own dig house, this space is a familiar one. In fact, this summer, there was a good bit of talk about upgrading the simple dig house of the Princeton Cyprus Expedition in Polis with new mattresses, screens, and maybe even wifi. In Corinth, the iconic Hill House of the American School of Classical Studies, secure behind its imposing stone wall, has long embodied and belied certain aspects of the relationship between Corinth Excavations and the village. The dig house of the Ohio State Excavations at Isthmia is a model of functionality with storage and work spaces. My formative years as an archaeologist occurred against a backdrop of constant maintenance to the buildings overseen by the late, memorable, and endlessly creative “Yannis the Workman” (and son). In all these cases, dig houses reflected spaces of negotiated expectations, expertise, and culture. Carruthers’ article offers a more historically sophisticated and refined take on the space of the dig house as one of the key spaces of negotiation for archaeology especially in a post-colonial context.

(As a curious and historical aside, the story of the “first dig house” in Polis on Cyprus is quite sordid. From J.A. R. Munro and H. A. Tubbs. “Excavations in Cyprus, 1889. Second Season’s Work. Polis tes Chrysochou-Limniti.JHS 11 (1890): 1–99: “A half-empty house in the village of Poli, into which we effected a forcible entry in the owner’s absence, inducing the inhabitants of the courtyard sheds by bribery or eviction to seek quarters elsewhere, furnished lodging and storage room; and within two days we were settled there with all our belongings.”

One thing that piqued my interest in particular was the material culture of dig houses. While Carruthers’ article does not delve into the material culture of the Mit Rahina except in the broadest possible way. I’d be interested in understanding how dig houses changed over time from both a historical and archaeological perspective. Morgan and Eddisford offer an opening into this kind of research in their 2015 article in the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology: “Dig Houses, Dwelling, and Knowledge Production in Archaeology.” 

Over the past few years, I’ve thought about the various buildings around the site and village at Polis that have formed part of Princeton’s archaeological infrastructure. One particularly ramshackle building, called the “Sheep Shed,” stands atop part of an Early Christian basilica and was used in various capacities from storage and work rooms to make-shift bunks for volunteers. The building has been stripped of its doors and windows and is in pretty poor condition, but I suspect that it preserves enough of its past lives to tell some of the story of the excavations at Polis. Whether this story would be different from the established narratives about Polis is hard to know, but the opportunity to document this building and trace signs of its various uses is tempting. The work of Carruthers and Morgan and Eddisford gives me a context for just this kind of research. 

Plague and the End of Antiquity

This weekend, I read Kyle Harper’s new-ish book on plague, climate change, and the end of the Roman Empire: The Fate of Rome: Climate, Disease and the End of an Empire (Princeton 2017). I have to admit that I was skeptical before I read the book. The idea that plague contributed to the end of the Roman Empire isn’t particularly novel and the plagues of the 2nd and 3rd century have sometimes been clumsily associated with the rise of Christianity. Our growing understanding of ancient diseases and the physical condition of individuals and communities in Late Antiquity clearly has something to offer the historian, but linking the patchy evidence to Mediterranean wide geopolitics always seemed like a stretch. Finally, as readers of this blog probably discern, I’m intrigued by the recent “environmental turn” in Mediterranean archaeology, but also have lingering concerns that our interest in the ancient and modern climate has pushed us toward a new kind of environmental determinism

Despite this skepticism, Harper’s book was really good and compelling. First, this book is far from a single cause argument (as one might expect it would be considering Harper’s other work and reputation). The plague is set against a careful reading of climate change over the course of the first millennium and the political, economic, and demographic developments of the Roman world. Second, the plagues unleashed in the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th centuries were not simply more virulent versions of illnesses that had long existed in the human population, but new diseases – small pox and bubonic plague – whose impact on the Roman world depended upon both the political organization of the connected Mediterranean and the emergence of a more variable and challenging late Holocene climate regime. Finally, the book is really well written and, in turn, evocative and clearly argued, descriptive and analytical, illuminated by literary sources and grounded in archaeological evidence. 

I do wonder, though, whether framing the book as a conflict between humans and nature creates a view of the world that seems to challenge the books basic argument that the rise of the Roman mega-state was partly the result of the auspicious middle Holocene climate. It seems to me a more compelling way to discuss humans, climate, their environment, and the microbial world of bacteria and viruses that shaped the human experience in the ancient Mediterranean would be as deeply enmeshed and entangled. In fact, the helplessness articulated by so many ancient authors when faced with draught, plague, floods, and cold, speaks less to a view of existence as a battle with the forces of nature and more to an understanding of humans and nature as parallel manifestations the same cosmic and divine forces. The changes to the environment, the appearance of plagues, and unpredictable and unexpected weather formed part of the same universe that preserved the Roman Empire, the structured religion and belief, and that defined the physical health of individual bodies. For example, the end of the world was seen as the world growing old and drying out – quite literally with the arrival of droughts in some places – and it had a clear parallel in the view of old age that saw it as the drying out of the body.

That being said, the view of the human world as separate and in conflict with nature gave the book its tragic arc. Harper makes no attempt to hide his view that the Roman Empire was more than simply an administrative unit, but the fundamental framework for life in the first century Mediterranean. As a result, the collapse of the Roman state – particularly in the western Mediterranean, but ultimately in the east as well – marked more than just a political disruption, but a fundamental social and cultural one as well. The experience of individuals, then, paralleled the larger political narrative. This is compelling when the book documents the personal and community trauma associated with the plague.

It’s less compelling, though, in dealing with ragged edges of how communities experienced the Roman Mediterranean. For example, it’s become increasingly apparent that in the Eastern Mediterranean communities continued to enjoy connections that defied changing political boundaries. In other words, social and economic bonds persisted for centuries in some cases after the political life of the Roman Empire collapsed. It would appear, in these cases, that the Roman state – with its political, military, and economic challenges brought on by changes in the climate and plague – was more fragile than the centuries old social, religious, and cultural bonds between communities around the Mediterranean littoral. The persistence of these bonds played a key role in understanding the end of antiquity as a transformation rather than a decline or fall. 

This critique is, in the end, fairly minor and probably can be categorized as “I’d write a different book,” and shouldn’t detract from the larger value of this book. Works like this demonstrate the incredible potential of the environmental turn for revising even the most traditional narratives in our field. 

More Late Antiquity (or at least a start)

For the last week or so, I’ve been trying to get back into the academic groove and thinking about Late Antiquity. I have done some reading and, more importantly, some writing about the 7th century both in Greece and on Cyprus. Mostly, I’m working to get a first draft of a paper documenting and analyzing a 7th century site in the Western Argolid.

Here is the first draft of the first couple paragraphs. It’s rough, lacks citations, and I’m sure it’ll change, but at least it’s going somewhere.

The past two decades have witnessed a major change in how archaeologists understand the Late Roman and Early Medieval landscape of Greece. The rise of survey archaeology in the late-20th century fueled the growing awareness of the “busy countryside” of Late Antiquity. This complemented work in urban areas across Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean more broadly demonstrating that Late Roman cities and their countrysides experienced continued prosperity, social vitality, and political and economic significance into the 5th and 6th centuries. For Greece, scholars argued that the Slavic invasions of the late-6th century brought an end to this Late Antique prosperity and initiated a period of economic, political, and social dislocation often called the “Dark Ages.” Over the last 20 years, work at urban and rural sites has started to question this narrative. Work at the site of Corinth, in particular, has shown that the city continued to prosper into the 7th century. Moreover, imported ceramics and storage vessels indicate that Corinth enjoyed persistent connections across the Mediterranean even if these connections appear to be less dynamic and consistent then earlier centuries. At the same time, regional networks in the northeastern Peloponnesus emerged that supplied cooking and utility wares to communities well into the final third of the 7th century. The results from Corinth suggest that the city experienced economic change in the 7th century with fewer imports and a rise in regionally produced vessels, but this change was not the same as decline and indicated continuity with earlier centuries as much as new patters of economic and social relations.

Stratigraphic excavations formed the basis for this revised assessment of the 7th century in Greece. The assemblages produced through excavations at Corinth and at the Pyrgouthi Tower near Berbati in the Argolid, in particular, have helped to revise the dates of earlier excavation across Greece and challenged the assumption that destruction deposits associated with the Slavic invasions should have 6th century dates. Deposits from the Baths at Argos and the Stadium at Nemea, for example, now are better dated to the 7th century than to the later 6th century as their original excavators suggested. This revised chronology has also extended to our analysis of intensive survey assemblages. For example, pushing the date of certain well-know finewares into the late-6th and early-7th century Phocaean Ware 10C and the later forms of African Red Slip (105 and 106) illuminates areas of possible 7th century activity in the Eastern Korinthia Archaeological Survey area (Pettegrew 2007, 777; Caraher 2014, 157-158). In other contexts, Chris Cloke’s study of the off-site material from the Nemea Valley Archaeological Project has revealed a 7th century landscape with remarkable continuity with material from the 5th and 6th centuries. This article takes Cloke’s assessment of 7th-century landscape of the Nemea Valley and work at Corinth and considers it in the context of recent work in the Western Argolid Regional Project (WARP).

Doing Late Antiquity

One of the funny things about expertise is that if you don’t practice being an expert on something, you begin not to be. Over the past few years, my interests have changed and my level of expertise has declined in general. I tend to see this as a good thing. My interest in the world is democratizing, but at times, I have nostalgia for the times when I knew enough to confidently critique a colleague’s argument or offer a nuanced understanding of a complicated problem.

Over the last few months, I’ve been quietly reading on Late Antiquity. I’m not arrogant enough to suggest that I am becoming an expert again, but it’s been fun to visit the Late Antique world, to write about, and to think about it again.

I’m just about finished reading Georgios Deligiannakis, The Dodecanese and East Aegean islands in late Antiquity, AD 300-700 (2016) in part because I’m preparing for a conference this fall on island archaeology and Byzantium and partly because I’m working on an article on the Western Argolid in the 7th century. Deligiannakis book includes both a useful gazetteer and a synthetic analysis of Late Antiquity in the Dodecanese with special attention to Rhodes and Kos.

The book is filled with useful observations and I’ll mention just two. First, he notes that the proliferation of churches on Rhodes where there are around 80 Early Christian basilica likely reflects changing practices in euergetism in the Christian community. Citing the work of Rudolf Haensch and Peter Baumann as well as the modest epigraphic record from churches in the Dodecanese,  he argues that Christian theology motivated more modest donors to churches and this expanded the resources available to both Christian communities and the emerging ecclesiastical elite. This is compelling to me. In fact, I made a similar argument – very quietly and without any confidence – in my dissertation

Deligiannakis pays particular attention to the 7th century. This is not only useful because I’m working on a paper on the 7th century (and have been a bit obsessed with it), but also because Deligiannakis goes to some length to demonstrate the issues with using coins to date deposits in the 6th and 7th centuries. On Cyprus, the tendency to date buildings and deposits by coins – rather than ceramics – has served to align archaeological evidence too neatly with literary sources, particularly on the impact of the Arab raids. This overlooks complicated issues like the supply of coins and their survival rates. On a larger scale, this practice tends to drag the dates for ceramics and sites (and destruction layers) earlier than the ceramics alone might suggest and to cluster diverse and diffuse events into periods well-represented numismatically. Thus, the reigns of Heraclius and Constans II tend to be overrepresented in archaeological narratives. Some of the buildings, deposits, and destruction (and construction) levels dated to the reigns of these two emperor should probably be dated later.

Now, off to actually write about Late Antiquity. I might not be an expert any more, but I’ve certainly forgotten enough to find it fascinating. 

Formation Processes and Peter of Argos

This summer, Dimitri Nakassis, Scott Gallimore, and I along with a some remarkable graduate students continued to work our way through the data from the Western Argolid Regional Project. Yesterday, Dimitri published a little blog post that expressed a good bit of our frustration with interpreting our data. In some ways, his post expresses some of the same ideas that I tried to work through with “Slow Archaeology.” Analyzing survey data is hard.

For WARP, the challenge stems, in part, from the quantity of data that we produced as well as the fit between what we anticipated (and how this shaped our data collection processes) and what we found on the ground. There is always some risk that the tension between how we collected data and the structure of our databases may obscure the historical and archaeological processes that led to the distribution of material across our survey area. For example, we know that certain areas in our survey produced very few artifacts, but it’s so far been hard to determine whether this reflects an ancient reality (i.e. limited activities), natural processes (e.g. erosion or other depositional events), or a modern field conditions (i.e. surface visibility, plowing, imported soils, et c.). In this situation, we have tried to understand the combination of variables that characterizes low-density artifact scatters in a generalizable way without undermining the possibility that low-density scatters are produced through a wide range of processes. Difficulties of this kind are not unique to our project or survey archaeology, but are fundamental to any effort that takes into account formation processes.

I’ve also read Anthony Kaldellis’s new translation of Ioannis Polemis edition of the Life of Peter of Argos in their Saints of Ninth- and Tenth-Century Greece. One of my favorite stories involves the battle between Argos and Nauplion over the body of St. Peter of Argos. It think there’s a lesson in this for all of us (I’m not sure what that lesson is):

Life of Peter of Argos, Chapter 14

Then a quarrel broke out between the citizens of Argos and those of Nauplion, as the latter wanted to carry the blessed relic into their own town and transfer it to Nauplion. They even drew weapons, but their rush was checked by the multitude of inhabitants of Argos. So they yielded unwillingly and failed in their purpose.

The Ancient Economy

This summer, I read Taco Terpstra’s little book on the ancient economy for a short review. I’ve not had the most productive summer, but I did get a draft of this review done. Here it is: 

Taco Terpstra’s book, Trade in the Ancient Mediterranean: Private Order and Public Institutions, seeks to transform and complicate our understanding of the ancient economy. Writing in the tradition of Moses Finley’s Ancient Economy, Terpstra returns to the idea that Ancient Mediterranean economies shared certain common elements that derive primarily from their relationship to the state. In this way, Terpstra challenges the prevailing view that the basic structure of economies in the antiquity were regionally and chronologically diverse. He employs a Neo-institutionalist perspective on the relationship between the Ancient state and economy to argue the emergence of the state created the environment promoting economic growth starting in the 7th century BCE. Parallels between the trend lines produced from graphs showing the number of shipwrecks and quantity of lead pollution in Greenland ice cores offers a surrogate from economic growth and traces the emergence and collapse of ancient states in the Mediterranean. The significant contribution of this book, however, is to add nuance to this parallel between economic growth and the growth of states. Terpstra argues with varying degrees of effectiveness, that the development of the ancient economy did not rely on the state’s enforcement of private property.

Chapters two to four of the book offer argue for the complicated interaction between state and non-state groups and relationships in the ancient economy. Chapter two considers the trade diaspora in the ancient Mediterranean and demonstrates that ancient cities maintained relationships and supported diaspora communities. The epigraphic record and textual sources document the ongoing relationship between the Phoenician city of Tyre and various cities in the Eastern and Western Mediterranean. Terpstra indicates that while the city councils at Tyre and in host cities recognized the diaspora communities, these groups largely acted independent of state control. In chapter three, Terpstra drew upon papyrological evidence from the Hellenistic Zenon Archive. This archive preserved the correspondence of Zenon, an employee of Apollonios who was a high official in the Ptolemaic kingdom, and documented the easy combination of official and private affairs for government officials. For Terpstra, the use of official status for private gain, as is evident in these letters, shows how the state functioned as a “stationary bandit” and state officials leveraged their access to resources for personal gain. Even in this situation, however, the state did not provide enforcement or protection of private property; in fact, private actions and terms almost always resolved incidences of unethical, illegal, or uncooperative behavior in the archive. Chapter four considers the role of witnesses in the Roman world drawing upon a number of preserved witness lists from Italy and the provinces. The arrangement of these lists by social rank suggested that status within Roman society provided a meaningful check on private contracts and transactions. While status within the Roman world depended upon and paralleled the organization of the state, it was not strictly speaking a state function nor did it mark state involvement in the enforcement of private dealings. In these chapters, Terpstra paints a compelling picture of the limits of the state’s involvement in the ancient economy and the way in which private relationships structured economic activity. That these private relationships often depend upon the authority of the state to thrive and grow explains parallel rise of the Mediterranean’s economic fortunes between the 7th c. BCE and the 2nd c. CE.

Terpstra’s work finds itself on shakier grounds when he reaches Late Antiquity. Rather than continuing to trace the role of non-state relations in the changing economy of the 4th-5th centuries, Terpstra turns his attention to how changes in the reach of the state may have led to the constriction of the ancient economy. He acknowledged a wide range of probable causes for the decline of the Roman economy including environmental, political, and military challenges. At the same time, he suggested that the rise of Christianity and the suppression of polytheism undermined one of the main ways in which non-state diaspora communities created “honest signaling” across the Mediterranean. The suppression of paganism compromised diaspora communities organized around the devotion to regional deities and the interregional relationships that these communities maintained. To support this point, however, Terpstra looks at the destruction of the Marneion in Gaza and the Sarapeion in Alexandria by Christian groups. Absent is any clear connection between these events and the diaspora communities among who identified with these cults. An epilogue explores the decline of the Roman Empire and the Mediterranean economy in the 6th century. Terpstra suggests the loss of Egypt to Roman rule in the early 7th century marked the end of the ancient world and its economy. We are left to assume that the non-state relationships and practices so carefully outlined in the first three chapters expired with the decline of the state structures in which they incubated. Absent is any discussion of the growing body of archaeological evidence for the persistence of economic ties in the century or so after the collapse of Roman rule in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Terpstra’s book concludes on a more speculative note. He suggests that the political and social stability enjoyed by the Roman Empire may have served to suppress innovation by carefully managing competition between groups and for access to commodities. In contrast, the dynamism of the Late Medieval and Early Modern economy benefited from the highly fragmented political landscape of that period. The adventurous expansiveness of the book’s final pages does little to undermine the compelling arguments in the first four chapters which could have easily stood alone as a much shorter and tidier volume. Terpstra acknowledges that much more work is necessary to produce a definitive perspective on the ancient economy. In this context, perhaps readers will excuse the unevenness of this short book and share the author’s optimism.


I read over the weekend Michael Given’s article titled “The materiality, monumentality and biography of copper slag on Cyprus” in the relatively recently publish festschrift for Anthony Snograss.  

Given explores the materiality of slag which is ubiquitous on Cyprus. Slag preserves in a tactile way the history of its production with the bubbles and rivulets on its surface reproducing the flow of molten metal from the furnace. The orderly deposition of slag near production sites created platforms for the superimposition of smelting kilns atop one another.  These form of slag and surfaces capture the work of producing copper from the rich ores of the Troodos mountains.

The article inspired me to think about two things.

First, slag is very common across the excavations at Polis-Chrysochous. This summer, in fact, we studied a layer of slag deposited below a floor surface and apparently used as a leveling fill. The presence of a slag heap dated by early archaeologists in the region to the Roman period likely served as a useful deposit of building material. The same slag may have also been used to pave the roads around our sites and accounts, in part, for the presence of slag in upper levels throughout the area. 

Second, I got to thinking a bit about how Given’s study of slag might inform of my thoughts about the production of refined oil in the Bakken oil patch in North Dakota. Given’s emphasis on flow as physically manifest in the form of slag, has obvious parallels with the flow of oil not only from the depths of the Bakken and Three Forks formation, but also through pipes onto trucks and through pipelines to refineries. If flow is the quintessential metaphor for modern understandings of productivity and capital, oil is the physical manifestation of this metaphor. It not only produces so much of the wealth necessary for the expansion of the modern economy (and ideas of prosperity, democracy, and social equality), but it also represents the flow of populations, wealth, and capital.  

Defending the Edge of the Empire

On my flight home from Greece, I read Fotini Kondyli’s recent(-ish) article in the The Annual of the British School at Athens 112 (2017), titled “Lords at the End of the Empire: Negotiating Power in the Late Byzantine Frontiers (14th-15th Centuries).”  It’s a nice article that explores the complex relationship between semi-autonomous rulers of the Byzantine frontiers and the Emperor as well as the techniques these rulers used to ingratiate themselves to the local populations and to organize their dominions.

I’m still thinking about the archaeology of islands in the Byzantine period and how insularity shaped the history of Late Roman and Early Byzantine Cyprus. Kondyli’s carefully researched paper argues that the weakened centralized state and Emperor encouraged the promotion of autonomous border lords who were given territory, land, and tax incentives to defend the frontiers. What interested me, in particular, was how the geography of the frontier supported the autonomy of these border lords. Kondyli examines the topography and view sheds of the border lords’ towers and fortification, for example, that allowed them to monitor traffic through and around their domains. In cases like this, a balance emerged between the political insularity that reinforced autonomy, and the discontinuous character of late Byzantine grants of land and the connections, however symbolic and tenuous, with central Byzantine state, that required connectivity.

While this doesn’t map neatly onto the situation on Cyprus at the end of antiquity, various officials did leverage the island’s insularity to buoy their claims to autonomy, from the bishops who demanded the island’s autocephalous status in the East to Heraclius using the island as a basis for his coup in 610 and later as the launching point for his military expeditions in the Levant. The usual political arrangement on the island at the end of the 7th century (whatever the specifics of the so-called “condominium” arrangement between the Byzantine state and the Califate) reinforced the islands frontier status and the distinctiveness of the arrangement would have encouraged the local elite to respond in ways that negotiated between their precarious status at the edge of the empire and the historical ties to Byzantine authority. The negotiation between the island’s status as a frontier and long-standing political ties to the capital culminated, perhaps, in the Middle Byzantine period with the rise of Isaac Komnenos whose ham-fisted efforts to secure Cyprus as a base for his ambitions and appetites both failed and brought grief to the island.

Kondyli’s article does not consider Cyprus, but her general observation that frontier border lords encouraged a tension between the autonomy of their domains and their ties to the imperial center provides a lens through which to consider Cyprus in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine period as both insular (literally and politically) and connected.   

Environmental Determinism and Causality in Archaeology

This weekend as I descended into a seasonally appropriate panic about how little I had accomplished, I read the most recent discussion in Archaeological Dialogues on environmental determinism and causality in archaeology. Like most archaeologists, I’ve struggled to understand much less integrate the flood (see what I did there?) of regional and global climate data into the archaeology of particular places in the Eastern Mediterranean. I’ve recently read work by Sturt Manning and Katie Kearns on Cyprus and John Haldon, Hugh Elton, and James Newhard on Anatolia and started to think a tiny bit about environmental data might speak to issues like urban change in Late Antiquity, the nature of insularity, and agricultural and settlement patterns in the Western Argolid.  

Connecting how we understand environmental data to how we produce archaeological arguments pushes us both to think about temporality (and the multiple scales of time that shape archaeological knowledge) and, as the articles in Archaeological Dialogues foreground, causality. There’s a temptation to connect environmental changes to social, economic, and political change in the archaeological record. This, of course, maps on nicely to recent discussions on the impact of climate change in the 21st century. As Bruno Latour and others have suggested, the ancient and modern challenge of associating environmental changes with political changes is that it rests on the dichotomy between the natural and the human. Recent, and to my mind more subtle and thoughtful, work has emphasized the blurred lines between the natural, the social, the political, and the culture. As a result, arguments for causality that see one variable – say climate change – directly transforming another – say political or economic relationships – tend to be problematic. Contemporary commentators, for example, have proposed alternately, that the poor will bear the burden of modern climate change more than the rich; others have suggested that the poor may well be more resilient than the wealthy when faced with ecological and environmental instability. As Amitav Ghosh sagely noted, in the 21st century, the poor are already experiencing the future. This observation nicely complicates the idea of progress that seems to reinforce the linear ideas of causality. 


Despite my efforts to have a “shorter season” this summer, it still felt pretty long. My time in Greece and Cyprus was both productive and exhausting. I’m looking forward to going home and tucking into a few publishing projects, the next issue of North Dakota Quarterly, and some more serious writing. Maybe I’ll even have time to pet the dogs (but not because Donna Zuckerberg told me to).

I learned new stuff this summer. I discovered that I really like Loux brand soda waterI learned how to make and how not to make a GeoJSON, and I discovered that for a label to be effective in a photograph, it must be visible. I also feel like I came to accept my fate as someone who publishes Hellenistic fortifications and I learned about topobros. I continue to try to come to grips with the 7th century in Greece and maybe the 8th century in Cyprus. I thought carefully about how I use legacy data and started to think about whether island archaeology can productively inform the archaeology of Late Antiquity and Byzantium. So far, then, it was a good summer.

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Finally, I discovered that sometimes it’s not the lamp that you photograph, it’s how you photograph the lamp.

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