Creature Comforts & Happiness in the Field

Obviously, it’s a lot more complicated than this relatively straight-forward flow chart would make it out to be. A more accurate representation would include items such as decision-making power, respect for your labor, if the archaeology is nice, and if it greatly benefits your CV. One factor that I was relatively surprised to discover was the absolute necessity for collective down time.  There needs to be a point in the day when everyone quits working, sits down, and relaxes.  It is also vital that this relaxation be respected, that what you do during this time is nobody else’s business, unless, of course, it seriously jeopardizes the project.

There is no privacy on excavations and very often people can be out of their element. It’s important that they have a place away from the stresses and the judgement of locals and dig directors (unless the director is good enough to cast aside the day and have a drink) where they can chat. Small things like a cup of coffee or a game of backgammon can become disproportionately important.

Archaeologists are also naturally curious, and they generally like to do things with their hands–it kinda comes with the territory.  Better yet if there is an outlet for that.  The excavation team at Çatalhöyük comes together each week to build a bonfire, but they also have built a bar (to better keep the noise away from sleeping members of the team), a garden during one of the long seasons, and have experimented with making Neolithic ovens work, among many other things. Having a constructive outlet redirects energy from the griping that inevitably occurs on site.

Of all of the things that recommend one to an excavation, hearing that the excavation director “takes care of their people” is, to me, the highest.

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5 responses to “Creature Comforts & Happiness in the Field

  1. I love the diagram—I think it has cross-disciplinary appeal and will pass it to an anthropologist friend of mine—but also, your qualifying comments ring very true; one of my current colleagues has just come back from a dig in Romania he has been running and I am always surprised by how much of what he seems to have done while he’s out there is basically people management, defusing arguments, and so on. This season was especially good because he “only had to take someone to the hospital once”…

  2. reminds me of a simpler one – “oh snap: a flowchart”

    oh snap! (a flow chart)

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