I made it to Heraklion at around 1PM, minus one piece of luggage. My Amman to Istanbul to Athens to Crete flights had started at 3:30AM that day, and the suitcase containing the majority of my clothes and my dig boots had gotten lost somewhere in-between. The site is about 1.5 hours away by bus, but the next bus wasn’t for a couple of hours, so I had some nice coffee with Dan in Heraklion’s main plaza. I was still dazed from transit but I couldn’t help but notice….
Everybody was naked.
It was true! I hadn’t seen that much flesh for what seemed like ages and I found myself completely shocked. Bikinis! Tiny shorts! Shirtless guys! Such a startling change from dusty ol’ Dhiban. Well, the nudity and the sparkling Med, olive orchards and absolute disinterest from the locals–a blessing after the constant harassment in Jordan.
When the bus pulled into Istron we got off at the bus stop and were immediately sighted by Barry, the site director. He picked us up and we had a quick beer at the local bar. The dig house is about a mile away from town, down a small road that wanders through olive orchards, tiny house gardens, and WWII gun emplacements. Each of the apartments has a small kitchen inside, so I’ve been eating lovely greek salads and ratatouille and as many vegetables as I can stomach. There are lemon trees outside and the cicadas buzz so loudly you can’t hear the person next to you at times. I’m sharing the flat with a lovely Polish couple who made mead to drink tonight at sunset.
The site is on the coast, a walk back up the town road and then a short walk to the beach, where the ruins rise out of a rocky outcropping in the sea. It’s a beautiful walk in the morning, wandering between the shadows of the olive trees and checking out the first swimmers of the day.
Sadly it’s been a slow start when it comes to the archaeology. The permit process has been slow this year and we can’t start work until it is issued. So we’ve been cleaning and planning and the students have been washing and sorting pottery until they’re half-blind. I have been taking my time planning the area I’ve been assigned, which mostly fits onto a 5m x 7m grid of graph paper. There’s a scatter of stones to the north and what looks like a room to the south, but the walls are a bit wonky and the coursing is strange, so I’ll have to sort it all out when we are allowed to dig.
The site is multi-phase (it has a really excellent website if you want details) but it looks like I’m up in the Byzantine again, with a hint of Hellenistic. Odd work for a girl that likes the prehistoric, but I’m quite happy as we’re digging the site using a modified single-context system. It’s amazing how much of a difference that makes for me. I’ve vowed not to dig at sites that use other recording systems, but that vow will probably go the way of the vow I made several years ago that I’d never dig for free again. Hah.
My dig boots arrived yesterday so hopefully the permit will come in soon. In the meantime, I think I’ll go for a swim after my glass of mead.