The redeye from London was brutal–8:30PM to 6:00AM, with a 3 hour loss, so it was really like arriving on the dusty tarmac in Doha at 3:00AM. I slept for about half of the 6 hour flight, thinking that I was getting pretty good at these overnight flights after a few dozen transatlantic ventures. Not so much.
Luckily I was booked into the Gloria hotel in Doha, a fancy (for me, but not for Doha!) 4-star hotel with king-sized beds and flat screen TVs. Archaeology is odd–you meet kings, stay in fancy hotels, and get invited to crazy rich-kid parties, but you also stay in the crappiest hovels, eat the worst food, and get shot at occasionally. It’s not really a dichotomy as much as just miscellaneous.
Doha is like an uber-Dallas in the 1980s–you can’t walk anywhere, everything is under construction and everyone is oil-rich. It’s like living inside of a mall. Even the souk is very clean and tidy and nobody tries to sell you anything. There’s a store where you can buy hawks to hunt with and they’re all lined up in a row, hooded, but still twitchy. I needed a towel and a plumb bob and a couple of other things, but was too spooked by the tidiness to actually purchase anything.
The rental car hadn’t arrived by the second day, so I went to the new Modern art museum (incredible exhibition!) and to the Islamic art museum. Both were amazingly presented–one of the directors here told me that there is more non-reflective glass in the Islamic art museum than anywhere else in the world. That, indeed, some of the display cases are worth far more than the artifacts contained within. I found that mostly believable, but there is a huge amount of bling in the museum in the form of ruby-encrusted falcons and the like.
I made it out to site the next day, and started working, but it has been a bit slow because we lack the proper equipment. Hopefully we’ll get it sorted out in the next few days and I’ll give a proper (though necessarily vague) update about the archaeology out here.