promoting cultural heritage and conservation

Life in the Trenches: Week 2 at the dig

Week 2 at Parco dei Ravennati takes us behind the scenes with Katherine Livingston, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities), Near Eastern and Mediterranean Archaeology major:

When people hear that I am in Rome for an archaeological dig, many comments referencing Lara Croft or Indiana Jones pop up. The adventurous and even dangerous connotation that archaeology has developed in the media is generally fictitious. So when I heard Dr. Michele Raddi refer to some of his teachings as “Survival Archaeology” during workshops I let out a small scoff. But over this week I’ve seen that while it may not be risking life or death, surviving means adapting and cooperating for the ensured integrity and success of an archeological site.

The second week of excavations was, for lack of a better description, interesting. Unfortunate transportation hiccups, water shortages, and unprecedented site conditions pushed everyone’s patience to the limit. We were all so excited to get our hands into the dirt and be true archaeologists, but it was important to step back, make due with what resources (or people) were there and make the best out of the situation. At one point, our team was comprised of 5 people, as the rest were stuck in a hellish train situation, trying to be productive while most of our hands were elsewhere. Later, when we dug into the fresh topsoil of Site B, we were greeted with a destructive root system from a nearby tree, meaning reevaluation of how to excavate. It was tough and exhausting but we powered through.

While resourcefulness was the most prominent trait of this week, the most important survival tactic to remember when working in a dig is that you are never alone. The secret lesson underneath the technicalities of excavations was to work together. Depending on each other, challenging each other, and asking questions was fundamental in making this week a success despite unforeseen challenges. Was it frustrating at times? Of course- but by using intuition, creativity, and teamwork, the week was ultimately rewarding and I am excited for the rest of the season at Parco dei Ravennati!

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