I’ve been promising to introduce some of the staff. As you’ll see over the season, a successful project relies on individuals with diverse skills who are able to work together as a team. You will also notice that people lend a hand when work needs to be done, so everyone gets some experience with pottery analysis, digging, geophysical surveys, database management, and the dozens of other tasks that arise.
Willis Monroe is our registrar, which is a very key role. When he’s not here in Tepe, Willis is a PhD candidate at Brown University in the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies. He studies the ancient languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East, including Sumerian, Akkadian, and Hittite. His recent interests have been in Mesopotamian Astronomy and Late-Babylonian Scholarship. During high school he participated in a Rotary exchange program and spent a year in Ankara, which gave him the oppurtunity to learn Turkish and get to know the country. This is Willis’ fifth season at Ziyaret Tepe and it’s hard to imagine this place running well without him.
The official job of the registrar is to carefully describe all of the artifacts found at the excavation. In the old days, this meant keeping paper registers or notecards on each artifact; today it means that Willis also maintains our intranet, centralized database, and computer laboratory. In effect, he keeps track of the thousands of artifacts that come through the dig house each season. Needless to say, he is busy.
Each day during the excavation, Willis catalogues all of the new artifacts, makes sure that they are cleaned and sent to the right specialist for study and coordinates with our photographer, Hilary, and our illustrator, Paola, to make sure that the appropriate photographs and drawings are made. Somehow he manages to do this cheerfully, even when he is supposed to run the computer lab without electricity!