The digging crew started to arrive a few days ago and we start the excavations tomorrow, so all the months of planning are finally at an end.
Dirk Wicke from Mainz University and three of his students, Judith Dosch, Fabian Heubel, and Sarah Reisel, as well as an archaeology student from Britain, David Astbury, have arrived. Our senior Turkish colleague, Kemalettin Koroglu from Marmara University is also here now, having driven across the country from Istanbul to join the team. We have three more excavators still to arrive, but the digging is soon underway with 35 local workmen meeting us at the site at 4:30am tomorrow.
Much of the day will be spent getting the equipment out of our depot, setting up the field camp (everything from tents to the outhouse), organizing the workmen into teams, mending equipment, taking preliminary notes, and cleaning up the old excavation areas. We have already set out some of the grid points for the new excavation areas, but after a year of weathering, we have plants, trash from a year’s worth of picnics on the mound, and backfill to remove from our old excavations. We probably won’t break new ground until Wednesday, but it still feels good to get started.
Tomorrow we will concentrate all our efforts on the Bronze Palace area and then shift workers and energies to the lower town on the following day. It is important to prepare the digging areas carefully. By the beginning of the next work week (that’s Saturday for us), we should be deep into the real archaeological deposits having cleared away the surface debris and plow zone.
I’ll post some photographs of our first morning at work so you can get a sense of what it is like. A few things are nearly certain: 4:30am will have a cool breeze, the sunrise should be spectacular, and there will be a buzz of anticipation in the air.