When you go to a museum, you expect to see complete, or at least nearly complete, artifacts that can be appreciated as much for their artistry and beauty as for their information content. In the field, the reality is that only a tiny fraction of the artifacts we find are complete. Most are broken, bent, missing parts, badly corroded, and, in some cases, barely recognizable. One of our newest team members, Hayley Lacis, took on the task this summer of piecing together as many of the broken pottery vessels we have found as possible. It’s like putting together jigsaw puzzles… without the box… or all the pieces. It is amazing how good she was at finding joins in the pottery; nearly complete vessels appeared to grow out of a mass of fragments allowing us to make thorough descriptions of the original pottery shapes and functions.
Below, Hayley is applying a weak solution of hydrochloric acid to remove the salt and mineral encrustations on a rim sherd of a huge pithos storage jar (it once stood as tall as she is) as part of her reconstruction work. Note that she has on goggles and protective gloves. Hayley’s undergraduate degree was in Classics from Mt. Holyoke College, and she is planning next year to apply to archaeological conservation programs for graduate school. She’s been working at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston since 2008 and with the Giza Archive Project, so she has lots of experience with archaeology and ancient artifacts.
Once Hayley has put together as many pieces as possible from our sherd batches, we draw the vessels and photograph them, record their fabrics, decoration, and other details and enter the information into our extensive database. The most complete and interesting vessels go to the Diyarbakir Museum for their study collection, or for eventual display. The rest, sadly, are taken back to Ziyaret Tepe for reburial.
Like all of our staff, Hayley has many other talents, including being a fine watercolorist. With her permission, I have made a small collection of some of her archaeological-themed watercolors from this year for you to enjoy. Hayley left a few days ago for the US. She and Willis are headed back to school and work and are busy planning their October wedding. Best of wishes to both of them from all of us!