GPR in the CYP with MPB

June 28th, 2015

Well, we are nearing the end, and as with most projects (not only in archaeology) there is a frantic push to get as much done as possible. Over the past week or so I have been fortunate enough to get to work quite a bit with Tommy Urban, our very own personal Geophysicist. He brought out his GPR equipment and we have been taking turns rotating onto the team that helps him scan the area and create a more comprehensive and clear image of what is below the surface. On this particular day I asked to help him do the field directly west of Unit 7 and building 16. The grid we wanted to get done was big, 40m N-S and 60m E-W. Instead of the usual 25cm intervals (in the interest of time and battery power) we opted to go with 50cm intervals along the grid. We knew from past surveys that there are definitely what appear to be tombs under the surface scattered around the field including one very large on and a group that are arranged in a circle/oval. When going over the area myself with the GPR unit, I was actually able to see the tombs appear on the screen and even get an idea of their size and shape. In particular, the western large tomb was the most visible not he screen as I walked over it, it created a perfect parabola on the screen was near 5m in total diameter and had a clear shape of a dromos tomb from the time period. On top of this, there was a clear chamber that branched off from the main chamber. This could be big, really big. We know that there was clear elite activity in the area, it is possible that one of these elites (King of Alashiya for sure) is buried in this exact location! Exciting times that I can only hope to be a part of in the future.


Dangerous Dendro

June 11th, 2015

This morning myself and Anna were fortunate enough to be chosen by Sturt Manning and Brita to go with them into the mountains to learn and participate in their dendrochronology on the island. Their job is to use dendro to create a drought history for the island and can go back as far as possible in order to better understand the history as well as the climate changes that have been going on. Now, it is probably important to note that dendro can be used for a variety of things pertaining to archaeology and the study of the past including dating, materials used in building as well as how certain foods were cooked. In this case it was not necessarily to do with history (in the traditional sense). We went into the Limasol forest to take core samples from the Brutia Pine tree. the core samples we took were roughly 0.5 cm in diameter and varied in length depending on the diameter of the tree. The trees we were concerned with were ones that were living on ridges and/or steep terrain as they would get less water and therefore were more susceptible to weather change and drought thus giving a better core sample that would be easier to read. The coring is done by hand with what is basically a long hollow tube with a screw on one end and a handle on the other. It is wound into the centre of the tree and then the core is extracted (don’t worry Vancouverites, the tree is fine) giving us a perfect line of rings with which to work with. The terrain that this is done on however is something else, although gorgeous, it is thorny. Very thorny. Oh and did I mention its done on ridges? Ya, ridges with nice steep slopes and awkward drilling angles. However, despite being ever so slightly dangerous, it is fascinating and can tell us things that cannot be told from simply digging in the dirt.

Not in Kalavasos anymore

Spending the last day in Larnaca was great. It had been exactly one month since Sylvie, Matt and I had been there last, although the people we were with were different. We ended up at the Meeting Pub on the beachfront and the restaurant owner remembered us from the first time we were there. For dinner we went to a restaurant close to the hotel and had one final mezze to remember our time in Cyprus – a little thrown off by the fact that chicken wings were included in this one.

I guess I should have been less worried about the flying portion the following day and more worried about my connection time because by the time my plane began unloading passengers at Heathrow airport I had less than 10 minutes to catch my next flight! Luckily British Airways compensated me and I got to stay in a hotel room with a direct flight the following morning – significantly better than having to layover in Calgary at 10:00pm.

I didn’t realize how excited I was to go home until I was delayed 12 hours in seeing the family and friends that would have been eagerly waiting for me at YVR to pick me up. I also didn’t realize how accustomed I had become to living with friends who are now like family until I was by myself for the first time in over a month. It’s strange how these things just sneak up on you. I will miss you all and can’t wait to see you back home!

And you’ll be happy to know I stayed awake.

CARRI workshop,

Today was the long anticipated workshop where all the archaeologists on the island share their discoveries and work in progress. There were many presenters this year and they all kept to time (this is a miracle if you know anything about archaeologists).

We heard about events all over the island. Two that were related were the Athienou Archaeology Project and the Athienou Mortuary Landscape Project. The latter was the more interesting of the two so I will tell you somewhat about it.

Essentially it was stated that burial practices can give a glimpse at communities through a closed context (if looting hasn’t occurred) over time. For instance the beginnings of social stratification can be seen in the inclusion of grave goods. The number of fancy pots and trinkets indicates the wealth and status of the deceased. We can also tell what professions were valued or how families were built. This of course is the aim of the Athienou Mortuary Landscape Project: to provide a view of mortuary ritual and communal change over time.

Anyways, that’s it for now. And this comes to you late as I finally have time to sit down and post it for you.


finally, cooperative Internet!

It’s the last day of digging… The site did not cooperate

We found stuff! So, the basin that was reported on earlier is sandstone not limestone. It extends downwards about 20cm and we still have no idea what it was used for. Hmmmmm…

In other news a big chunk of slag was found hiding in the original unit 7 test trench and, wait for it, we found ashlar! We are not sure if they are blocks of ashlar or simply the floor of a room, but they are massive and of the highest order.

These discoveries were both a blessing and a curse as they set off a flurry of activity that had us on site until sunset. We hope it made the directors day a little better after the car tire went flat and had him driving all the way to Larnaca. Unfortunately we won’t know anything further about our finds until next season’s excavations, but just knowing that all of that has been discovered is enough for now.

That’s my brief update,


This is my last post for this dig season and I decided to make a calage of pictures showing our evolution into real archaeologist.

DSCN0038.      DSCN0040DSCN0037. DSCN0373.    DSCN0551

DSCN0527.   DSCN0575

DSCN1037.    DSCN1072DSCN1091


Goodbye Cyprus

[June 29th, 2015.]

It’s 11:30am, and it seems Emma and I ended up being the last field-school members left at Takis 4. Now we’re exploiting a little downtime before the travelling begins again.

Last night Team Cyprus celebrated with a resounding ‘good-bye’ dinner, complete with a field–team slide-show, toasts and thanks, some omnipotent Zivinia “from the Troodos Mountains”, and a walk up the hillside to look over the valley from the water-tower, one last time. This post is sadly lacking any relevant photos to illustrate the view – I didn’t take any in the moment…but an image of the rolling horizon, the village homes below, and a scalene star-triangle overhead will be imprinted on the inside of my eyelids for weeks to come. Thanks to everyone for being yourself; thanks to Sheri, Kevin et al. who provided this experience for us; and thank you Cyprus, for being the complicated, lovely mess of a history that you are.

Dig Methods

It is interesting, it is one thing to read and research archaeological techniques and it is another to use them. This field school I have learned so much. I excavated using both a kenyon-wheeler method as well as a deep sounding. I can see the pros and cons for both. In both building 16 and in Unit 3 I excavated using the wheeler-kenyon method. We were able to go down in shallow passes, there could be multiple passes in one context. This allowed us to excavate gradually over a large area, thus discovering more. On the other hand the deep soundings we did in building 16 were also a cool to excavate. We were trying to uncover a small section of the floor so that we could then excavate at that level. After destroying my knees and contorting into positions I didn’t know I could I discovered the importance of it. It enables us to discover small sections of history over longer periods of time. It was awesome doing both methods!

Big shoutout to our “dig parents”!

For my final blog post, I wanted to take a moment to say a humongous thank-you to our dig parents: Kevin and Sheri! I think I can confidently speak for everyone on this trip when I write this. I felt very fortunate to be able to work underneath them– and I felt I have learnt so much. They both really worked hard to facilitate an environment of teaching and learning: they taught us all the archaeology tricks and tools, but they also wanted to hear what we had to say about our finds, let us take initiative in our own trenches and contexts, direct ourselves and trusted us with getting our work done. It was not only very confidence-boosting to have them believe so whole-heartedly in us, but it was also so gratifying.

And unrelated to the practical part of the digging I wanted to also say thank-you for all the organization that they put in. Maneuvering a huge group of us, organizing our dinners, our day trips, our breakfasts and making sure we are all okay emotionally and physically– we are all so thankful for that. Sheri and Kevin made this dig experience even more enjoyable than it already was, even the aspects that weren’t necessarily the most enjoyable!

So thank-you Kevin and Sheri from us all!

Trip to Nicosia

[June 25th, 2015.]

Our fieldtrip today involved a quick bus ride to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Choirokoitia for Scherene’s site presentation. It was a particularly hot (in both senses of the word:) tour of the Neolithic village which is built on a slope, with phases that span approximately 300 years of occupation. Stoneware vessel finds typify the Aceramic site and a large stone wall bisects the houses, suggesting a supra-household organization to promote and protect (?) shared interests. A reconstruction of three circular house structures nicely displays what the these households may have looked like, with an outdoor grinding station (quern and grinding stone) that visitors can experiment with.

After driving to Nicosia, we went directly to the Cyprus Archaeological Museum, which was simply stunning in terms of its breadth, and the loveliness of its countless artifacts. Some highlights in particular (that I was excited to view, anyway) were the “Vounous” house/sanctuary model of Red-Polished ware, the gold hoard from Hala Sultan Tekke (presumed to be a dowry from a LBA Levantine woman coming to Cyprus?) and the utter creativity exhibited in both zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figurines, vessels, and objects. I’m hoping to go back to Nicosia on the 29th, so will attempt to visit the Pierides Museum as well. Although it was intensely hot, I fell in love with Nicosia while there… especially its night-café culture.