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Can You Dig It? An Archaeology Student’s Adventures in Cyprus

By Bethany Montague ’18

One week down, five to go.

My first thoughts on Cyprus: So. Very. Hot. While the island is gorgeous, the heat is often sometimes unbearable. On my very first day here it was already 100o. Despite that, though, I am in love with Cyprus, and my dig site. My camp site is another story though. We are living in army tents and sleeping in army cots. While this might not sound bad, with the Cyprus heat, it is terrible. Thankfully we have fans and lots of water. If we’re lucky, there will be a stro ng breeze which brings cool air into the tents.

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I am working at the ancient city of Idalion, which has been around since the 13th century BCE. Where I am working specifically is a Roman building of which we don’t know the function. While there are several theories, nothing has been declared yet. The site is just North East of the ancient administration building of Idalion that tourists come to see, and covers a large area.Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 10.32.24 AM

Work on the site began Monday, June 26. We start work in the field from 6-11, take a siesta from 11:30-4, and then return to the field from 4-7. The first day, along with the next four days, was spent weeding the trenches and cleaning up the site so that we could actually dig.  By Thursday afternoon we started actually breaking ground.

Along with working on site, I and the two other students went on walking lectures with the director of the field school, Professor Pamela Gaber, who started working at Idalion in the 1970s. She walked us through the city of Dali, which is where we are living, and showed us where the ancient city walls would have stood. We also climbed several mountains to follow the wall. She gave us the whole history of the site, both ancient and recent.

While we usually have Friday and Saturday off, this first week we worked Friday (since we started on Monday instead of Sunday), and Saturday was spent in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. We traveled to the city to attend the Cyprus American Archaeological Research Institute (CAARI) meeting and listen to the presentations on archaeological sites across Cyprus. It was super fascinating to know that all these amazing digs were on across this tiny island. After the conference, I wandered through the capital with two other girls, Tenninger and Emily, and went to a lot of tourist and local shops. We also crossed over to North Cyprus, which is owned by Turkey. There, we found a really neat market place where we all bought matching pants. We also visited the mosque, and were there when the Call to Prayer happened. It was an amazing feeling and we all got chills.

We were lucky, and Dr. Gaber gave us Sunday off. Tenninger, Emily, and I used the day to go to MacKenzie Beach in Larnaca. We spent over five hours at the beach, soaking up sun and enjoying the water.

While this has only been week one, I am already in love with this place. Despite the extreme heat and humidity, Cyprus has its charm and beauty. I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks hold for me.

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