Monday, December 22, 2008

The Pen is Mightier than the Trowel...

... but only if the trowel is dull and very small, and the pen is very large, sharp and has a wide end.

Just this summer, I was trench-mates with another Archaeological Studies Program student who happens to be the unpaid and overworked web technician. Having great knowledge of the unknown world of megabytes and whatnot, trench-mate was used to explaining things in great detail. She micromanaged every able body working on the trench, having redefined the term "flexi-break" from break-at-your-own-pace to break-when-I-say-you-can-slave. Thus, earning her the moniker: Herr Dictator (which should be Fraulein but eh nobody speaks German).

I grabbed my trowel with my good hand, grabbed a bucket with the other, dug my knees to the ground, and raised my trowel high "whoosh". Just when my beautiful, loyal, sturdy trowel was about to hit glorious layer 2... Herr Dictator cut through my concentration with a well placed "Pau!". As HD explained in great detail how they got to where they are, several thoughts formed in my head. First was that although I took a year off from the field, it doesn't really matter that I was around for HD's first time to excavate in that seniority doesn't count in her book. Second, I ought to have obtrusively run around the trench, noisily leaf through their recording sheets to make it known that I was doing my homework. Third, if I was smart, I ought to have asked HD courteously (with a good helping of humility) what I was supposed to do because I just work here and I haven't marked the trench as my territory. Ddoing them would have given me extra water rations instead of an unpleasant lecture on how I haven't done this in a year and on how Victor thinks I'm an idiot. Victor might be right because instead of doing the smart thing, I looked at HD straight in the eyes and said: "Look love, this isn't my first time see." (HD: O.o)

Parched for a good deal of time, I was taking a swig of good cold water beside a neighboring trench dug by Dr. Grace Barretto-Tesoro and company. I recounted why my water rations were cut. "Digging isn't all about, well, digging, Pau," said Doc Grace, "It's also about working with different kinds of people. Excavations are all about people."

I've decided to share this tidbit of wisdom to everyone. I hope it's grammatical enough to be enjoyed and understood.

Good luck!


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  2. I don't think this would be nice... yes she 'cut' you from your concentrations. but you know each one has their own personality and like what 'Doc Grace' said it's about working with different kinds of people. i don't think you should backstab this person using this blog (which will be viewed by many). i'm an archaeologist and have worked with different people as well. if you have issues with this person you just have to tell it straight. don't use the blog to spill your issues or bitterness that you can't handle. i was a bit disappointed with you entry 'coz i'm looking forward to see different experiences of you students digging in a different country and all you can write down is about an issue that no one in your group is directly involved. but again it's just me...

  3. Oh I didn't backstab her. She knows and we laugh about it all the time. You're taking things too seriously ;)

  4. Oh...kay. Since this blog is "viewed by many", I should clarify that this experience happened NOT IN BANDA (this happened in the Philippines where everyone involved in the entry is Filipino).

    I'm disappointed that my point didn't go across to you as I had hoped. In that, you've totally missed the point! Again, my point is that "excavations are about people". Being humans, we all have our flaws as HD and me. What I wrote down was not an issue, I see it as an experience. I wrote the above because I am one of the few in the team who had any field experience. It was a cautionary tale of what might happen. As an archaeologist, you should have already experienced something similar. And you should have known that not everything in an excavation is "nice".

    My advice is that you should really assess what it is you do in an excavation and try taking a bit more interest in the people around you. Remember, an excavation is all about PEOPLE.