I have been thinking about… » Field work in Rome - it's a hard life
Over the last few days myself and a PhD student from Southampton University have been in Rome and Portus doing fieldwork. Now, let me be clear, sacrifices have been made for us to be here. We had to take the 07:00 flight from Gatwick, and we have worked over two British bank holidays, so don't go thinking this is a jolly.
The fieldwork so far at Portus (the remains of a roman port about 30km to the west of Rome) has been incredibly interesting. My only other experience of archeology has come through watching Time Team with my Dad as a child, but seeing archeology in real life has made me re-think it as a discipline. Watching the team work on-site is tiring. Many of the "workers" spend their time outside in the hot Italian sun excavating a trench all day. In fact one of the workers there at the moment has been digging in the same trench for the last three weeks. I have tended not to think of research as being a terribly physical thing, but seeing archeologists as work has changed my view on this. I wonder how much their bodies change as a result of their obvious passion for archeology?
I have sat and talked to the archeologists as they have worked, and even helped mark some roman shards of pottery. I have watched Roman pieces of glass being photographed and seen the top layer flaking away, leaving something even more delicate. Talking to the archeologists as they do their work has made me realise that there is really only a very limited time to catalogue what is found in the ground, because the act of removing artefacts results in their decay. This is why it is so important that the archelogists work together to ensure as much is collected about the objects as possible and as accurately as possible to aid researchers' interpretation of the site, and the roman people.