February 18, 2006

The lap, nay, the very crotch, of luxury.

I've been forcing myself to consider other summer fieldwork options besides Israel. There are a dozen others posted on the Anthropology department boards alone, and trolling the internet reveals several hundred more sponsored by various schools and organizations. It isn't necessary, I've told myself repeatedly, to go halfway around the world and bankrupt myself utterly to dig up some stuff when I could dig up some stuff in Utah or Virginia or Washington instead. Or Scotland, or Chile, or for some reason twenty or so different places in Bulgaria. I don't know about that last one.

But I've come to a realization, and that realization is leading me straight back to the Israel trip. The realization is this: if I'm going to be spending my summer doing backbreaking labor (which is precisely what fieldwork means) and paying lots of money for it (which is precisely what summer school means), then goddamnit, I want to be unreasonably coddled. I don't want to hear that I'm responsible for lodging myself for whatever cost I can negotiate in one of several neighboring towns and I should please contact the national board of tourismm for suggestions. I also don't want to hear that I should bring a sleeping bag and camp out, with running water only a half-mile away. I want to hear that someone else has already figured out a place for me to live, and it's a plumbed and air-conditioned cabin on a nice beach five minutes' walk from the dig site. I don't want to be told that I can probably find a nearby grocery to buy food for myself even though I don't have a kitchen, or that I should try the local chicken dishes they're really lovely, or that I'll be sharing cooking responsibilities with my fellow excavators and it's up to me to beg them to occasionally make something I can eat so I don't starve too much. I want to be told that my meals will be provided by vegan-friendly catering which has already been arranged and that the only thing I'll have to worry about will be packing my own picnic lunches if I want to spend Saturday afternoon on the beach.

I want these things so much that getting them would be worth spending the next four months frantically fund-raising just to spend six weeks utterly and non-negotiably out of range of seeing my friends, beloved boyfriend, beloved sister, you know, cats, anything. Whereas if I were planning on going to Virginia to dig up something in Jefferson's poplar grove (what the fuck?), I'd practically be rubbing elbows with Katie on her southern lit-geek tour. If I were hauling rocks around New Mexico (no, really), I could hope to persuade Jacob to come out and visit me on a weekend. If I were trudging around trying to make maps of central Washington (these are all actual field schools, you know), well, then I'd be in Washington. I've said enough about Washington already.

But I don't want to dig up Jefferson's whatever, I'm not immediately moved by obsidian sources, and damnit, surveying isn't exciting. The other thing about school is that it's defined as the time when reality hasn't yet set in, which means I'm practically obligated to choose something unrealistically exotic like digging out Roman coins from under the foundations of Byzantine churches.

In short, I'll be turning in my application on Tuesday. Also, I predict that when I tell my mom I need my birth certificate so I can get a passport so I can go to Israel, she'll have conniptions right then and there. I've always wanted to see what conniptions are like.

Posted by dianna at February 18, 2006 03:55 PM

The Israel thing seems perfect. Any idea why it's so accomodating and well-managed in comparison to the others? That is, in terms of providing for room and board and crotch luxury and such.

Posted by: Zach S. at February 18, 2006 07:03 PM

Urgh. Who would want to make maps of central Washington, anyway? It's not like there's a heck of a lot out there.

Posted by: Jacob at February 18, 2006 08:05 PM

Jacob's question I can't answer, but as for Zach's, I suspect the answer actually has to do with how dramatic a site it is. Interest in archaeological work tends to lean heavily on a combination of how old it is and how sparkly the finds are; this is one reason why Egypt is such a big deal. Work that turns up interesting knowledge gets X amount of attention and therefore funding; work that turns up interesting items can get 2, 3, or 10x. Tel Dor is very old, spans several Big Deal periods of history (Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine), and has yielded some very sparkly items indeed.

Oh, right, and they're charging a lot of money to participate, although it seems like a number of the less crotchily luxurious ones are doing so as well.

Posted by: Dianna at February 18, 2006 08:56 PM

Perhaps they need to map Central Washington so they know where the apples are. (Confession: I've never actually been to Washington, so all of my knowledge of the state comes from hearsay and conjecture. Based on this, I've constructed a vision of Washington that consists of 1. Seattle, where it never stops raining. Ever. 2. Spokane, which is, according to Penny Arcade, "a reeking wound cut into the Earth," and 3. Apples, which presumably cover ever square inch of ground outside of Seattle and Spokane, given that the state of Washington appears to be the nation's sole supplier of Red Delicious apples year-round.)

Posted by: Zach S. at February 19, 2006 11:15 AM