There were so many things I wanted to be when I "grew up", and the memories of my life's adults trying to box up my imagination for practicality's sake are clear as day. I wanted to be an artist, a poet, a theatre actor, Sir Edmund Hillary, Jacques Cousteau, a trapezist, an historian, a microbiologist, an immunologist, a botanist, someone who worked in a cool café, a journalist, and Indiana Jones. Oh to be an archaeologist solving ancient mysteries, travelling around the world while fighting evil in a wide-brimmed fedora! Yes, this was the life I saw for myself until somewhere along the line I discovered that all I wanted to do was draw. Nevertheless, it's a thrill visiting working archaeological sites. I deeply admire the dusty, sunburnt scientists and students toiling away to put together pieces of our collective past, and I enjoy meeting the workmen with seemingly superhuman strength, who are often wells of knowledge on their site. I was lucky to have visited Göbeklitepe and Çatalhöyük last year, and to have met some lovely people working at both sites.
While I realise that the lives of archaeologists don't involve saving precious artifacts from Nazis, nor do they swing away from booby-trapped boulders on a whip, many do wear fedoras. Jens Notroff is one of the lucky archaeologists working on Göbeklitepe who wears such a hat, and has written a great post on his blog which describes an average day in the field. It's not Hollywood-glamorous, but it's still pretty awesome from my perspective.
When I visited the working site of the Roman terrace houses in Ephesus, there was plenty of evidence of how painstaking the work of reassembling ancient structures is— there were so many fragments of walls, columns, painted plaster, mosaics, and whatnot. The ultimate puzzle.
And look at what all their hard work gives us:
We can see that even the Romans knew that everything is better with a pigeon.