Wednesday, June 03, 2009


Oh woe is me... I have allergies. I always bring LOADS of allergy medicine with me. It has almost always worked. I did bring allergy medicine with me, but for whatever reason, it seems to have no impact on my nose. I had a lovely few days and then today I was hit.


I was miserable.

It was so bad, the dig director sent in our pottery specialist (who will dig in the field until we find enough to keep her busy) to find the director's Sudafed. Two of those and half an hour later I was right as rain. Actually, I was rather bouncy. No wonder they make meth out of the stuff. Those little red pills are GREAT!

They may sell this in the shop, otherwise I have to wait until I can find a pharmacy that will either sell more of it or something similar.

Speaking of things that were drugged... I know the past tense of drag is not drugged, but in archaeology land, we often invent new words or new meanings for things to entertain ourselves. It's the heat you know. So "I drug it" is a fairly acceptable humorous term for dragging an artifact from the ground with your tools. Alas, not everything that gets dragged from the ground is something you are glad to have drugged.

I did not take pictures of this, it wasn't really a photo taking opportunity.

We have a large deep open square on our site that we are currently digging adjacent to in order to open a wider area and create a series of "steps" down to the lowest point (among other things, but I'm trying to keep it simple and away from archaeological theory, which is not as interesting and has no bearing on this story.) Because the walls of this pit are exposed (the dirt walls of any archaeological square are called "baulks" - and that is your archaeological vocabulary for the day), sometimes animals will burrow into the baulks. Today we discovered that two families of birds had done so and were in the process of raising a family... which included a number of baby birds.

Can you see where I am going with this?

We excavated the nests.

We didn't mean to! I mean, we can't really help it if they burrowed in or borrowed a previously used animal burrow, they go underneath where we are digging. Many of the holes are old and abandoned or house mice that can run away. Baby birds cannot run. They can't really do much except die. But we certainly do not set out to maim and kill defenseless animals living in their small homes, no matter how damaging to an archaeological site those animals may be (they dig where we want to dig)

Four were killed out right. We think it might have been yesterday when the square supervisor was walking around the square and part of the ground sank under his feet. It's likely that was the nest collapsing. So today three dead baby birds were drug out of the nest with a large hoe. After a rather savage pick-axing. Oh dear. Then while removing a pile of collapsed rubble we found another nest. This time we only lost one baby bird and saved three more.

We were then left with an ethical dilemma. We don't really like to kill the non-poisonous things that are in our square. We routinely chase mice out. But mice can run. Baby birds will die. Should we kill them quickly or leave them to die slowly of heat, dehydration, exposure, starvation or predation? I didn't really want to do it, but as I was galvanizing myself and preparing to do the deed, our pottery specialist volunteered to find out where she could take the birds and then take them there, provided they could survive in a bucket in the shade for a few hours.

Thank god! I really was not looking forward to what I would need to do with a dustpan.

UPDATE: The baby birds have been delivered to the very nice lady who loves birds. She thinks they have a good chance. And we are all hoping that the rest of those burrows have mice and snakes and lizards and ANYTHING other than baby birds.


  1. Oh I really am glad to hear that a few of the baby birds survived! Funny thing to run across during a dig.

  2. Ooh do take care of yourself!!

  3. You poor thing! There really is no escaping allergies- I had gallbladder surgery recently and am at home sleeping all day pretty much and they still managed to hit me! I don't even go inside! Gah... I'm maybe allergic to my apartment.

  4. Sudafed? Can we get it here? It sounds...interesting...


Keep it clean, don't be mean....