Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quick blurb...

Sitting in the Museum Authorities, getting some Internet done.  

So I have some time to give you some more info - particularly about the finds Jennie asked about (since I did just pick up last years finds for cataloguing, this is a relevant question).

The site we're digging was abandoned within living memory.  By abandoned, I mean, most people moved away or at least out of the houses.  There are several people living in tents and campers on the beach, but they are mostly weekenders or squatters or we-don't-ask kinds of people who are not living IN the city.  Over time the city has filled with sand and wind-blown deposits, but walls remain up to a good height.  Most of the finds we've collected so far date to the 19th or early 20th century.  How long the site was settled is not known exactly and is one of the reasons we're digging.  Since it was one of the most important cities in Qatar when the economy was still based on pearls and not oil, it *should* date back quite a ways.  I put "should" in stars because, in archaeology, whenever something *should* be something, it generally isn't.  It's sort of the Murphy's Law of archaeology.  Right up there with, "if you are looking for something big and important that will take at least three days to excavate, you will only find it on the last day of excavation."  And my own personal law, "if the Archaeogoddess finds a wall in her square, it will go into the baulk (the soil left standing between two squares) and will NOT come out the other side."  I think I mentioned that law earlier this year.

Anyway, we have a curious collection of ceramics, some locally made, some imports from nearby, all pretty grungy, and then some really fantastic Chinese imported ware.

We also have a lot of boat nails because we are digging a harbor town whose economy was based on pearl diving, NOT finding boat nails would be weird.

There are a good enough number of coins and beads, and enough fish, goat, and camel bones to keep me busy.

But everything is salt encrusted and corroding.  Even the tool handles get a nice salty sheen to them.  Many of the metal finds are probably not that old, but in this environment, they don't last all that long.

So now I have lots to do, but a sever lack of storage space is going to make things rather messy about my office.  Not to mention the rust, dust, sand, and salt that already lends my office a shabby chic that you just can't buy anywhere.

Anyone know an office supply store in Doha?  One that sells cheap or used office furniture?  



  1. I have an archaeology question, funny it never occurred to me before...

    Why didn't people do a better job of demolishing buildings in the old days? Why did they leave so many walls behind?

  2. You really do have an interesting job! I would love to dig around and find things like that. Not that you get to keep them, but it sure would be fun to discover things like that.

  3. @ seasonticket: They didn't knock down the buildings at our site. They just moved away. Time and weather did the rest. When people did knock down walls, they only knock down the bits that stick up out of the ground, so if a building stays empty for 50 years, quite alot of debris builds up inside (the roof generally comes off within 5 years or so depending on construction method - sometimes it comes down much earlier) and so maybe only a meter sticks up and gets in your way. Sometimes they even built on top of the walls, they make good foundations, you see, and repave the floor and go from there. People will generally do the least amount of work they have to do. We're a lazy species, that's for sure! If people cleaned up after themselves all the time and recycled and used biodegradable materials, I'd be out of a job. *grin*

  4. Ahh okay :) Thanks for that!


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