Jamie Stott

Aussie Throwback Blog: Archaeologyschmarchaeology

April 9, 2014, by Jamie Stott, category Ramblings

How you know youre not in Kansas anymore Toto: fieldwork being delayed due to a cyclone. Yep, that actually happened. For you Australians, that’s no big deal, but for simple Navajowegians from Utah, that’s never happened before lol. I was supposed to leave on Monday but was delayed till Wednesday. I anxiously packed everything into my bag and headed to the airport. When my co-worker and I checked in for our flight the attendant told us there was a slight delay….

…a slight delay ended up in me sitting at the airport with my crew for SEVEN hours! Which, for anyone who has spent more than an hour in an airport, you know this to be pure and utter torture. Turns out that none of the planes could land at the mining site due to low clouds (and since it’s a mining site and not an actual airport, they don’t have any of the fancy equipment that would allow them to land in inclement weather) and a medical emergency. So, we turned around and went home to wait until the next day, when we could come back to the airport. Ive decided that the only time I should ever be at the airport as much as that is if Im flying home to see my love, family and friends. Which incidentally is only 36 days, 14 hours, 10 min and 30 seconds away from happening. YAY!!!!

Anyway, once we finally got on the plane I got all settled in. for those of you who don’t know me, “settled in” means taking my motion sickness pill and locating my nearest barf bag. Imagine my joy and surprise to find  out that my plane was equipped with these fancy babies:

sicsac

Yep, that’s right, it says Sic-Sac! Lol, never spewed into a Sic-Sac before! I was highly entertained. Although thankfully, no barf graced its plasticky insides.

However, once we landed and grabbed our Land Cruisers, we were gently informed that the nicer camp was at capacity and that we’d be staying at the “overflow” camp. As someone who is currently staying at the “overflow” camp, I can safely inform all of you that the term “overflow” must be code for “shithole”. Yep, this place looks like a crackhead shanty town. See?

Australian Mining Camp

On the bright side, no crawly bugs or serpents were living in my room! But I did have to scrape away a large spider web so I could get into my bathroom. I heart adventures lol!

If Im honest, being in the field is a love/hate relationship. When Im home in the city, I wish I was out in the field, and once Ive been in the field for 5+ days, Im wishing I was back in the office. You always want what you cant have right? Technically Ive only been out here for three days so Im still in the “loving it” phase. I love being outside, the desert smells, the animal sounds, and the cool archaeology I get to manhandle.

Australian Outback Australian Outback

Yesterday we started off with a little bit of site recording. What is site recording you say? Well, we walk around looking for aritfacts, when you find one, you make a scuff mark in the dirt with your boot. At home we use pin-flags to mark artifacts when we’re recording a site, but out here the dirt is such a vibrant color of red, that when you make a mark in the dirt, it shows up really well. Once we’ve marked up a site, we divide up and start recording. One person starts making a site map with the GPS, one person takes site photos, and the other two record every artifact in excruciating detail. Once that’s done, you find some shade (or sit in the car in the air-con if youre a pussy) and write up the site form. Its that easy man.

Aside from the work business, there is always something fantastic to check out while youre in the field. The fellas called me over to check out something, so I go over thinking they have an artifact and when I get close they tell me to stop and look at the ground. I stood there staring for a good 20 seconds before my eyes spotted it.

It’s a crazy Pilbara desert lizard! (no, not what they’re actually called, but I like the name yeah?) I told them it looked like a horny toad from at home and they burst into laughter because I said the word “horny”. Honestly, doesn’t matter how old you are, some words are just plain funny.

 I also saw these cool tall dirt piles that I thought were ant hills, but turns out that termites make them. Better add that fun fact to my bag of tricks…

3

AND….for those of you at home who have worked with me in the field, I got to ask these Aussie animals if they wanted to party (super stoked haha):

5 2

For those of you who were totally befuddled by my above statement, let me explain. It started during my first year of field school in Range Creek, Utah. We’d be driving in the car and if we spotted wildlife of any kind (moose, deer, pronghorn…) we’d stop the car, roll down the window, and shout at them and ask them if they partied. Bout half the time the animals did something that indicated they LOVED to party, and about the other half the time they just stared blankly at us or ran away in terror. Im not sure why we ever started doing this, but I know that its really funny and totally ridiculous (if those aren’t reasons for doing something I don’t know what is…)

Archaeologists are a weird bunch. We are all obviously nerds at heart or we wouldn’t be doing this profession, but beyond that, we’re all just plain ole freakpies. You get the diehard history nerds who want to discuss abstract theories, you get wingnuts who like the crazy myths about archaeology (ahem, the pyramids were built by aliens…), you get hippies who just like to be outside, and I’ve noticed a new breed here in Australia who are in it solely for the money (never heard of shovel bums earning six figures anywhere else in my life, the industry is CRAZY out here), and you get weirdos like me who like to ask animals if they party…haha

Today was fairly exciting. So we’ve moved on to survey (walking an area looking for artifacts), so we were just wrapping up our survey area when one of the land curisers following us got bogged down (stuck for those of you who don’t use the term bogged lol) in an ephemeral creek area. Our pea brains had magically forgotten that the whole area got hammered pretty hard by the aforementioned cyclone…hence the muddy nightmare. My boss managed to sink all four tires in the mud. Completely buried above the axels, which if this creek didn’t have a name, I’d recommend calling it Shit Creek after today. So the other land cruiser tries to come to the rescue and gets bogged down too. We were stuck for over four hours in the mud. That’s a lot of digging, wheel spinning, swearing, and manly sounding grunts. We managed to free them up and this is a clip of the rescue:

(….yes, that’s me yelling WOOHOO like an idiot)

 

Apparently summer is winding down, and our “cool” days consist of temps around 95° F. I’m getting used to the heat and desperately trying to avoid the Pilbara tan (tan hands, neck and face since that’s the only part of your body exposed). The flies are still pretty bad, have to wear a face net most of the time so they don’t fly into my eyeballs, or up my nose, or in my ears. Wish I could fly up a fly’s nose and show him how ANNOYING it is. Little bastards lol.

Jamie Stott

Ahh the adventures of being in the field….

So, what do you think ?