by Samantha Mittleman
As the final week approached, it began to set in for everyone that our six-week archaeological adventure was coming to a close. After digging at the site of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat for four weeks, the final week was spent completing all the lab work for the field season. There were many different jobs during lab week. I was assigned to pottery registration. This job entailed taking all the diagnostic pieces of pottery (rims, handles, and bases) from each square are writing sequential registration numbers on them. This is done in order to catalogue all the diagnostic sherds so that we have a record of all the pieces found; and you can only imagine after four weeks of digging how many pieces of pottery were collected! There were several other jobs during lab week. Some students were charged with drawing all of the stone, metal, bone, and ceramic objects that were collected over the four weeks. Data entry was also an important task during lab week. Students entered all of the recording sheets from the excavation into a database. Lastly there were our pottery drawers who took the diagnostic pottery sherds, after being registered, and drew them to find out what the complete vessel would have looked like.
Over the course of lab week, all the different groups slowly completed their jobs and some students were moved to other tasks, including me. I was lucky enough to move to the mending station. This job was basically a large puzzle. When a broken pot was found in the field, we would collect all of them and put them aside to be mended. When lab week came around, we would take all of these pieces and try to fit them together to reassemble the pot. I do have to say at times this was very frustrating because, unlike a puzzle, there was no picture at the front of the box. In the end, when I removed the tape to see the completed pot, it was very fulfilling to see the vessel that I put back together by myself. After these items are reassembled they are taken to the Madaba Archaeological Museum, used for study and sometimes put on display.
As the final week came to a close and we all began to pack up our things, we could reflect on the amazing six week journey we had just experienced; from the first night we arrived in Jordan not knowing anybody in the house to making long lasting friendships that will continue after our university years. Being able to be in the field, which we have heard so much about in the classroom, and applying the knowledge we have learned to discover new things about the site has had an incredible impact. Meeting the amazing people that live in Madaba, such as Mashoor and his family, Jalal and Yousef made it extremely difficult to leave. The weekly field trips we took to ancient historical sites located throughout all of Jordan were unforgettable. They gave us the opportunity to visit some of the amazing sites we learn about in class such as Petra, Jerash and the Desert Castles and experience them first hand. This experience was truly life changing and just reminds me of all the new and amazing opportunities that still lay ahead.