Wednesday, July 13, 2011


So it's been more than two weeks since my last post.  I've decided I should keep up to date on the happenings here in Romania.

I'm working at a Roman military fort that was one of five major sites along the limes, the border.  Porolissum was officially established in 106 CE by the Roman emperor Trajan after his conquest of the Dacians.  It was abandoned around 270, when Emperor Aurelian decided to shrink the Empire as a defense.  We are excavating what we believe to be part of the forum, but we change our minds based on the evidence we excavate.  It has been so wonderful so far, and I will be sad to leave, but we've got quite a bit more digging to do and I am going to try to come back next summer and then again in the fall.

The field crew has uncovered quite a bit since we’ve been here.  We’ve now got 5 trenches open, and possibly a sixth is coming later, but since we’ve only got 2.5 weeks left, who knows.  So far in my two trenches, I’ve found bones (joints, long bones, ribs, jaws, large animals, small animals, teeth, and claws), pottery (plates, including one with a serpent design, and other vessels), some shells, glass fragments, and some iron.  It is possible that there was a hypocaust (heating) system where we are digging now, and we’ve uncovered several tiles that fit the description.  In addition to that, we’ve uncovered several stamped tiles that reveal the identity of the auxiliary cohors that were there, such as soldiers from Gaul, Spain, Thrace, and even one from Britannia.  Other impressions include dog prints, finger prints (some of which you can see the lines), and what we think might be a foot print.  It is so incredible to trace your fingers around an ancient Daco-Roman’s fingerprint, or place your hand where their dog stepped into the wet clay.  It is so cool.   

We have a pet sheep called Pepe who rides in a car with his owner, Giţa, and sometimes in the trunk. Giţa's dog, Puppy, runs alongside the car and eats leftovers and basically everything else. They live in the nearby town of Moigrad, which is the location of the local bar and on the way to the city of Zalau, where we all go when we need internet or food.  Romanian workers from the area help us with excavating, and they are mostly teenagers and they teach us words.  We’ve learned quite a bit, things like numbers, colors, and useful phrases, in addition to phrases that are not so useful but rather bad but entertaining nonetheless.  We work Monday through Friday from 8 to 5 with a one hour lunch break at noon.  A local woman cooks lunch and dinner for us and the food is delicious. Pork is usually on the menu, along with cabbage, rice, or potatoes.  After excavating, dinner isn’t until 7 or so, so we mostly just chill.  We don’t have much water because it has to be pumped in, and we only light our fire (our water heater) every  other day, so we shower on days that the fire is lit and chill on the others. There is drinking going on, of course, but I’m not much of a drinker, so I sit there and chat.

For the first few days, it was so cold, and so rainy, and we were miserable.  The weather in Romania is very much like the northern United States and Canada, so bring warm clothes if you visit.  Apart from rain and cold, it’s hot, but it’s not quite as humid as the Midwest in the States, at least where we are.  I visited Sighişoara this past weekend and it was fairly humid there.  On days where it is either too rainy or too hot, we wash artifacts (in the same buckets where we wash our clothes).  On a few occasions, our site director has given lectures on archaeological methods and such. 

It has been fantastic here so far.  There have been a few episodes involving the intoxication of some of our crew, but afterwards it makes for great laughs and gossip.  We’ve got 2.5 weeks left, and they will fly. 

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