Working with RAPID-K has been one of the best experiences of my life. As this is my first time participating in an archaeological project, I have learned many field techniques including pedestrian survey, shovel testing, and the categorization and organization of artifacts in a lab setting. This portion of the 2019 UMMAA Summer Field School, while focused on archaeology in the Peja and Istog regions of Kosovo, is a full anthropological experience, especially pertaining to the cultural and linguistic aspects of this field of study.
I have completed four days of pedestrian survey, two of which were in a small village filled with traditional architecture and unmatched hospitality. Never have I experienced such a sense of community and welcoming as I have in this village; my team was graciously welcomed into the homes of many Albanian families living in the village to enjoy Turkish coffee, cake, traditional desserts, and cold glasses of soda and water.
The people we met expanded our knowledge of the area and even helped us locate what we believe to be the largest tumulus, a burial mound, found in Kosovo. Archaeology requires collaboration and what better resource than the people who live and work on the land that we survey? Not only were they able to help us locate the tumulus and potential sites, but they were also able to provide me with an understanding of the culture of the region, one that I would not understand if I was just visiting on vacation. For me, it is important to use archaeology to learn about culture and also to use culture as guide for archaeology, and RAPID-K has confirmed this mentality. This project is extensive, using four pedestrian survey teams to cover a vast area, alongside a shovel testing team used to explore the extent of a site surveyed last year. The project has found artifacts from the Neolithic to modern times, identified what they believe to be a large Roman era site, and have located tumuli.
My favorite part of this project was my first day of pedestrian survey where my team found the tumulus. We documented its location and relative size before hiking up and exploring the top, where we believe there to be a looted grave. In the field next to the hypothesized tumulus, we found over 40 pieces of pottery from many different time periods, which lends credit to the belief that we found a tumulus. I am fortunate and thankful to have RAPID-K as my first field experience and cannot wait to see how the project advances in the coming field seasons.