Uxue has worked with the Olynthos Project since its beginning in 2014. Here she describes a typical day on the project.
A normal day at the Olynthos excavation begins at 6am, when everybody starts making their way to site. It takes 15 minutes to get from Nea Olynthos, the modern village we stay at, to the site. Then there is another 20-minute walk uphill to get to the trenches. Arriving at sunrise is never too demanding, really, perhaps because the view is outstanding. And the hike is also a great warm-up for the six hours of digging we have ahead!
Of course, we do not excavate for six hours straight. We have one break in the morning underneath a very conveniently placed olive tree. The digging moves fast, so work is quite intense, but it also means that we get to find lots of exciting things in a very short period of time. In 2015, all the trenches were arranged in a grid plan. The best thing about this was that each trench roughly corresponded to a different room, so we had people digging the colonnade, the kitchen, the bathroom and the back alley between two houses. You could see at a glance what other people were excavating and how different finds were in each trench! It was incredibly interesting to compare trenches and you really got to understand how to identify the use of each room by the finds and features uncovered in each one.
However, one of the greatest things of the project is that you are not just confined to one job. Digging is obviously the main task, but there are also opportunities to do field survey, pottery classification, flotation, heavy fraction and even archaeological drawing on site. Especially if you are staying more than four weeks, a bit of variety is always welcomed!
We pack up and make our way downhill to the apotheke (the workroom) to have lunch at around one. During lunch we have a daily catching up where the supervisor of each trench and the experts working below the hill in the workroom summarize the highlights of the day. This means everybody knows what is going on in the project, which makes you feel very involved with every aspect of it. Lunch is always followed by washing pottery, another great opportunity to see what sorts of things other trenches have been yielding. Plus washing pottery in the shade is a very welcome activity in hot summer afternoons.
The sooner we finish washing pottery, the sooner we make our way back to the village. We have the afternoons off and if you are lucky enough (which was nearly every day last summer) you might get a ride to the beach. It is a privilege, to say the least, being just five minutes away by car from two amazing beaches. Reluctantly we leave the beach just before dinner, to which we normally arrive sandy and covered in sea salt. Dinner is at a local taverna and the entire project gets together for it. Full and happy after a very tasty traditional Greek meal, we split up. Some people go rest, others stay chatting in the taverna, while others go to the local hotel to have a drink. Then an early night is in order so we can be prepared for the next day!