Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Gearing up for the season

Many of the people I talk to have a 'Hollywoodified' image of what going on an archaeological project entails. While they don't necessarily expect us to be discovering ancient treasures, fighting off villains and saving damsels in distress every day, they think of our trips abroad as basically another long holiday in the sun.

Unfortunately, whereas Indy just rocks up and starts digging / pillaging (have you ever seen him take any notes?!), I currently feel like a bureaucrat, trying to sort out flights, hotels / hovels, insurance and equipment, and chasing down errant team members (you know who you are, so if you read this get in touch ASAP!). Working in Afghanistan merely adds another layer of stress and admin.

Our lives would be much easier if the British Institute of Afghan Studies hadn't been closed down in the early 1980s. Few foreign teams worked in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation and subsequent conflicts, but the French re-opened their institute DAFA a couple of years ago. We can only envy their facilities, although they generously let us use the library and provide lunch whenever we crawl in off the dusty streets.

That's not to say we don't appreciate the support and interest that the British Embassy has shown in our work. They were one of our major sponsors in 2005 and are funding this year's seminar series in Kabul. We hope that the seminars will teach the next generation of Afghan archaeologists about the theory and practice of archaeological survey and fieldwork, non-Indy style.

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