I was with my father this weekend. That is him, the head shot you can see in the scanned collage. I’d never seen that photograph before. I now see what my mother means when using “handsome” to describe him. We discovered it as we were cleaning, tidying and re-organising the dig house. 20 years worth of field and research notes, surveying equipment, conversation materials, photographs and so on.
He is handing over the excavation to someone else. 20 years is my father’s involvement in excavating, conserving and researching Amorium. He did not get as upset as I thought he might. He seems ready to let go - most certainly of the bureaucratic headache that the Tourism and Culture Ministry are imposing on all foreign-lead excavations.
It’s not over yet. The hand over needs to be formalised. My father has a couple of years worth of research at the site before he can complete various publications. As far as I am aware, he is currently working on Volume IV: Inscriptions.
The least I could do was to ensure that the new director would be able to locate stationary with ease. You’d be surprised how important pencil sharpers become during the course of an excavation season.
“R. M. Harrison” is the archaeologist who started excavating Amorium, starting with the first survey in 1987. I uncovered some of the original survey equipment - binoculars, compasses, some kind of cartography board and ruler - mostly from World War II.
The other stamp was the old label used for small finds. I did not find anything on this visit of mine. I was hoping I would. Last time I found this piece of blue Roman glass. When I was three year old, I found a fragment of a purple Hellenistic glass vase. Ancient glass has always been important to me and my father. For different reasons.
Last week, when I was in Berlin I was directed to this great little bookshop by a lovely writer. There I brought Ivan Turgenev’s “First Love”. I read it on the flight back. The first paragraph of chapter 9 has a near perfect description and understanding of what it is to pine. To pine away. The evergreens that grow by the veranda of the dig-house had carpeted the rest of the garden with their copper coloured needles.
I couldn’t leave empty handed. So I took two fistfuls. I don’t know when I’ll see Amorium again.