Yesterday we began what archaeologists call “close-down”, the critical phase immediately after the end of excavation but before leaving base camp. These days are devoted to final photographs and drawing in the field, processing artifacts, checking and double-checking records, backing up data, and writing final reports. It is a hectic time but absolutely vital for the success of any field season as it is often impossible to retrieve missing data once the team leaves the site. And as if the team is not busy enough finalizing all the data collection, many other tasks must also be completed simultaneously, such as back-filling the trenches, moving equipment into storage, and paying many bills and other expenses.
Normally close-down takes several days. But this season we need to do it all in just two days because another team from Brown University is coming in to our house the day after we leave to begin their field project here at Petra. Nevertheless at the beginning of our second day things are proceeding rather smoothly and we should complete our work by tomorrow morning and be ready to leave Petra.
Tonight, Dakhalah Goblan, our host and foreman of our workmen, has generously invited us to a traditional dinner here at his house for the entire team. It should be a wonderful way to end the 2012 season.
S. Thomas Parker