Happy birthday to us
Happy birthday to us
Happy birthday dear ArchaeoBlog
Happy birthday to us
Hard to believe that this vast repository of knowledge has only been in existence for a single solar cycle (it's true, we checked it against various ancient texts and solar monuments). Even more amazing, the whole thing has not degenerated into serial postings of pictures and descriptions of cats, even while one of the little vermin is at this moment throwing various items off of the very desk at which this is being typed in a desperate bid for attention.
Forthwith, here is the introduction to our very first post:
Welcome to ArchaeoBlog, the source for news and views on the world
of archaeology. We here at ArchaeoBlog are dedicated to providing you, the
reader, with timely and entertaining links and commentary on all things
old and covered in dirt. Our crack team of researchers, analysts, writers,
photographers and copy editors travel the virtual world (and sometimes the
real one) to bring you the best that the Web has to offer. We employ
literally one person to do the massive amount of work necessary to inform
and amuse the Web readership.
The information here covers the range of archaeological inquiry, from gold
and silver to even more fascinating things such as sloth dung. Needless to
say. We try our darndest to make it all sound fascinating, but really,
there's only so much one can do with sloth dung (writing about it anyway,
in a manner that will not cause sudden bouts of intense narcolepsy).
Nevertheless, we will try to cover a wide range of topics, all more or
less suitable for family viewing.
Come to think of it, we're not sure sloth dung has ever come up, disregarding our specific mentions of it here. We will certainly try to rectify that in future, it being such a vital aspect of archaeological inquiry and all.
Now, besides the wide range of comestibles and alcoholic concoctions with which we plan to celebrate this auspicious occasion later on, we here at ArchaeoBlog do, in fact, have a certain sense of humor (usually rather morbid and/or decidely crude) especially where it involves some aspect of archaeology coupled with the suffering of professionals in the field -- especially when it's not one of us -- and thus we have decided to fulfill our mission laid out above and to bring to you, our esteemed readers, a bit of actual archaeological humor derived from the vast archives of documentary material maintained by ArchaeoBlog and in the process create one of the longest run-on sentences ever to bless a blog.
Everyone in The Business knows the hazards of fieldwork. From bad food, bad water, lack of minimal creature comforts, and various forms of parasitic organisms bent on wreaking havoc on our mortal GI tracts, most of us have experienced them at one time of other. Sometimes several. This is never so fully realized than in those parts of the world that have yet to taste the wonders of modern high-technology capitalist living. But then, that's usually where all the good stuff is, so we make do. Stories of suffering in lonely ignominy are usually told either seated around campfires or, more commonly, seated around small tables in the local bar and tend to only distribute themselves among the close-knit archaeological communities in which they occur. But now, thanks to the Internet, we may air our dirty, soiled laundry (see GI distress above) for all the world to see.
The following letter came into our possession during a bit of sorting through of some archival material pursuant to curating the collections of a recently retired colleague into the local museum. We aren’t usually in the habit of parsing through personal mail (unless it looks really juicy) but since this seemed to be directly associated both spatially and contextually with documentary material of some import, we decided to have a quick look. We were so impressed by the quality of the writing and how it so precisely conveyed the author’s immense distress throughout the ordeal, we just had to transcribe it and put it up here. We have changed all of the names in order to maintain some anonymity, though those directly involved will no doubt be immediately cognizant of the situation and the primary players involved. It needs no further introduction, but rest assured it is the genuine article and will no doubt go down in history as one of the great field stories of our time. Enjoy.
July 28, 1981
Dear Helen, Linda, Judy, Laura, Lisa’s Replacement, Prof. J.C. Adams – whom I hold personally responsible for exerting professional pressures such that I felt compelled to get grants that brought me back to this blazing lazaretto – and other members of the staff:
This will have to be brief, as every one of the twelve stitches in my abdomen vibrates with each key I strike; also, the only good bit of advice the quacks who masquerade as my medical advisors have given me is to drink lots of beer, so by this time of the day I tend to lose the top 30 or 40 points of my I.Q.
A full account of my recent adventures must await my return in January. I have reduced this account to only 3 or 4 speaking parts and I need only a few scenery changes to get across most of the drama. But as I know you all spend much of each day in earnest concern about my life and times, I’ll sketch a few recent details.
Dan Andrews woke me at 3:45 A.M., July 18th, as usual, so that we could start the generator, preparatory to another day’s work. Also as usual, after starting the generator I sought out a palm tree, which I had arbitrarily designated the Men’s Room, in order to return to Mother Egypt some of the liquids – the few liquids – left in my body after a night of sweating like a pig – to use my own neat metaphor. In the midst of these functions – familiar to you all in basic outline, if not in exact form – I experienced symptoms that my extensive medical knowledge, gained mainly from nurses and Marine Corps training films, led me inexorably to the conclusion that I had, overnight, developed second stage gonorrhea, or, alternatively, that my right kidney, ureter, and associated membra had caught fire.
I asked Mary Daley for some sort of urinary Drano, but she said that infections in this area were so rare in males that I should content myself with drinking lots of fluids. Our cook does nothing with solids or liquids that I can bear to describe, semi-nauseated as I still am, so I pumped in a lot of water and strode out to face the day. An argument had developed between Abdul Mohammed and our Egyptian (woman) inspector, such that I reluctantly had to stuff Abdul in the truck and head off on the 3 hour trip to Cairo, in order to straighten out the jurisdictional dispute. Abdul and I did the Nature of Cultural Process for about an hour on the road, when rather suddenly someone passed a white-hot coat hanger through my entire right urinary tract. Quickly reaffirming my belief in the Complete Calvinist canon, I lay on the steel bench in the back of the truck, told Abdul to try to find a Jewish doctor, and started exploring my body for my carotid artery – rumored to be near the throat – so that I could strangle myself to death if the pain returned. By the time we reached Cairo I had recovered to the extent that I did not want to die until I had one more dry martini. But a few minutes after arriving at the houseboat that serves as my principal residence in Cairo, the pain was returning to the point that I was exploring my Swiss Army knife for an edge sufficient for an abdomenectomy. Officials of **** got me into a taxi to go to the hospital, one of which was thought to be about 5 minutes away. There was a traffic jam, which I freely cursed at the time, but which probably saved my life, since when I got to the hospital the staff proved to know about as much about medicine as my cats. The basic idea here is that if you have pain below your waist, it’s probably a sprained ankle, but if it’s above your waist, or around your waist, it’s appendicitis. Drawing on an old Reader’s Digest article, I told the doctor that my lack of a fever and vomiting argued a kidney stone, but he just affected an Arabic accent and called for Sodium Pentothal. When I woke up I had no appendix, an absolute Christ-like gash in my side, and a real major-league pain in exactly the same place. Three opium-derivatives and a lot of hours later they began to think in terms of a kidney infection and began antibiotics – but only after Mary and Vicky had screamed at them. Finally, after 5 days in with those killers, Mary and Vicky unilaterally decided I was better off anywhere else and moved me to the apartment I’m now recuperating in. Subsequent medical exams show a large right kidney cyst, the infection of which was probably the cause of my problems. Jeanette Lynn Sager, my cherished co-director, and one of the great women of our generation, was offered my appendix for sale (c. 7 dollars) by the lab technician at the hospital. Absolute truth, I swear. She beat him down to about 1.40, but the clown never gave it to her.
So, I sit here in Cairo, ready to resume work in about a week. Vicky has been taking such good care of me that I’d probably have another appendix out, if I had one, just to stay here in air-conditioned comfort, but we have only 4 more months left to solve the once and for all the mysteries of Early Egyptian Agriculture.
Some news briefs: 1) the money from Susan arrived today – thank you, God Bless you, we’ll receipt this one down to the piaster; I can see them at accounting now: 1.40 for an appendix? 2) Did the galleys of my review for AM ANT ever arrive, Judy? And what about my cats? We loved your last letter and assume that by now Stan is bonding all over the place. 3) I received copies of the paper someone typed (which I have not finished) – thanks, I’ll see that appropriate presents are delivered – perhaps my appendix in a block of lucite; 4) Elizabeth Stock at AM ANTH wrote to me asking if I could review R. McC Adam’s book – if there are any letters about this please forward them, as I’m desperate to have the chance to do this and I have no confirmation that my letters to her have got through. 5) All is going well with the project; it’s going to be a 1-2 year thing to put it all together, but I think we’re doing extremely well, especially Fred Lyman, Dan Andrews, Mary Daley, and Janice. They have all been sick but disciplined and a pleasure to work with. Fred keeps tapping his field boots together three times and saying “Auntie Em, Auntie Em, I want to come home” but the man goes through the Bazaar like a devouring flame. 7) I received Dr. Adams’ letter concerning B. O’Donnell Johnson, and agree with his resolution of this.
I’ll try to write more frequently and individually in the future, but there has not been a whole lot of free time. But, as I said to Dan Andrews just before my kidney flamed out, “there ain’t nothing but good times ahead.”