Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Losing my mind...

I had a dream last night... I was helping Miles go to the bathroom on the toilet and got super excited that he actually went poop. As I was looking at the poop I noticed that it looked like the distal end of a femur and part of a mandible (jaw). I was, understandably, confused. Did Miles actually manage to eat these large bones or is it just a remarkable coincidence that my son is now pooping bone shaped number 2? I was moving in for a closer look when, thankfully, I woke up.

This dream sums up my life perfectly. Bones and toddler poop. I am losing my mind. Speaking of 'minds', I officially have a 'least favorite' bone. Ok, I'll go a head and say it, I hate it. The cranium/skull. It's kind of funny, I mean the skull is probably the most 'loved' bone. Think about all of the images of skeletons we see, it is always the cranium. Maybe its because without a head we can't really relate to a person or animal. The cranium helps it become more 'life like'. Well, I hate it.

In case you didn't know, it isn't actually just one bone, but there are actually around 22 bones that fuse together at various stages of life (why an infant's head is so soft because the different bones have not yet fused). Furthermore, these bones are very thin and, particularly if they are part of the 'brain case', are very hard to tell apart. So, what I get is 22 different bones each shattering in several pieces and it looks like this:

Trying to reconstruct the number of individuals is miserable. Granted, there are a few key bones that are good estimators, I have to at least sort through them to log cut marks, burning, etc.

Such is life. Pretty hard dissertation in the making... On the plus side (or maybe not) I'm am well over 20,000 bones now. If I were doing a 'normal' assemblage I would have probably been done 14,000 bones ago. As it stands, I think I'm somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the way through. Keep on trucking!

So ends our first month here! Two more to go. On top of everything else, I'm officially solo parenting for the month and trying to get reports written up for a company I work for in Portland. I think I'll need a vacation when this is all over with!

Monday, July 30, 2012

If this is a zoo, am I the zookeeper?

In coming up with a name for this blog, I wanted something that represented our life as a family. While there could be many words or phrases that fit the bill, nothing fully expressed how I personally feel so much as the fact that I am undoubtedly living in a zoo. Yes, the main attractions are my big lion and my little elephant, and they are exactly that. But they are wild and delving into the full fledged reality of parenthood is no less wild. However, unlike a zoo, someone took the bars off this exhibit. Perhaps, however, I'm the zookeeper and I'm in the exhibit myself. I can't seem to tell the difference.

Well, the zoo has moved to Cyprus and now we've been here for about a month. Yes, they actually have a zoo in Cyprus, so I am speaking figuratively. By now you have all been fully (or partially, because it gets really complicated) indoctrinated by Kayla into the reason that we are here. For starters, Kayla is doing her PdD research, my kids will be growing older by three months, and me....well, I'm here to oversee it all. 

Actually, I'm working remotely for my company, Fugro. How, you might ask, does someone get that gig. Well, stay with a company a good amount of time and work really hard and things tend to work out. At least they seem to, for which I am thankful. So what do I do? Well, its complicated but essentially I am in sales, marketing and business development for our offshore survey division. The market I target is geophysical and geotechnical surveying for the installation of submarine fiber optic cables. Yes, the internet, phone, data transmission as we know it globally is fed by thousands of fiber optic cables laid on the seafloor spanning thousands of kilometers across oceans. Quite strange that it is not satellite, huh? Well, that is the common perception, but satellite only counts for 1 or 2% of the total global communication. The rest is underwater. Fascinating huh? Ok, I won't bore you with details. 

So what else do I do? Well, I travel....to go to conferences, to meet clients, other meetings, etc. In the last two years I've been to Japan, China (twice), Germany, and Portugal among other (more domestic and boring) locations. In fact, this summer may be interrupted by a trip to Chile and come Monday (July 30) I will be traveling to Germany and then back to Seattle for the month of August. Yes, it is hectic...but so is having kids and a wife doing her PhD.
What? The month of August in Seattle? Yes, I will be in Seattle in August while Kayla and the kids continue on in Cyprus. But I will be back in Cyprus in September. Complicated huh. Anyway, while in Seattle I will be crashing with my very hospitable friend Ryan, I will be working and hopefully make many trips to the mountains for some climbing, and otherwise enjoying the Seattle summer. Hopefully Seattle will be having a full fledged summer by August. Oh and I'll be skyping frequently to Cyprus and otherwise also reading this blog to keep up on my family's life :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zookeeper's Log- Putting the kids to work

Well, we are coming to the end of month one. This week was a tough one… looking at the same bones over and over again is really getting tedious. On a positive note though, the kids are doing awesome. Since this is the zookeeper’s log I’ll stick to that and save my whining for next weeks blog posts.

In the past few days Ellis has really ‘grown up’. It is exciting and sad all at the same time. She is good at crawling around and can easily get into and out of sitting on her own. She has started to get super vocal again and is all around a bubbly little girl. She loves being able to crawl to grab what she wants and is beginning to cause mischief. Her two favorite things to grab are a toy bucket (which she uses to drum on, this girls got rhythm) and Miles’ binky while in his mouth. Thankfully he is fairly tolerant. She’s also becoming quite good at taking notes for me J

Miles is also quite the helper. His favorite thing is to help sort the teeth. As he says, Miles is a “good dentist guy”.  He’s become very polite after we downloaded a cartoon about manners… he thanks us so much it kind of drives me crazy. We’ve created a thank you monster. We’ve also started back up on the potty training. I made him a potty chart and finally got him to go pee in the potty today! At home I got him to go pee in the potty quite a lot but for some reason here it is scarier to him. But he did it. Three more times and he gets to pick out a new car. Pooping will be a whole other battle…

We’ve gotten both kids in the pool almost every day this week. They really like it and Miles is getting better at swimming already. I’m hoping in the next two weeks I can get him comfortable enough to swim ‘on his own’ with his float. Fingers crossed.

Oh! I almost forgot! Miles made two new friends this week... here he is trying to show you 'Henry' (the smiley face I drew on his thumb... to match my thumb face). And below you can see his best buddy he met today! Miles and him hung out for a good 30 mins before he "left to go find his mama". He loved 'giving him kisses' and chatting with him. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Thank you!

So I realize many of you might not know what we are actually doing with the kids during the days here... Originally Ryan and were both going to try to work and have the kids here on our own. By "on our own" I mean that we had this crazy idea that Ryan and Miles would stay in Seattle for the first two weeks, so Ellis and I would work here. Then they would fly out here for two weeks. Ryan would watch the kids. Then Ryan's mom and my mom would both watch the kids for a few weeks, then I would fly home with both of them. It was complicated, put a lot of stress on Ryan, myself and both of our moms.

However, we were so fortunate to receive enough money from my grandfather (with the help of one of my aunts) to budget for an au pair to come out with us. Stress lifted. These extra funds could not have come at a better time! So, we found a fantastic nanny (Kelsey) to travel with us. It is beyond a relief! I don't know how we would have managed without her. So I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who made this possible for us: my grandfather for being so generous, my aunt Krissy for dealing with a bunch of bs, my cousin Kenna who was willing to watch the dogs/cat and house for a few weeks, my mom and Ryan's mom (who both were beyond generous in volunteering their time to watch the kids over here before we were able to budget for a nanny). And to the rest of our family who have always been amazingly supportive of us and my schoolwork (Grandma, Kalimar and Krysta to name a few). Without all of your help we could not have made this trip a reality. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we are beyond grateful.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

City State of Kourion- Part 2, Kourion

It has been quite some time since my Part I post about Korion, so here is Part II, long overdue. There is so much history behind this city and I know I will butcher it if I try to recount everything that was told to me, so this will largely be a picture blog. I'll explain as much as possible as I go along.          Here is the amphitheater. It is currently outfitted for modern day concerts, plays, outdoor movies etc. This picture does not do the size and beauty of the theater justice, but it does show the amazing view of the Sea. The city of Kourion was largely a place for the wealthy to live, the theater, large baths, large square/market. It is speculated that the poor and the slaves lived outside of the city walls.

One of the main features of the City of Kourion was a later building that supposedly housed visitors and families. It has amazing mosaics on the floors... unfortunately for the individuals staying here it was located directly above the sewage runoff (it ran directly over the cliffs). I'm sure not much smelled good in these days, but this in particular was likely a smelly locale.

These mosaics were from the entrance to the baths and one of a bath itself (likely a cool bath as there is no heating floor underneath). 

 This mosaic was from a dining area... note the beautiful 3-d effect in the lower right!

Below is one of the more famous stops.... a bench. Yes folks, it does look like a very important stop on the tour but no, it is just a viewing bench. Aren't you glad you hiked all the way up that hill?

These are some ruins from an older building... if you look in the upper left of the picture you can see a slanted wall. This was likely the base of an older castle/temple/main structure and this would have been a fortifying wall. As it is now, it was incorporated into a variety of new buildings/rooms.
There are several different styles of columns located throughout Kourion. I know nothing about the styles and how they reflect the time periods they were constructed except that they do. So there.

 Here is a round hole. No, seriously, thats what it is! Likely it was a water feature of sorts. Very nice round hole though... these are the things us archaeologists appreciate.

Below is one of the largest and most impressive baths. If you remember the floor heating system I mentioned before, here you can see how thick that heating floor was.

The last photo is one of the few cobble mosaics.

This mosaic is from the house of the gladiators. There likely was no 'gladiating' on Cyprus, but often gladiators would spend time training away from the games. This could have been a training headquarters. It was located between the main city and the stadium (more on that in Part 3!).

And last but not least, the church. Kourion was one of the last places on the island to convert to Christianity. It didn't convert until after a major earthquake in which the city lost its water supply, most of its population and was therefore easy to conquer. 
*Side note, there is a beautiful exhibit at the museum I work at of skeletons preserved from roof fall during the earthquake. Its a man embracing a woman who is embracing a child (~1yrs old). Amazing.

Other notes from the day:

-It rained! Such a nice surprise.
- I wrote this blog sitting across from "The Edge" from U2. Pretty cool and props to Ryan for knowing who he was and recognizing him! (Guitarist for those of you who are U2 illiterate like myself).

Monday, July 23, 2012


It has been quite hot here the past few days so instead of taking the kids to see more ruins we decided to try to cool off at the island's water park. I never thought I'd make it over there... after all we have our own pool and are less than 5 mins from the beach. Why would we ever need/want a water park? But off we went.

At 29 euro a pop (kids free) it was quite the investment. I was also skeptical of the quality. I've seen some not so great water parks. However, I was pleasantly surprised! It was super awesome! Ryan and I got there and were immediately happy about our decision... large water slides of every kind imaginable, inner-tube rides, a huge 'interactive' pool with all sorts of water features, dumping buckets etc., lazy river. It was awesome. We tried to head to the interactive pool and Miles was not having any of it. Bummer. No water slides for us :(

Off to the kiddie pool we went. Out of this huge awesome water park we were relegated to a small pond feature with an elephant 'slide' and some baby swings. Boo. Such is the life with a timid two year old. On the plus side, Miles loved the elephant slide and Ellis had the time of her life in the dolphin swing/jumper.

I finally got Miles to venture into the lazy river area and touch some waterfalls (major accomplishment). He loved sitting in the inner tube but didn't want to float in it. Baby steps.

They also had awesome food areas. Ellis stuffed as much watermelon in her mouth as she possibly could.

They really cater to adults here also. While your kids are off playing in the water you can get a massage, pedicure/manicure, eat at one of three fancy restaurants. It was all rather impressive. Once we have kids we don't have to monitor at every minute this kind of outing will be infinitely nicer!

All in all it was a good day. I can see myself going back if the heat gets too rough again.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Zoo Keeper's Log- Mommy Fail

Miles playing cars in the village

Well, this week ended on kind of a rough note. Ellis fell off the bed yesterday, head first onto the tile. Perhaps my worst mom fail yet. Thankfully the beds are really just box spring and mattress on the floor, so the fall was short, but something I could have lived without experiencing. Most frustrating because it was something I’ve been so overly cautious about since arriving here. Such is life. I guess I should mention she is fine. Well, as far as we can tell. She’s also been working on cutting a few more teeth and has been an angry little beast for the past few days… so not like her. We can still get her to give us her adorable smile, but the poor girl is hurting. Early life is rough.

How this is comfortable I will never know.

Miles, on the other hand, is back to his super awesome self. His vocab is beyond good these days and his imagination is taking off. He has started to tell stories that are quite complex. He refers to himself as “Mr. Miles”, the way I always refer to him when I tell him bedtime stories (and Ellis is Miss Ellis)… this is often the only tip off I have that he has started telling me a fictional story. They usually consist of a jumble of stories I’ve told him, shows he’s watched and the most random things pulled out of no where. He really is a funny kid.

My two favorite “Milesisms” of the week both happened today… I was asking him if he wanted to wear his Lightening McQueen shorts or gray shorts to bed. Two phrases he’s picked up from me are “tough choice” or “hard choice”. Tonight he said “Tough hard”, stopped and looked a little puzzled like he didn’t like the way it sounded then changed it to “tough and hard choice”. Wow kid, you are growing up too fast! But the best Milesism by far was this conversation:

Miles trying to give the peace sign
(Rach and Kylie, note the shirt...
yes, Ryan has a matching one)
Me: Miles, is a Stegasaurus an herbivore, omnivore or carnivore?

Miles: Omnivore! (I have no idea if he is right, but he seemed pretty certain so I’ll take his word on it)

Me: Are you an herbivore, omnivore or carnivore?

Miles: Ummm… carnivore!

Me: Well you do eat meat… do you eat plants too? Remember, herbivores eat plants, carnivores eat meat and omnivores eat both.

Miles: I eat vegetables. I like vegetables!

Me: You do eat vegetables… you also eat hotdog which is meat (kind of?). So, what does that make you?

Miles: Happy!

 Well, I guess I can’t argue with him there.

We’ve also been using the pool a lot more lately. I finally found out Miles was scared of the pool after our first swim session (day 1). I think its because there is no where he can touch the bottom. So, I finally told him that if he didn’t get in the pool people would come take it away. He believed me, so in he went. He loved it! Rather than worrying about him floating on his own with his float I just held him the entire time and he really had fun. He’s been getting in frequently since then…

You can tell I wasn’t home for this picture because I am crazy anal about not having the kids in the sun too much (I’m assuming he has on sunscreen… ask anyone, I am the sunscreen Nazi). But he was having a good time in the pool so that is good enough for me. Unfortunately, Kelsey (our nanny) had him try to float again today on his own (the same mistake I made during day 1) and now he is afraid again. Don’t worry, we’ll get back in before the men come take the pool away.

Play time before bed!
Ellis loves the pool still. She loves splashing and ‘swimming’. Today Ryan and I had her in and she was face planting on purpose! I’ve never seen a baby willingly stick their whole face in the water and keep pulling away for me to do it. She’d look shocked every time, but I think because Ryan and I were laughing she thought it would be a good idea to keep it up. I’m guessing she was taking notes when I was trying to show Miles how to blow bubbles and that’s what she was attempting… or she was thirsty. Either way, it was hilarious.

I believe that is all for this week. We are heading to a water park tomorrow so hopefully everyone has a good time. The kids are doing awesome with the heat… if it bothers them I can’t tell. So adaptable these little ones!

And Happy 1st Birthday to my totally awesome and handsome little nephew, Carter!!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Visitors Welcome!

As you may have guessed from previous posts, Ryan's mom and sister (Kathy and Paige) were here visiting for 8 days! They left early this morning on the long journey back home to the west coast, but it was so nice seeing familiar faces out here. Makes you feel like you are not that far from home :)

I think the heat took its toll on our travelers, but really there is no way to prepare for this kind of 'weather'. It is hot and not all that enjoyable (particularly when you are used to the mild Seattle summers). But they were good sports and let Ryan and I take them out in the sun at least a few times! Even more impressive, they both slept in the loft which has no air conditioning! Talk about troopers.

Miles and Ellis had so much fun playing with them for such a long stay. I don't think even Miles has had the opportunity to hang out with Grandma for that long of a period before. I loved hearing Miles and Aunty Paige singing 'dinosaur train' in the back room and playing freeze dance. And seeing Miles and Grandma cuddling up and doing stories on the iPad. Of course Ellis stole both of their hearts, as she has a way of doing that. She absolutely loved flirting with Grandma and Paige.

Kathy and Paige were able to travel a bit in France before coming over to the island. Its so great to see a  mother and daughter enjoy each other's company so much and have such a great time even through stressful conditions (as all travel can be trying at times). It reminded me of traveling with my mom (which I don't do nearly enough of) and is such an amazing example of the relationship I hope to have with Ellis when she grows up (and Miles too, of course).

After more than two weeks away from home I think they were both ready to return to familiar faces and places. We can't thank them enough for coming all the way out here to visit!

PS Miles keeps talking about the next time he is going to play/swim/etc with Aunty Paige and Grandma!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City State of Kourion: Part I, Temple of Apollo

Today was a long, hot one! Seven hours in over 100 degree F weather. We were fortunate enough to have our own personal tour guide through some of the large archaeological sites… When I was out here three years ago I met one of the nicest individuals ever, Frank. He is technically retired British military, but archaeology has become his passion. As a result, he’s started an archaeological society on the RAF base (where my site is) and assists with all major excavations on the island. He is fantastic! He very generously volunteered to take Kathy, Paige, Ryan and I out to the Temple of Apollo, the stadium and the city state of Kourion. It was quite an extensive visit, full of information, so I will break it up into at least two posts.  Maybe three.

Our first stop was the temple of Apollo. It was an extensive temple that was originally built for the cult that worshiped ‘trees’… Tree huggers, as Frank referred to them. Over time it was converted to the temple of Apollo (as the religion was converted). There were three consecutive temples built through the lifespan of the site. Frank took us through as though we were visiting the temple ourselves.

Here is one of the lodging areas. People would walk to the temple (all temples are spaced a days walk away from each other), stay in one of these apartments with the animals and the slaves on the bottom and their sleeping quarters would have been located above.

You then have the plaza area where vendors would sell idols that one could leave at the alter as you approached the temple itself. The standing pillars are a partial reconstruction of the most recent of the three alters/temples. All temples were built next to each other as opposed to on top… just in case building on top of an old temple would make the gods angry J

The reconstruction has a few of the original stones in it, but is largely based on designs that were popular at the time in other locations...

Finally, at the far end of the temple you have the baths. The Romans loved their baths. They would douse themselves in olive oil and then scrape it off. In the picture you see the large stacks of thin brick. These would have been underneath the flooring and the water/baths would have been directly above. The would keep large fires burning that would heat the air underneath the baths, keep it circulating and warm all of the water.

 I should note that there are no water sources near the site, and the water is all piped in from the mountains via small clay pipes built up on wooden supports. Would have been amazing to see those structures crossing the valleys!

Pretty remarkable site to walk around and experience.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lovely Lefkara Lace

One of the few crafts that the island of Cyprus is known for is its beautiful Lefkaritika, or Lefkara embroidered lace. Lefkara is a beautiful old village located on a hillside with winding cobble stone walkways. Ryan's mom and sister have been in town for the week so we decided to take a trip out to see the handiwork of the Lefkara villagers. Of course I walked away with a few choice pieces... here is the story behind the Lefkara Lace.

During the Byzantine empire, and shortly after the crusades, Cyprus became a hub for beautiful embroidered textiles. The center for this craft was Lefkara. Lefkara lace is always made in two colors, either the white or brown . The technique of lace embroidery has remained virtually unchanged since a period of Venetian occupation (early 1500s). There are two decorative styles, the Byzantine style which is by far the older of the two, seen in white here. The second is the "Leonardo DaVinci" style (seen in brown here). This was adopted when DaVinci visited Lefkara and brought back a piece of lace for the alter in Milan Cathedral. Each of the triangles depict a different story as a pair. 

The traditional craft is passed down from mother to daughter. The craftsmanship is absolutely stunning.

After shopping for our lace pieces we did a quick jaunt through the village. There were no people on the streets because it, apparently, is an abnormally hot day for July (good to know the locals think its hot too!). The streets are beautiful, infinitely easier to get lost in than the streets of Venice. Beautiful sweeping views... this is the view from about halfway down the hill of the hillside town looking at the newer lower Lefkara.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bad apple... go with the berries.

Three months is a long time to live anywhere, so we needed a phone. There are two convenient options, buy a cheapo phone (30 euro or so) and prepay for minutes, so no plans. This was our initial plan, but we've been having difficulty finding a place to get a phone at. Other option is to buy a SIM card and put it in your own phone. Awesome! That is for sure what we will do... then I could keep using my iPhone.

Ya, no. This is the first time since owning the iPhone where I have been jealous of Ryan's blackberry. As you can see from the picture, the iPhone SIM card is significantly smaller than the SIM card we purchased. Note, the SIM card we purchased fit perfectly in Ryan's phone and even worked. You may have also noticed the knife in the picture... this is my great idea on how to manhandle a SIM card to make it work in my iPhone.

One may ask, "why bother? Just use Ryan's phone." Great point. However, Ryan will be leaving us for at least four weeks in which case we'd have to go buy another anyways. Also, Ryan gets service here (granted its expensive), so if we have another phone then we can actually communicate in an emergency. So, I decided to hack away at the big SIM card. 

The knife... well, we don't have any scissors in this house. Nail clippers wouldn't give me the straight lines I needed, so dull knives it is. I sawed away at this thing for a good 30-40 mins (see action shot). I think I did a pretty stellar job for eyeballing it with two dull knives, one of which was too large and unwieldy and the other a serrated steak knife. I thought I had achieved success until I put in in the little SIM card holder and a small sliver of the chip was covered. Bust. I think I blew it :( 
Turned it on anyways and tried it out. At first, success! The SIM card was locked (as it was supposed to be) and my provided password worked! One bar of service... not much but hooray! Tried to dial my mom... Call Failed. Wah wah. (even though the finished product looks pretty good, in my opinion)

But after a few minor adjustments... 

Still no luck. So, the hunt for a phone continues. Although I'm tempting to give the SIM card another shot and buy some scissors...

*Update, we did buy a phone and all is well. I was told we could go to Limassol to get a SIM card stamped for an iPhone, but after 2hrs of being lost in Limassol in 1 square mile (more to come on that story), I'll pass.  :) 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Zookeeper's Log: Rats!

You may or may not have noticed that our blog has been 'down' for the past few days. Sadly our internet connection at the house was dropped. We finally figured out it was because a rat had chewed through the antenna wire. Worse still, the antenna is on top of the roof of an individual who is currently in the UK. After receiving permission to enter the property, the internet cafe owner (and the hub for all wireless connections) ended up being trapped in the village for another day because they paved the road in/out. So there you have it. A week lost (as far as the blog is concerned). Don't you worry, I have many new stories and adventures to share, however today is Friday and therefore the Zookeeper's Log/ kid update. So enjoy the Miles/Ellis stories for now and look forward to some awesome new adventures next week :)

For the most part, the kids are doing awesome. Miles is having a rough time with me working so much, well and he is a 2 yr old. I'm not going to dwell on the tantrums and time out marathons in this post... I'm trying to block as much of that from my memory as possible. Instead, I'll just share that today Miles and Ellis had their first real play session together.

For the most part, Miles has always ignored Ellis. He has never wanted to hold her or play with her etc. Today after dinner I stripped her down to get pj's on and instead let her just roll around with Miles on his bed. They were both in heaven. Miles loved pushing her and rolling her over. She just loved that big brother was finally paying attention to her. She would giggle when he tickled her (if you know her, she rarely giggles for anything) and they spent a long time just laughing and grabbing at each other's faces. Another favorite of the night was Miles bouncing circles around Ellis singing "She'll be commin' round the mountain when she comes. Riding six white horses when she comes!" So cute. I wish I would have had my phone on me to take pictures and/or video, but alas it was in the other room and I know if I were to leave them for a minute someone would end up hurting the other and the magic would end. I have no doubt it will happen again soon though, so stay posted :)

Now that I think about it, Miles has been slowly becoming more of an Ellis fan all week. Earlier in the week he said "I love sister. She's a cute baby," while eating breakfast. Later, I asked Miles who his best friend was, assuming he'd say Augie (Audrey), Kadence, Mila, any of his many girlfriends. Instead he just said "sister!". That is pretty adorable.

Ellis, while still not crawling, is getting too strong for her own good and is starting to experiment. Here she is lifting the table with her legs... and yes, she actually was lifting it and letting it bang back down. She was pretty proud of her self. (Meg... note the blanket! Tell your mom thanks again :) )

Miles has also taken a fancy to using the digital camera. He's actually pretty good! I'm now in the market for a good kid's camera. Let me know if you have any suggestions!

I think that is all for now... short and quick. Oh, there is one more thing. Mr. Miles has perfected his forward roll. Here is a video for you to enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Palaipaphos (Kouklia)

Ryan and I have decided that every Saturday we are going to try to get out to see one of the many archaeological and/or historical sites on the island. Cyprus truly has an amazing history and prehistory. It’s location has made it a transition point for many different cultures and groups. While my work is on the earliest group(s), most people are more interested in the later Roman, Greek and Medieval periods. Many sites around the island have been occupied for thousands of years by multiple groups.

Our first stop was one such location: Palaipaphos in the modern town of Kouklia. We picked it mainly because it was the closest to where we are at (we were still a little daunted from the previous weekends travels), and I had been there before and knew it was awesome. In fact, the last time I was here I stayed in the Medieval home for a few nights while assisting with lithic analysis. That may all sound glamorous, but I assure you it was not. First of all, by ‘assisting’ I mean writing numbers that were called out for over 5k chipped stone flakes. I rarely even looked at them myself. Secondly, the medieval accommodations were definitely not a five star hotel. I was there with a fellow grad student (from UNLV), and at night we would just keep the lights off and cover as much of us as we could with our sheets… it was better we didn’t see what kind of bugs were crawling around our room and/or on us. (Yes, Katie, I know you miss it too…)

But I digress… the site was a good warm up. Its linked to "an ancient cult that worshipped the Great Goddess" since the Neolithic. In the early 12th century the Myceneans settled the island and erected an alter to honor the local goddess of fertility. It continued to be a central and important location through out the classical period and into the Roman period. During the Roman period it was the center for religious/cult control and the central location for all bronze coinage. All religious activities halted around the 4th century A.D. when christianity spread through the island, however the alter to Aphrodite is still located here and every year during the solstice a large ritual where people from all over the world come to participate. This sanctuary of Aphrodite is the very one mentioned by Homer! 

The medieval house was built in the 12th century A.D. and was a central location for dealing with sugar plantations that were taking hold.

Back to our trip... Despite the heat and mama forgetting to pack snacks (mom fail), we only had one toddler meltdown. Miles wanted to climb up the rocks but I’m pretty sure we would get kicked out as it was part of the excavation site. He loved it all though… here is my little archaeologist.

Just last night he told us again how much he liked the ‘museum’. Good, we have plenty more where that came from!

Miles' version of "but it fits so nicely in my hand!"
Other random thoughts/experiences from the day:

1.     Chocolate milk is a bad idea in this heat.
2.     Overheard two British kids singing “Twinkle Twinkle” but instead it went something like: Twinkle twinkle, chocolate bar, by dad drives a fucking car”… after listening to them repeat it a few times I determined they were, in fact, saying “rusty” car. I think. I’m still not convinced. Weird none the less.
3.     The best way to start the day is a swim in the Sea. Before it gets too hot and before the crazy topless overweight lobsters show up… er, I mean tourists. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where are we!? How did we end up here?

I realized that while most people are enjoying our blog about our random adventures, many of you don’t know why we actually came to Cyprus for such an extended stay, other than it has to do with my “pretty hard dissertation” (as Ryan likes to call it). Its also a possibility as my days begin to be filled with less new and exciting adventures and more tedious work that my writing may shift, at least periodically, to dissertation related woes/accomplishments/what have you. So here it goes… a quick and dirty frame of reference.

I’m working towards my PhD in archaeology and the University of Washington. My ‘specialty’ is in zooarchaeology. Essentially what that means is I look at the animal parts (faunal remains) at archaeological sites and/or paleontological sites that may have been impacted by humans in the past indirectly (like looking for changing population sizes or locations that may have been the result of human hunting etc). For my dissertation I will be doing some traditional zooarchy stuff (like relative skeletal abundance, demography, looking for cutmarks etc) of which I won’t bog you down with the details of right now. I’ll ease you all into that J I will also be trying to apply some ancient DNA techniques to estimate population dynamics (size change for example) through time. Still with me? Its at this point where I’m not sure if people are extremely bored and just hear “wah wah wah” when I talk or if they think its super exciting. I’ll assume it’s the later and continue…

So my dissertation work, and the reason why we are all in Cyprus, is based on an extinct species of pygmy hippo. While I don’t know for sure (as they went extinct around 10,000 years ago) I am certain they were the cutest things ever. Here is a picture of the only extant (living) species of pygmy hippo for reference:

This little guy is from west Africa and is not very closely related to my species, but size is roughly the same (adults are the size of large pigs) and they are both hippos so… close enough. And it proves my point that they were freakin’ adorable.

So there is a site on the island of Cyprus, at the tip of the Akrotiri Peninsula. Its called Akrotiri Aetokremnos. This site is the oldest archaeological site on the island and potentially the oldest site in all of the Mediterranean (so the first indisputable evidence of human beings on the islands). Pretty cool stuff. It is also the last site where these hippos are found. Before this site the hippos are all over the island in paleontological sites (there were also pygmy elephants!). Because of this relationship, some archaeologists argue that humans hunted this species to extinction and are the cause for their disappearance. It gets pretty complicated at this point because just as many people argue that they could have gone out because of climate change, loss of resources etc. I won't get into the details here, but the point is that it is a big debate and hovers right around a 50/50 split among archaeologists. 

So why the arguments? I think one main reason is no one has done a detailed analysis of the hippo bones! Its hard to say what happened to the animals without really looking at them. There have been a few smaller studies done looking at samples of the assemblage but nothing comprehensive enough to paint the full picture. Well, thats just silly! Why not? I'll tell you why not... there are over 220,000 hippo bones. Yes, 220,000. I'm going to give you a minute to let that sink in. 

If I walked heel toe along the equator, after 220,000 steps I would have circled the globe over twice. Ok... I'll give you a minute to let that one sink in too.

So that, my friends, is why no one has done it yet. Being the crazy person I am, I figured why the heck not. So here we are. I am going to do my best to get through as many of those bones in the next three months as possible.

So, while this trip and travel may seem glamorous at times, just remember that most of my days (and nights) are spent doing the most tedious things ever... like looking and 1 inch fragments of a bone and trying to figure out what it is and where it goes. x220,000.