When traveling there are common medical conditions one might suffer from, such as your average travelers diarrhea, Jet-Lag, and/or culture shock. These aliments can have harsh consequences, or cause awkward moments when socializing. When out on an archaeological dig in the Middle-East there are a whole new set of medical maladies one has to look out for. The following is a list of current, and past aliments that I have suffered so far on my dig. There may be some grosser descriptions in this post, but don’t worry, because I will refrain from describing the consistency of my…new archaeology word alert… unfossilized coprolite.
Blisters: Soooo many blisters on every part of my body, especially my fingers. I have been wearing work gloves, but after what seems like the tenth billion pick-ax strike, no work glove can protect the hands of a mere academic.
Weird Ear Wax: I had no idea, and be warned this does have some gross-out factor, how weird my ear wax has become. I’m not sure if it is from the sun’s heat, or the Israeli air, but my ear wax has become clear, almost transparent. At first I was extremely freaked out but I haven’t died yet, so I think I will be O.k.
Goofa Back: A Goofa is the word used for the baskets we use on the dig site to move dirt from the pits, to the sifting stations. The baskets are made out of old tires, and can handle a surprising amount of dirt. Which when lift improperly, cause the very common aliment: Goofa Back.
Fat Finger: I am still a little confused about how this finger aliment is caused, but I can describe the symptoms, and my hypotheses. Fat Finger is a hand problem, that causes ones hands, specifically ones fingers, to feel to fat for the skin. Almost as if there is too much fluid or muscle in the hands. It is semi-unpleasant, but after about two days of not digging intensively, ones hands should return to normal.
Dirt Boogers: This may have been the biggest shock, and a hot topic of conversation around the tent at the dig site. The processes of digging, troweling, and sifting, have a tendency to kick up a large amounts of dirt, which then becomes air-born, and travels into ones nose. This prehistoric, biblical period refuse then combines with the dehydrated snot in ones nose, creating, a half organic matter, half ancient biblical period, hard crusty dark brown, earthy booger. You are literally becoming one with history, and it is pretty wild.
I hope these medical maladies can help you, the reader, better prepare for future digs, and the pitfalls you might run into. Dirty fingernails, and sweaty-mud caked on your face, can be cleaned, and soft stool will pass, but the experience never will. Which is why though my aliments will slow me down, I will transcend these minor disabilities to truly live in the moment for the rest of this dig, and continue to breath deeply in an attempt to become one with history.