Field season is about to begin

Field season is beginning a bit earlier than usual for me this year. 2015 - 16 was wonderfully successful in terms of project development and grants, which in turn means that there is a lot going on in 2017. The first round will start at the end of next week, when I will be heading off to Oregon for the main period of fieldwork for the NERC project at Paisley Caves, which I've been blogging about a fair bit. I can't wait to be back in central Oregon getting my hands dirty, literally. It is such a beautiful landscape, very quiet and we'll be a small team, which I prefer. We'll be camping near the site, and taking showers at Summer Lake Hot Springs. So the stress of sampling at such an important site will be rewarded with a bit of relaxation at the end of the day!

When I get back from Oregon I'll be making frantic arrangements to get my research visa for Turkey. This involves leaving your passport on the consulate in London for 1-2 weeks, which is a bit difficult when you are travelling around either side of your intended travel dates. The plan is to visit Catalhoyuk towards the end of June/beginning of July, so there will be a fairly speedy turnaround between getting back from Oregon and getting the visa. This will be my first visit to Catal since 2012. How has it been so long?! From 2013 - 2015 I was working at Edinburgh, and didn't have the time or funding to visit the site, and couldn't really justify it as I still had a lot of archive samples to work on. This year I am going as part of a new Wellcome trust funded project that we were awarded at the beginning of the year. We are combining multiple strands of archaeology (geoarchaeology, bioarchaeology) with GIS and civil engineering, as a pilot study to look at the possible respiratory health impacts of all the silica-rich fuels that people were burning. If the pilot study works, we can build a larger collaborative project that brings together a team to look at the question of health in more detail. Obviously this also feeds into my other interest, coprolites! As part of the larger project we will also look at gastro-intestinal health.

Following Turkey there is another exciting project in the works, in Greece. I'll save details about that for another blog, but I am really keen to see it work out, lots of method development potential and the opportunity to answer some important questions. And finally, somewhere in there, towards the end of July, beginning of August, I'll be taking a short trip to Orkney to take a few extra samples for the Ness of Brodgar project, and to discuss more collaborations...