We had a half day today. The wind was a steady 35mph (gale force, standing in place is difficult, anything we don't weight down is torn out of our hands and goes flying into the tundra) but we had to stop when the gusts were going over 50mph (the smaller members of our crew were at risk of going flying into the tundra.) Before the rain got too bad, we amused ourselves by watching the tide run in the wrong direction. A few waves reached our cliff, just a few feet from the western wall of our trenches. It's hard not to picture how easily our entire site will wash away.
Our first day digging a human skull bounced out of a sodblock and rolled over my foot, and nothing has really slowed down since then. This site could easily keep a lot of archaeologists happy for years, and we had less then a month. We have museum quality artifacts that barely get any attention because we've found five more interesting things that day and we have to keep digging. It's triage work, at this point. We leave for the site at 8:30, get back at 7:30 or later, and don't take breaks - that's at least 10 hours a day of moving dirt. The permafrost begins to seem like a perfectly reasonable place to take a nap. We have a progress meeting at dinner - the wind and our raingear don't leave much room for talking at the site - and then sometimes stay awake to watch part of a movie. There's internet in the building where we eat, and I can check facebook and email, but it can take 10 tries to post anything and by evening I'm lucky if I can move all my fingers.
(Go to school, people said. Get a degree, they said. Where did I go wrong?)
This might sound bad, but I should point out that none of it makes me actually want to stop working at the end of the day, or kept me from going to the site on Sunday, our one official non-work day. I can be warm and rested almost any time, but there are artifacts in the ground RIGHT NOW and I need to excavate them ALL.
I think it's time to admit it's not that I just keep running into slightly unhinged archaeologists, it's that a certain amount of manic obsession is a basic reqirement of the profession.