view of Nemea Valley  


a website sponsored by
the National Endowment for the Humanities
and Bryn Mawr College






Jim is a director of our dig.  He is a professor at Bryn Mawr College.

What got you interested in archaeology?

I got interested in archaeology in college. I was always interested in history, but in junior year of college I took an introduction to archaeology course. I knew then I wanted to do archaeology. I began to take courses, and then in 1976 I got to dig at a site called Wharram Percy in England.  Then I knew that I wanted to be a digging archaeologist.

How do archaeologists know where to dig?

They don't know where to dig.  Archaeologists are interested in a certain time, people, or approach, and they look for a place where they might answer these questions.  Now some people just do surveys; they study the evidence that is on the landscape, and then they answer questions without actually digging.  Once you find things in the survey that you want to test, you might dig there.  Historical written evidence can also guide you to find a place to dig.  But a simple answer to this question is that we know where to dig because there are indications on the surface of the ground (potsherds, walls), including the shape of the ground (an artificial mound) that indicate humans were there.

What was your favorite artifact of the season?

I don't have favorites.  I liked evidence that showed that the tomb had been used many times.  I also liked the stomion blocking wall because it created a moment of connection with the past.  When we were taking out the stomion, the workmen were commenting how well it was made and how carefully the Mycenaens had placed the stones there.  The blocking wall interested me because it visibly preserved the history of the many times the tomb was opened and closed for different burials.

How did the Mycenaens get around?

We have representations of chariots, so rich guys drove those.  That means they also had carts.  But, mostly they walked.  They also used boats.

How long does it take to dig a chamber tomb?

Longer than we thought.  It takes 4-5 weeks to dig one with a collapsed chamber properly.  It might take 4 weeks to dig one that had not collapsed.

Who is your best archaeological friend?





Copyright © 2007 Johanna Best