The Not Quite Adventures of a Professional Archaeologist and Aspiring Curmudgeon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I have survived. Six weeks ago, I stated that I had been charged with completing a rather voluminous report in six weeks (during a week and a half of which I would be out of the country and unable to work on it). I was lucky in that my co-worker Kelly was also assigned, and between the two of us, we wrangled a crew of thirteen people who were spread all over California, and managed to produce the report on time.

All of the crew working on this were fantastic. Without the help of the GIS folks who work for my company, our maps and graphics would not have been produced on time or nearly as well. The lab techs all pitched in to help create cleaned-up and readable site records (nearly 600 of them, in the end). And between my boss and I, we had the text of the report hammered out within a few days. Even Kaylia, being sick of me being gone all the time, spent time in the office with me over the weekend, printing out pages for the report.

We had many late night putting it together, especially towards the end. Wednesday night, I was at the office until midnight. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was here until 1 AM, and the report wasn't complete until 2 am Sunday night/Monday morning.

In the end, the report contained 8,000 pages of text. It took up 18 binders. Yesterday, I drove it to Chowchilla (a town in the eastern portion of California's Central Valley) to drop it off with my boss.

This was the largest project that I had ever been involved in. The total project area covered 200 square miles, and while we only had access to a portion of that, we were responsible for accounting for all of it in some manner. It took nearly seven months of field work, and the sheer number of sites found resulted in a management challenge that proved even more difficult because, due to another large project taking priority, we had mostly green employees in the field, and were having to teach them fieldwork while simultaneously trying to finish the project.

Add to that the fact that our client, a very large company, had poor internal comunication, and even poorer comunication with their various contractors, and you have a situation in which the archaeologists were working hard to finish the project, while various individuals within the client organization were only ever getting part of the picture (and therefore thoroughly confused as to what we were doing, despite our best efforts). The client kept adding new paperwork and meetings to our schedule while simultaneously complaining that we weren't moving fast enough. And, of course, there were the frequently insinuated threats directed at me and Kelly.

Anyway, suffice to say, it was a struggle.

But, the draft report is off. Mind you, that is not to say that we are out of this yet. We sent the draft report to the client, but we still have to assemble a copy for the government agency that will be reviewing it. Once that is done, we wait for agency comments (and there will be some), and then we have to revise.

But, for the moment, I am done with a huge task.

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