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Sureyya in the Field - Being an Archaeologist

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An Office in the Pilbara
An Office in the Pilbara

An Office in the Pilbara

Sureyya Kose

In 2005, Sureyya Kose was a 22-year-old IT specialist living in Australia, who found herself studying archaeology in her spare time. She decided to become an archaeologist, and today she is employed as a contract archaeologist, working in Western Australia and developing skills as a specialist in geophysics. This latest essay, the ninth in the series written by Sureyya since then, describes her current work in the Pilbara desert, in Pod Hradem Cave of the Czech Republic, and as a budding geophysicist.

Sureyya's Journey

Today is another day in the office, the office being advertised at Karratha airport (Western Australia) as 'One of the most extreme and harshest environments on the planet'. It's getting hotter and entering the mid 40's (Celsius) now and it's only 10 am. It's summer. Not a particularly wise time to be here right now but, archaeologists, it seems, are crazy like that.

I'm standing in what looks like a vast and stark alien landscape that stretches for kilometers on end in every direction, with nothing to see, no cars, no roads, no communication towers, no buildings or shacks. Nothing to see but red, red dust, red dirt, red pindan sands and red gibber. At times it looks like a vast red wasteland. The only thing that breaks up the red is the dazzlingly bright and contrasting light blue sky. There's also the spinifex. But we can get to that later. Temperatures climb to 47 and up in the shade, and reach a scorching 52+ in the sun, with the hot desert wind and surrounding rocks that are encrusted with iron cook you in their own unique way. It's Mars without a spacesuit.

Snakes???

'What about the snakes? Aren't you worried about the snakes too?' a fellow archaeologist asks me as he wraps cardboard from a six pack of beer around his shins and then proceeds to put on his gaiters over the top. Smiling I add, just for fun...'you do realise death adders can jump?...apparently they can knock off a grown man on a horse!' 'You're mean!' a traditional owner laughs at us for being worried. I ask them how deadly a death adder is, really. They say it takes 3 seconds to kill you...and can retract and strike again in a blink of an eye. They flash smiles at our incredulous faces. We all laugh hoping it's a joke, pretending to be tough, and wondering how the hell we'd get out of that situation if it did occur. Looking around, and being so far in land, with only radio contact between each other, we wonder how help could be gotten... and if they'd reach us in time.

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