Letters From The Field

Have pen, will travel. Sending letters.

Dispatches from the field: A telegraphed expedition diary

A letter from Turkey. In which is described an excavation season’s daily grind in short dispatches cabled from the field.

Turkey, April 2015


joining an expedition, being ‘in the field’ does mean to be out of reach for several weeks, sometimes even months (well, despite the occasional letter from the field, right?). “Where are you right now?”, “Are you alright there so far away?”, and “What are you doing all day at the dig?” are the questions asked by those staying at home (and they might sound familiar, don’t they), of family and friends curiously left behind. Back in the days, news about better or worse, success or failure of those who decamped to map the last remaining white spots of this planet could only be transmitted once a mission station was reached in dense jungle or a lonesome outpost was found in the desert – or when paths crossed with yet another expedition. Some quick verbal message, a short cabled note, or a worn letter often were the only sign of life. If all. Of course, we are living in an age of mass media now, it’s the era of social networks, e-mails, and phones which are supposed to be smarter than ourselves.


Of course, the occasional postcard still serves well (if you find the time and a post office – by the way, did you get┬ámy sketch-postcard the other day?), and the travel journal kept abroad is a most suitable way to document a journey’s progress – at the same time offering the kind of information those left at home long for. In times when a 140-character tweet replaces the telegram there are opening up some interesting new paths inviting us to explore and experiment with other channels of travel narration and reportage. So, you could actually and easily have a look into this travelogue: The #ExcavationDiary of an expedition to south-eastern Turkey – everyday field routine and #MyAnatolianVillageLife cabled home each day. In real-time. All of this right here, if you don’t mind.


16 comments on “Dispatches from the field: A telegraphed expedition diary

  1. John Hayes
    May 21, 2015

    Thanks for taking the time to journal. Provides a great impression of the subtleties of an archaeologist’s daily grind. Not all fun and games, but still I find myself a bit jealous.

    • J.N.
      May 26, 2015

      And thank your for your kind comment! Field work can be rather exhausting from time to time, a bit stressful every now and then – but always keeps being intriguing part of the job.

  2. Crystal M. Trulove
    May 25, 2015

    A toilet seat! Bwahhh! These are lovely snapshots of your life. The postcards are beautiful and the ever-present chai is reassuring. Tesekkur ederim

    • J.N.
      May 25, 2015

      Ah, you’re welcome. Bir ┼čey de─čil, I mean. Glad, you enjoyed these little dispatches from the field.

  3. joshuamarnell
    May 28, 2015

    Your pictures are Awesome!!

  4. Bespoke Traveler
    May 28, 2015

    Your digital diary entry filled with modern day telegrams makes us realize that the means of communication may have changed but they remain the same in their essence. Lovely illustrations!

    • Jens
      May 28, 2015

      Indeed a point I intended to illustrate. ;-) Thanks for the kind compliment!

  5. emielgerritsen
    May 28, 2015

    Nice website!­čĺ¬

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  11. Sibel
    July 12, 2016

    I nearly felt I visited that Tepe. I believe I can even tell your field dog from others now! :) Right now it’s 2:50 AM, I am at work (not currently, no patients around), and these “telegrams” really relieve me! (Besides, one other thing to mention, it is surprising that noone around here has ever heard about G├Âbeklitepe- “Doktoran─▒m, what’s that you’re reading? G├Âbeklitepe? What is it?”)

    • Jens
      July 17, 2016

      ├çok te┼čekk├╝rler, Sibel! A pleasure to not only entertain but also inform with these little letters here. ;-)

      Awareness for the site and our research there seem to grow (slowly but considerably) over the last years judging by visitor numbers at site, but yes, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Quite an exciting chance being part of this, to be honest.

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This entry was posted on May 10, 2015 by in Archaeology and tagged , , , , , .

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