An early start…

Meeting in Munich today. I’m on the train with my colleague Sayantani Neogi on the way to Stanstead Airport and its 4.45 am. It’s still dark but warm.  I have had 3 hours sleep. It was a little bit stressful because on my way out I couldn’t find a lock for my bicycle which I need to lock my bike at the station in Cambridge or someone will pinch it. Anyway, I found it eventually and very quickly rushed to the station where I only just made the train in time. Sayantani was waiting for me but hiding just to get me back for being late! We travel usually with Ryanair, which takes us to Memmingen although they advertise it as Munich West. It’s actually two hours from Munich. From there we get the bus into Munich city center. We are having a little meeting ourselves anticipating the sort of thing that might come up and reviewing all the things we have been doing since the last time we were in Munich.

We carry out our soil thin section analyses in the McBurney Laboratory for Geoarchaeology, Cambridge University. At the moment we are excited because we have nearly got our hands on the thin sections from the 2016 field season at Sai which are being manufactured by Tonko, our lab technician. We had a go ourselves at hand finishing some of the thin sections, because the perfect thickness is required for good analyses. We love micromorphology! Because we deal with soils which are very soft (unless and until it is a lump of hard clay),  it takes a lot of care and quite some time from taking the samples and transporting them making sure that they remain in one piece. The important thing is to keep the samples in one block to retain the integrity of the sediments. What we are interested in is not just to identify the properties of the sample like the micro-artefacts but also to understand how all the different components relate to each other. We are lucky to be a part of AcrossBorders which is giving us the opportunity to investigate a New Kingdom town. We spend a lot of time at the microscope discussing our observations. Often we are in some disagreement over the interpretation which can be fun for the other people in the lab; however the noise levels aren’t helpful for their concentration.

I’m now in a rather expensive cafe in Stanstead Airport. The amount of people catching airplanes seems to be growing every month, so it’s hard to find a seat while the Gate information is released. There it is, Gate 29. Must dash. We’ve arrived in Memmingen and now to get the bus to Munich which takes about one and half hours. Hope I don’t fall asleep…… will update later!

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