19 March, 2008

It's for the community garden, I swear!

Received an email yesterday from one of the lead archaeologists yesterday, Linda. Apparently in the packing they forget this solution called Formulin, which is used to kill fungus (or hongos in Mexican Spanish). She asked if I could go by the Field Museum and pick it up. And I emailed back "Of course!", certainly pleased that I had been asked to do so. Of course, I am pretty much their only team member that is here in Chicago, but still...it means I am on an actual archaeological team. I'm finally achieving my dreams. Woohoo!

So what will we be using the Formulin for? Just in case we open a tomb and there is a fungul presence that will need taking care of. Finding a tomb is highly likely, given that the ancient Zapotecs, like many cultures around the world, often buried their dead within their households. It won't be quite like my dig at San Jose de Moro in Peru, as that was a cemetary site and one couldn't walk 3 feet without triping over a burial. But if we do unearth a tomb at El Palmillo, we should certainly find some interesting stuff, as the Zapotecs also often buried many of the deceased's material possesions with them.

Should I be asked by customs why I would be bringing fungus-killer into Mexico, I've been advised to say that I am bringing it to someone to help them in their garden. Fertile as my imagination is, I've come up with what I hope is a plausible story--I'm a student volunteering with a small local community in Oaxaca and I will be working with the kids on a community garden. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

One small note: the name Zapotec, though commonly used, is actually an exonym derived the Nahuatl word tzapotēcah (singular tzapotēcatl), meaning "inhabitants of the place of sapote". The actual name they give themselvs is Be'ena'a, which translate to "The People".


vergueishon said...

Ha! You're actually resorting to smuggling fungicidal spray for the good of Mexico's archaeological heritage...so ironic :). And love the backup story, to say the least.

I was sooooo thrilled to read the opening lines to this post! Indeed, it's the really mundane things that bring home those very real moments of realization (I know, sounds super redundant, but don't feel like browsing over to OED ;). This reminds me of an interview I heard on CPR a couple of days past. The interviewee was making a comment about how, earlier in his career in photography he believed that what conveyed real meaning from a subject to the viewer in war photography was capturing violence in it's full-blooded grotesque-ness (is that a non-word?). Only later in his career has he realized that it's everyday things that really do the job of communicating the "realness" of a subject. The example he gave, quite relevantly, was of an Israeli-American captured by terrorists in Iraq, being shown not only with his American driver's license as proof of residence, but more poignantly, the frequent shopper card to his grocery store in the US. It was only then that he realized how much such a seemingly trivial item made the hostage's experience more devastating in its palpableness and familiarity.

Anyhow, thought I'd share that with you :).

Eve said...

Okay, just want to start out by saying thank you so much, I'm glad to have a reader, especially one that comments.

Secondly, not that I don't agree with the interviewee--I do--but he is neither the first nor the last war photographer to realize that it is the mundane things that pack the most emotional punch in the face of big events, whether natural disasters or human ones. Some of the most impactful photographs have been those that focus on life interrupted, such as all those photos of people's things washed around after the tsunami. This is not exactly a new revelation however, but I feel it is treated as one perhaps because he is referring to the Iraq war?

I don't know, it just seems to me as if the media treats the Iraq war like everything is new and they never knew (haha) certain things before this conflict such as war is hard, people die, soldiers go crazy, etc.

But thanks for the comment, please keep reading!