As a student in the Anthropology and Geography Department at Kennesaw State University concentrating in archaeology, my interests lie in places all around the world.
Last fall, my adviser, with whom I have been to India twice, received an email from a colleague. This email requested students to come work for the field season in Oman.
I decided that, rather than stay in the Atlanta area and do my internship, I could do it in Oman and learn hands-on how a large-scale excavation worked. I emailed the director of the project, filed some paperwork, and that was that; I was going on an adventure.
I knew very little about modern Oman when I got on the plane to go. I read archaeological articles in preparation for the excavation, but I had no idea what I would see when I got there.
I couldn’t have been more surprised. Flying in directly from an excavation in India, Oman was a whole new kind of culture shock.
Almost everything is modern construction and very westernized but retains obvious influences of Omani traditional culture.
This blend of tradition and modernization is one of the most intriguing things about Oman. It appears so seamlessly blended that it is almost bewildering to the senses.
At first glance, I was in awe, and it only got better.
I flew in to become a part of the American-Japanese Bat Archaeological Project (AJBAP). Bat (Baat) is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bat, al-Khutum and al-Ayn, about three hours inland from the coastal capital of Muscat.
The entirety of the UNESCO site is incredibly rich with sites dating as far back as the Hafit Period (3500 B.C.-2700 B.C.). The main goal of this season was to unearth the domestic structures from the Umm an-Nar period (2700-2000 B.C.) near an ancient tower called al-Khafaji.
In the time that I was in Oman, our team was very privileged to be invited to a wedding, a formal lunch with a Ministry official, and multiple dinners in the homes of people we worked with and met.
Guests are treated like royalty, the food is delectable, and the people are generous and kind.
On site we had people from the local village working with us. In this sort of setting, you really get to know the people with who you are working and close friendships develop.
I am sad that I had to leave but, thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp, I am still in contact with the friends I made.
The time I spent in Oman involved a lot of hard work, but that is the nature of archaeology. The best part of all of it was being in such a beautiful country where our days off could be spent hiking the beautiful – and geologically intriguing – landscape, camping in the desert, shopping in the local souk (market), or even at a huge mall in the city.
There are beautiful archaeological sites all over Oman, but if that’s not your thing, there is plenty of other stuff to do and see.
My experience in Oman was overwhelmingly positive, and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to go back.
Caitlin Syfrett is a student at Kennesaw State University pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in anthropology. She worked extensively in India before being invited to work in Oman.