Epic Email #18

Greetings from Her Epicness!

Today feels like a Saturday, which is a serious pity, since it’s
Monday. I’m halfway through my tests (numerically rather than
chronologically speaking), so I feel like I deserve a break, but
tomorrow I’m back at it. I guess I’ll just enjoy my morning
waffle and call it good. (My waffles are stale…)

I made it through the first week of exams with only a few
bruises and scratches. Here’s the instant replay:

Bronze Age Aegean: you already got to hear about this one, but
in light of exams since, I am re-evaluating my former assessment
and declaring the exam a mild success. At least I knew what I
was talking about, even if the professor kept looking at me like
moldy cheese and I couldn’t elaborate on glyptics…

Geomorphology: you’ve also heard about this one. No need to
reassess here; it was a disaster when I talked about it last
week, and still remains a bit of a disaster. *sigh*

Bronze Age of Anatolia: mildly successful! I got a good
question, and despite not having the smoothest answer, I was
able to give him additional details every time he prodded me for
something I was forgetting.

Bronze Age of the Levant: I couldn’t believe it. I walked into
the exam and the professor asked me “what do you want to talk
about?” What? Really?? Ebla! I wanna talk about Ebla!! So I did,
and it was mostly successful. At least, it was until he asked
about Sargon. “Where did Sargon come from?” My mind goes blank.
Sargon was from Assyria, wasn’t he? That sounds right… So I
say “Assyria.” You’d think I’d just told my professor to go jump
off a cliff. Turns out I had the wrong Sargon. Sargon II was,
indeed, Assyrian, but he was also about 2000 years later than
the Sargon in question. *banging head on desk* It went a bit
downhill from there…

Geoarchaeology: This is, by far, my most distressing exam so
far. I was feeling really good about it when I went in. Instead
of just a question over the theory we learned, he gave us a
situation and we had to apply it. Great! I set my situation up
in such a way that I could best describe all the geological
processes that would affect it. Turns out I was shooting myself
in the foot. I went in to talk to him, told him all about how
the geology had affected my site, and he says:

“So, what does that mean for the archaeological context?”

Uh… I guess it’s been pretty well ruined, I answer.

“So can you learn *anything* about this site?”

Um… you can learn about how the environment affected it and
make some deductions about –

“No no no, can you learn anything about the people who used to
live there?”

Um. Nothing specific, no.

“Then that was a very poor place to dig a pit, wasn’t it?”

Er… well… I dug that pit looking for information on
geological processes! It was very shallow. Didn’t take much
work. I have other people digging more useful pits…

“So why don’t you tell me about those pits?”

Oh. Uh huh. Um. Well… there’s still the problem of all the
artifacts being jumbled together, so… um…

It just kept getting worse and worse. Eventually he asked “so
your excavation is really in trouble, isn’t it?” Yup. My
excavation is doomed. I sat there staring at my notes for a very
long 30 seconds trying to think of a way to undooom my
excavation, but it didn’t come. I STILL haven’t thought of a way
to dig myself out of that hole I set up. Bleh. What a mess.

Rock Art: I went in feeling really good about it. I know
everything about rock art! I especially love the “Find That Rock
Art!” game. Which is kind of how the exam went. We got a photo
and we had to tell him about it. Uh oh. The photo I got was
terrible. I couldn’t see anything that I could make obvious
statements about. Worse, it was in black and white, so the image
kept inverting itself so I seemed to be looking at art sticking
OUT of a rock rather than being carved INTO the rock. Very
disconcerting. Eventually, I gave up trying to figure it out and
went to talk to him. Blah blah blah blah! Having learned from
previous exams that “ums” and “ahs” and “hrms” don’t help your
credibility, I just made bold declarations of fact regarding
things I was less than certain about. “That bovine is OBVIOUSLY
more recent than that boat! Just LOOK at the patination!” It was
great. He just sat there and nodded and nodded… Finally, asked
for an absolute date.

“What?? You want a calendar year?” I ask incredulously.

Yup, a calendar year.

“Well, it’s Naqada II period, but I don’t really know about the
dates, I’d have to guess…”

That’s okay. I have to ask you SOMETHING you can’t answer, or
what’s the point of having an exam?

I nearly died of happiness. And, as it turns out, I nailed the
date by pure accident. “What is 3500bce, Alex?” The professor
kept pushing me until he did finally ask a question I couldn’t
answer, but I think that is a VERY good sign. *happy sigh*

So the overall analysis? So-so. Rock art was great. Everything
else varied between Okay and Uh-oh. For the first time in my
life, I’m not 100% sure I’m passing all my classes, and I don’t
like it! Passing is the only requirement – no one cares if you
pass with a 10 (out of 20) or an 18. You can retake exams in
September, but… wow. This is very disconcerting. Oral exams
make me wonder how I EVER passed some of my classes back in the
States. And I’ve done well so far too, in that I have studied
well enough not to be taken by surprise by any of my questions.
(I take fiendish comfort in the fact that that isn’t true for
everyone. Having to ask for a new question can’t possibly help
your grade…)

This coming week will be Chiefdom to State in Anatolia, The Iron
Age of the Levant, and Bronze Age Egypt from the First
Intermediate Period Up. It’ll be a busy week. Bleh. I’m ready to
come home! I fear my brain will be total mush by the time I get
there.

Now that I’ve bored you all to tears with a history of my exams,
I should probably dwindle to a close. I’ve done absolutely
nothing in the way of interesting extracurriculars this week. I
hope you all have been having fun for me. 🙂 Thanks for the
notes of encouragement. I promise to keep studying hard, and
I’ll let you know how it goes. Hugs and kisses to all!

🙂 Laura

PS: The chickens also send their rain-drenched love. Nothing
patheticker than a soggy chicken…

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