by Irma Havlicek Powerhouse Museum Web Producer
Trowel tales and true – Tasha Nassenstein
I sent a list of questions to our Zagora 2013 participants to get an idea of why they participated in Zagora 2013. Here is the reply from Tasha Nassenstein, a 2013 Zagora volunteer: Why did you want to work on Zagora? I wanted to work on Zagora because the opportunity was there so I signed up for it as soon as I heard about it. It has always been a dream of mine to work on an archaeological dig. Now I can tick that off the list!
What archaeological study and/or work have you done?
I did an archaeology course called ‘The Ancient Greek Body’ taught by Lesley and Meg at the University of Sydney. But other than that I have not really done much archaeology, as I majored in Ancient History.
How many archaeological excavations have you worked on before?
None, apart from Zagora! But will definitely be doing more hopefully in the near future!
When did you develop your interest in archaeology?
When I was a little kid, my eldest sister (who is about ten years my senior) used to tell me stories of Greek Myths before she tucked me into bed. Ever since, I’ve always been fascinated by Greek History, and archaeology sort of goes hand-in-hand with it. Plus, I also love getting my hands dirty. I also used to watch this program on the History Channel (nerd alert) called ‘Museum Secrets’ and they made it sound like archaeologists had all the fun, which is kind of true.
What inspires you about archaeology?
Dirt (only joking, but not really). Everything really, just the excitement uncovering stuff that people haven’t seen in thousands of years really excites me. There is always something new and fascinating to experience every day in the field. Despite battling the elements like we did on Zagora, I had the best time of my life and enjoyed every moment of it.
How does the experience of working at Zagora compare to how you imagined it would be?
Since Zagora was my first dig, I did not have much to compare it to. I was already on cloud nine by the time I arrived in Andros. Being on this dig was a dream come true, so I felt like a kid at a candy store. But to be honest, it exceeded my expectations. I met so many incredible people from so many different backgrounds, and they were all really supportive and keen on answering any question I had. As a recent graduate, I feel like a fish out of water because I had no idea what to do with my life. But being on Zagora has helped me build a great network with amazing and inspiring people who I really look up to now. They have given me different ideas of what to do and that was really reassuring.
Did you bring your own trowel to Zagora? How long have you had it/how many digs have you used it on?
No, I stole people’s trowels.
What would you say to others who may be considering volunteering to work on an archaeological excavation?
Do it, you will not regret it. If you have a passion for archaeology and history then why not apply to be a volunteer for an archaeological project like Zagora? There is so much we do not know about this ancient city and to be a part of this project has been an incredible opportunity. There is so much to learn about these people, they were a thriving settlement until quite suddenly, it seems, they disappeared! I just want to find out why, and by being on this dig, you slowly learned about the way they lived and what those people were like. It was very exciting and every day I was excited to get to work (despite the 6am start). In the beginning they will warn you that this particular dig is very physically demanding. Don’t take this lightly – it is extremely demanding. You are not only trekking to get to the site but you are exposed in your trench and every day you are battling the elements. However, I really enjoy trekking, hiking and that sort of physical work so I was having a absolute ball.
Andros is an incredibly beautiful island with beautiful people. I travelled around the Greek Islands before going on the dig, and to be honest Andros was by far my favourite island. There are hardly any tourists and not many locals speak a lot of English. In all seriousness, Andros is probably what Santorini was like 40 years ago. If you do not like tourist-infested places then this is the place for you.
Any other comments?
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has made this experience a special one. I did not get a chance to properly say goodbye to everyone but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone. Especially Paul and Steve! I had the best trench, they were amazing and so much fun! They really made my trip!
Other profiles of archaeologists
If you are interested in other profiles of archaeologists, check out our Archaeologists Q&A.