Annette Dukes – Zagora 2013 volunteer

Trowel tales and true – Annette Dukes

Answer text by Annette Dukes
Posted by Irma Havlicek
Powerhouse Museum Web Producer

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 Annette Dukes, a 2013 Zagora volunteer:
Why did you want to work on Zagora?

Annette Dukes at Zagora
Annette Dukes at Zagora. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

We all have “bucket lists” – the things we wish we could do. I had always wanted to be part of a dig team, and I had my first opportunity last year and am now hooked. Money, opportunity and time permitting I intend to attend as many as possible. After returning from volunteering on the excavations at Paphos, Cyprus, last year, I joined the Friends of the Nicholson Museum. I am also a member of Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (AAIA) and Near Eastern Archaeological Foundation (NEAF) which gives me the opportunity to attend many interesting lectures and information events. It was at one of these events that I found out about the project at Zagora. I also had conversations with friends who had been to the excavation last year (2012) and so was keen to be part of the project.

What archaeological study and/or work have you done?

I have this year completed the Centre for Continuing Education University Preparation Course (CCE UPC) in Ancient History with Helen Nicholson at Sydney University which has enhanced my interest in Ancient History.

Annette Dukes tipping out plant debris which has been removed from the trench she has been working on
Annette Dukes about to tip out plant debris which has been removed from the trench she has been working on. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

How do you earn a living?

I am a qualified Library Technician, working in the Library of a NSW Government High School on the North Shore of Sydney.

How many archaeological excavations have you worked on before?

Zagora is my 2nd excavation; I was part of the team last year on the Sydney University Theatre Excavations at Paphos, Cyprus. I had a great time, the team were great with me being a complete “newbie”.

When did you develop your interest in archaeology?

I have been interested in Ancient History and Archaeology for a number of years. After travelling to Greece, Italy, Turkey and Egypt in 2005 with my son, I realised I wanted to take the next step and be part of a dig team, so here I am.

What inspires you about archaeology?

I love the idea that whatever site or excavation you are working on you have the privilege to reveal the story, the history of the people who lived and worked in that particular place. It is like reading a book; you keep turning the page to reveal the story, so with archaeology you remove the layers to reveal their story.

Annette Dukes holding a hand pick
Annette Dukes holding a hand pick, one of the tools commonly used by archaeologists. Photo by Irma Havlicek; © PHM

How does working at Zagora compare with other digs you have been on?

Zagora is amazing: the remoteness, the exposure to the winds, and the steep cliffs to the beautiful blue water below. I wonder at the sheer ingenuity of those who settled there, to make the best of the harsh environment their home.

Did you bring your own trowel to Zagora?

Yes I did bring my own trowel, it was ordered from a company in London, and it arrived in time for me to go to Paphos last year. It is great to have your own piece of archaeology equipment, it makes it more real, and you feel more professional.

What would you say to others who may be considering volunteering
to work on an archaeological excavation?

Working in a high school I have the opportunity to share my travels and knowledge with the students, who are studying Ancient History; they are keen listeners. I take great pleasure in sharing my enthusiasm for archaeology with all my family and friends. I have recommended to lots of people that archaeology gives you the opportunity to travel, to enjoy local culture and food, and the excitement and opportunity of revealing a piece of history. Yes it is hard work, but I have never had so much fun playing in dirt, sand, rocks and the wind with a great group of like-minded people.

Annette Dukes at Zagora
Annette Dukes at Zagora. © PHM; photo by Irma Havlicek

Other profiles of archaeologists

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6 thoughts on “Annette Dukes – Zagora 2013 volunteer”

  1. Our school staff and students enjoyed reading your profile story of Annette Dukes. She is a valued member of our school community and we admire her commitment and passion of bringing the past to life. We look forward to hearing about the dig when she returns and to her sharing her wonderful stories with us.
    Best wishes
    Ms Terri-Anne Kamasz
    Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School North Turramurra Sydney

    • Thanks very much, Terri-Anne. I’m sure Annette will appreciate your comment. She and some friends went to the island of Tinos for a short break yesterday. They will return refreshed today, in preparation for the last week on site. I will make sure she sees your comment. Oh, and I should clarify – really it wasn’t my profile story; Annette wrote her answers to the questions I’d asked, so it really is her story. I’m sure she will be eager to share with you all – students and staff – tales of her experience at Zagora. We would welcome further comments or questions from you, your students and staff. And if your Ancient History teacher would like to engage students in other ways (eg, possibly video conference with archaeologists), please ask her/him to get in touch with me – Regards, Irma

    • Thanks, Jan – I’ll make sure Annette sees your comment. It is a fantastic experience – we’re all lucky to be here.

    • Thanks, Claire – I’m so glad you’re enjoying the posts. Yes, it’s remarkable how many people here are taking holidays to volunteer on this project – or others who have contract jobs, who forego an income altogether to be here – and who do it repeatedly. It’s a passion.

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