Platt Fellow Allison Mickel Has Trouble with Her Trowel at Çatalhöyük

Last year, working at Bir Madhkur with Dr. Andrew M. Smith II, one of the volunteers had brought a footlong trowel meant for heavy-duty gardening, or possibly harpooning whales. We were constantly inventing theories as to its possible intended purposes, until eventually we only had to pick up the thing (if we could lift it) or simply mention the “Mattie trowel” to inspire laughter.
This year, at Çatalhöyük, I had brought the Mattie trowel. My digging partner-along with everyone else working in the building, for that matter-had a trowel with a small, sharp, triangular head. I looked like I had brought a pie-slicer to site. But my Mattie trowel had been through four seasons of fieldwork, across continents, where I had perfected my excavation technique with her. I had learned to cut Rubiks cube corners with vertical walls and flat floors. Continue reading