It is the dawn of another day in Vilnius. It is Tuesday June 23rd. It rained in the early AM but stopped around 7 AM this morning. It is 11 AM now as I write this with a slight drizzle, but it is supposed to grow into a steady rain for the rest of the afternoon. This is a problem because both the GPR and total station are water resistant but are not waterproof. During heavy rain we need to shut down data collection and find a dry place for the instruments.
Before I provide a recap of yesterday afternoon and evening activities, I want to provide one observation regarding time. In Vilnius it is seven hours later than back at my home base in Pittsburgh. So it is 11:14 AM right now in Vilnius and it is 4:14 AM in Pittsburgh. Also, Vilnius is at similar latitude to Moscow and Edmonton, Alberta, so we are pretty far north. Also we just had the summer solstice so the days are very long. The days are so long in fact that there is over 16 hours of daylight with the sun rising at 4:30 AM and setting just after 10 PM with a distinct twilight remaining to well after 11 PM. Although the sun sets, a glow remains in the sky all night and it does not get completely dark. It seems like afternoon, evening and night are all blended in one slow, drawn out temporal event.
I will now provide a rundown of our afternoon and evening activities from Monday June 22nd. An important development was that I had a meeting with the Lithuanian assistant archaeologist on this project. He is working on another project at a Neolithic site about two hours from here. The Neolithic period is also called the new Stone Age and the site is estimated to be from about 5,000 B.C. They are excavating many burials at the site for which they want to complete DNA analysis to investigate the relationship of the individuals they are digging up. I am trying to work out the details of getting bones back to Duquesne for analysis in our DNA lab. This is similar to the project I set up with the Greek Archaeology Commission regarding bones from Rhodes, but that project has not begun yet because of all the economic problems in Greece. I found out yesterday that the government workers (which means the commission of archaeology staff) have not be paid their salary in three-months and they have stopped coming to work and the offices have closed down. Hopefully Greece will find a solution to their economic woes and we can get that project underway. I will meet with the assistant project archaeologist, later in the week to begin to work out the details about how to move forward with the Neolithic bones project.
Along with Jon Segalman and Richard Freund I met with Dr. Jurgita Verbickiene from the history department at Vilnius University. Jon and Richard were seeking to partner with her on future projects in Lithuania and I was seeking information about student and faculty exchange with the university. Over the next few days she will put me in touch with the Vice Rector who handles such matters for the university. Based on a partnership that my former university (the University of South Florida) had with them, I know they are actively trying to build a network of partner schools for student and faculty exchange. There is an interesting parallel between Duquesne and Vilnius University. Vilnius was founds in 1579 as a Jesuit university. The plaque pictured below provides a brief description of the university. Also below is a photo of my standing by the campus map.
Now onto the research we have completed thus far. We created and collected data from a 5 x 5 grid to begin the data collection. This grid helped us determine how deep the instrument can see below the surface. We think we can see almost three meters down, which would be great. More testing is required to make a final determination. We then set up a 53 x 10 m grid and started collecting data. The batteries for the GPR ran out of charge at about 7 PM after completing 19 of the 40 lines. We started collecting data again today along the same grid but after an hour it started raining again and we had to stop data collection. We were in a holding pattern for about three hours wating for the rain to stop, so that we could continue to collect data. We finished the data collection from this grid about 6 PM. Below is a photo of GPR data being collected along the grid and a photo of me next to the total station which I am using to map in the locations of the GPR grids.
After a hard days work you need to eat, right. Pictured below is the research team at a restaurant where some fine Lithuanian food and drink were consumed.