Reading for Archaeology in Cyprus: the Prologue

With a good chunk of semester-end grading behind me, it’s about time to look toward the Cyprus Bibliography and set down with a couple of works. I’ve gladly been charged with the task of archaeological trench advisor (or adviser, depending on your preference; I suppose archaeological monitor would also work). There is Dr. Bill Caraher’s blog that I check in with about every 1 to 3 days. Bill is Ohio State University-trained, and U of North Dakota’s historian of the Ancient World, North Dakota Man-Camps, and Punk Archaeology, among other topics.

But now I’m reading Yiannis Papadakis, Echoes From the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide (I.B. Tauris, 2005, ’06, ’08, ’10). When I first started reading it I thought to myself, “Is this guy serious?” but then realized he was parodying (or a parody as a youth) what Ed Said, well, said back in Orientalism circa 1978. Papadakis’s work is that way up through at

Actual hand-written notes from a book, this in 2012.

least the first 10 or so pages (easily more, but I got the point), articulating one Western view of the Middle East where coke-addled debauched sultans (this is one Western Parody of the Mid-East) since 635AD charged Janissaries with spreading Islam throughout the world “by the force of fire and the sword.” (Papadakis, 2005:6) Mehmet II was a bit overzealous, but oh c’mon. A person can’t go around razing villages and metropolises just because there are a few bad apples in the mix. If that were the case, then there would be no New York City.

Anyhow, and moving along, toward the end of the book Papadakis eventually finds himself having made friends with individuals he formerly had stereotyped, and a new level of objectivity is achieved. That is perhaps a universal in the history of humanity: generalized ideas about the world, or The Other, and all of this undermined once friendships are established with individuals in that Other. In lay terms, this is called getting to know someone, or what in kindergarten was called, “Making friends.” It’s okay to approach a stranger and ask them about the weather, and then move on to other standard topics like, “So you from around here?” It doesn’t always pan out, but life is a game of odds, and if you ask enough the odds are stacked in your favor. Eventually this leads to more substantive conversation, and perhaps even friendships. I think the point, though, is to listen more than you talk. And when you do talk, speak to what has been said to you. This is the epitome of conversation. And apparently you need to do this throughout life, not just in kindergarten. Back to Papadakis…

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