An Archeological Survey

(A personal impression by Robert Roskoden)

Everything started almost one year ago. I was in my third semester. Actually, I just learned about SGS. What they are and what they do, I had no clue. All I knew was, that it had something to do with the geosciences and that I was invited to join one of their meetings. So I attended with no idea what was going to happen. Before I knew it I joined their meetings more or less regular. At first, it was very confusing to hear all the abbreviations in the entire geoscientific community somehow connected with SGS. I had no idea what was going on. Lucky for me I was not the only one.

Soon, after the first few meetings our SEG Student Chapter president, Julio Galindo Guerreros, proposed an idea for a field camp in Indonesia in collaboration with an Indonesian student chapter, the UIGS. The target of the project should be an archaeological survey of the Surosowan Palace in Bantan, a province somewhere in west Java. Even so the provided information was in the early stage, the idea of myself being someone close to a geological Indiana Jones was more than enough to cling myself, with all my energy, to the project.

It was evidently at the beginning that too many students would like to take a chance on such an opportunity. I mean, who would not like to make a trip to Java/Indonesia? Although it was obvious to me that my minor knowledge, giving the fact that I was from the youngest semester, was probably a big disadvantage against the bigger students, I somehow made it through all the preparations of the application phase. More surprisingly was, I did not just make it through the applicationphase but also through the training phase, learning all the important stuff about geophysical surveying with the GPR, magnetic and geoelectric. Finally but unbelievable, I was allowed to book my flight ticket to Jakarta as one of five students. Virtually I could see the names of the participants now published at the next “geo nature”.

Flying to Jakarta Julio, the project leader, decided to divide our team, consisting now of 5 German students, into three groups, one for each surveying technique. I got the lead of the geomagnetics and was now more excited than ever. Nevertheless, I was eager to meet and work with our ten Indonesian colleagues. As expected we were faced with difficult circumstances. Pretty fast, we realized that we had to carry most of the responsibility on our shoulders. Feeling the pressure constantly growing in my stomach, not knowing if it came from the spicy food or from the greater responsibility, I realized with the others that we had to pull ourselves together and work now more than ever as a team. With this new motivation and losing the idea of our work ever being published, we worked ourselves through all the challenges that laid before us. We worked as hard as we could and thought to stop either until we had enough data or our time frame in Indonesia ended. Unfortunately, the latter was the case.

Packing up our stuff after many days and sleepless nights of exhausting processing, more data was still waiting for us. After three weeks we finally arrived home. But being at home did not mean that our project had ended, yet. Actually, it was quite the contrary. Instead of endless data processing which kept us awake during the nights in Java, the interpreting, analyzing and writing of the report used to be almost more energy sapping than the data processing, especially when lectures started. Now, that the whole project is finally over I can only say to everyone who is thinking about joining a field camp: Do it!

I learned so much during this one year of preparation, data acquisition, processing and analyzing than I ever could during my normal studies. I did not only learn handling some geophysical instruments, but I also could improve a lot of soft skills, like leading a group and how to act under big amount of pressure. Therefore, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this project and of course also our sponsors: SEG, EAGE, Schlumberger and SGS. Without their great support we could have never realized the project.

(october 2012)

describing text for image one