2002 DIRECTORS' DIARIES
P. Gregory Warden
Michael Thomas
Reports from the end of the field season

 


Greg Warden in his executive suite in the restauro. Michael Thomas in the field.

Greg Warden and Michael Thomas shared the responsibility of writing the Directors' Diaries, one of them writing each week. Greg Warden wrote entries for the password protected page.

 

Week 5 - A Week Shortened by Rain - Michael Thomas:


Clouds over the Podere Funghi during the rains of Week 5.

This week little was done at Poggio Colla because of heavy rain on Monday and Tuesday. Although we got in a couple of hours each day, both days were pretty much wasted. To make things worse, the trenches had standing water (in parts of PC 22, knee high!) and these conditions slowed excavation for the following two days. The students seemed a bit irritated with me because we tried to excavate through the rainstorms. However, I really had no choice. We lost precious time during this week, so much so that two trenches--PC 22 and 23--that I had planned to finish, will now have to be reopened next year.


Large blocks resting on bedrock in Trench PC 23.

I have been paying a lot of attention to the excavation of the interior of our monumental building this summer. Justin Winkler, Robert Vander Poppen, and our architect Jess Galloway have frequent discussions on the top of the hill as we stand overlooking the trenches. I am not sure that we have solved any of the problems associated with this building although we have come up with some interesting scenarios. Our primary problem is that we do not have any interior support for the building we assume stood on top of our foundations. I feel at this point we can explain this problem in one of three ways: 1) The crossing walls are within the still unexcavated 2.5 meter wide strip that runs across the foundations to the east of PC 23; 2) Our building is not a building, but instead a courtyard surrounded by rooms on at least two sides; or 3) that the large blocks in PC 23 are part of interior foundations, or as Jess and I recently discussed the corner of a smaller building that used our larger foundations as a podium platform.


Jess Galloway, Project Architect, returns to the site.

 


View showing kilns, foundations, and tile fall inTrenches PF 6, 9, and 10 during Week 5.

 


One of our Research Associates, Prof. Patricia Lulof and Director Michael Thomas
discussing the building structures and roof tiles of Poggio Colla.

 


Giuseppe Ancarani (Bepe), Michael Thomas, and Estelle Reddeck.

 

Week 6 - Greg Warden:

It has been an odd summer for me, for I have had to deal with responsibilities of non-archaeological nature, part of my work as interim Director of the Meadows Museum, that have necessitated returning to the United States for a few days and spending some time in Madrid working on future exhibits for the museum. Fortunately the excavation has been in the capable hands of my co-director, Michael Thomas, whose reports you have been reading. I have now been back at Poggio Colla for over a week, and have had time to catch up on work in the field and the excavation labs, and I am enormously pleased with the progress that has been made.


Karen Stamm (left) conserves finds while Bridget Marx maintains catalog data.

The laboratory, which is my responsibility, has a talented conservation staff, led by Karen Stamm, and a superb cataloguer, Bridget Marx, who has been assisted recently by Susan McIntyre. They have been catching up on digital photography and on the catalogue/data base, which is now in exemplary order. These are the small, unseen details of excavation life that are essential to proper understanding and explication of the site. Our major priority this summer was to work on material from the Podere Funghi, an area that we hope to complete next summer and prepare for publication in the next few years. This will be the first step of our publication program, a monograph on the artisan quarters, building and midden, in the Podere Funghi. In this regard, publication, Michael Thomas and I are hard at work on a submission to the Etruscans Now conference at the British Museum, and this fall we hope to submit an updated report on the last few years' work to the Journal of Roman Archaeology. See Publications for a list of articles published by Poggio Colla staff.


View of Trenches 6 and 9 in the Podere Funghi during Week 6 of 2002.

The excavation proper is the bailiwick of Michael Thomas, but I can't help commenting on our progress and on the bigger picture. The Podere Funghi is moving along well as we continue to define the extent of the structure, uncover new kilns, and deal with impressive floor packing that is chock-full of pan tiles. As you will see in the specialized reports, we can now document at least two phases of occupation, and from the work here we should be able to document artisanal production of the Hellenistic period.


View of Trenches 19, 22, 23, and 24 on Poggio Colla during Week 6 of 2002.

On the acropolis, it gets more and more interesting. The general rectangular layout of the phase 2 and phase 3 buildings is clear, but the details are still in question. That we have a sanctuary is by now very clear to me, because of the layout of the structure and surrounding areas, and because the extensive range of finds is now consistent with those of a sanctuary/temple. Particularly interesting are the stone base and circular feature in Robert Vander Poppen's trench, which promise to elucidate details of the layout of the phase 2 sanctuary.


Left: Director Greg Warden with Professesors Luigi Donati and Giovannangelo Camporeale.
Right: Director Michael Thomas.

We were fortunate in the past two weeks to have visits from some distinguished colleagues, Profs. Giovannangelo Camporeale and Luigi Donati of the University of Florence, and Prof. Daniele Vitali, who has been excavating for many years at Monte Bibele and Monterenzio, sites on the other side of the Apennine (north) of the Mugello. We also had a visit this week from Dr. Luca Fedeli, Archaeological Inspector for the Mugello. Their opinions and the lively discussion that ensued during the site tours have been very helpful to us in trying to put together the pieces of evidence unearthed in the last few years. All four of these archaeologists have had extensive experience excavating sites in northern Etruria; they have dealt with exactly the same issues that we face at Poggio Colla. Particularly interesting was the discussion with Daniele Vitali about the great similarity of material culture at Monte Bibele and Poggio Colla in the Hellenistic period. Also fascinating is the fact that the sites to the north of us, on the other side of the mountain, and our site were destroyed at about the same time in the 2nd century BC. Michael Thomas had already suggested, in his article on our bronze coin excavated in 1999, that the destruction of our site results from Roman pacification and road building in this area in the first half of the 2nd century, a conclusion that seems to be supported by evidence at Monte Bibele.


Left: Greg Warden (center) with Dr. Luca Fedeli (right) and friend.
Right: Prof. Daniele Vitali.

This then is the broader picture. As I write this report, rain threatens to halt excavation, but the trench crews are energetically persisting. Only a few days of excavation, but surely a surprise or two as well, remain.

 


Justin Winkler excavating two large pithoi in Trench PC 22.

 


Justin Gosses removing mud brick samples from Trench PF 10 for testing.

 


Suzanne Georges video taping for her documentary on clandestini.

Week 7 - Final Report - Michael Thomas:

Once again the end of the season has come, the trenches are backfilled, the pottery shed has been broken down, and the finds moved back to the museum in Vicchio. Despite the occasional snag, overall students and staff performed well and the season was a success. We did not have the season of sexy finds, but I believe we had a season of information gathering unparalleled at this excavation; I also believe that we are much closer to understanding the important issues on both the top of Poggio Colla (the acropolis) and in the Podere Funghi. These discoveries invite speculation. Such speculation is inevitably part of the scientific process that involves the gathering of evidence, the theoretical assessment of this evidence, and the testing of these theories in subsequent seasons of excavation. So lets take a look at what we have.


2002 Composite Plan of Poggio Colla.

Below in the Podere Funghi, we seem to have a good sense of the building. Clearly now we have at least a two-roomed house/workshop with kilns. The room with the hearth seems to be a habitation and at this time we can speculate that the north room was perhaps a work area. There now seem to be two levels of habitation with first phase tiles used as floor packing. The actual level of the floor was plowed out in PF 6, but we know we have a floor level in PF 5 at the level of the hearth. I am considering leaving that section un-excavated as a documentation of the floor level.


View of Trenches PF 6, 9 and 10 from the south at the end of the 2002 season.

The importance of this area was actually well illustrated by PF 12, a trench that turned up little other than large deposits of fine clay. Although this clay, not a wall, seems to be the anomaly found in the resistivity survey of Dario Monna and Ivo Brunner, we are happy with this discovery. The presence of clay here and in the fields nearby (we saw a huge profile of clay in a trench dug by a backhoe in the field next to the Podere Funghi) confirms our suspicion that there was plenty of natural clay available for pottery production. As evidenced by kilns and kiln wasters found in other parts of the hill, Poggio Colla and the surrounding hillsides may have been an area of significant pottery production. The Podere Funghi gives us a glimpse into one of these small production centers.


View of Trench PF 12 from the west at the end of the 2002 season.


Results of resistivity prospection in an area of the Podere Funghi.

The top of the hill is equally interesting. At this time we can only speculate as to the function and appearance of this building, but as I said above, informed speculation based on available evidence is part of the archaeological process. I am starting to have my doubts that the large rectangle that we have posited was a temple may, in fact, be something else. Several clues have suggested to me that we may have, at least during Phase III, a courtyard building. We have found little evidence of roof falls in the center of our monumental rectangle. Instead we have evidence of large amounts of tile (some used as packing) in rooms on the exterior (for example in PC 9, 22, and 24). Moreover, it seems that there were structures or rooms on at least three sides of the rectangular foundations (PC 1,8,9,22, and 24). This then invited the possibility that the rectangle is instead an exterior space. Within this space, whether interior or exterior, we were able to identify at least one, and perhaps two floor levels this summer. PC 22 and 23 showed evidence of a burned floor level, with mud brick on top as if a wall collapsed onto a floor. In PC 23 there were some smashed vessels underneath the wall. The large pithos in PC 22 clearly seems to sit on a floor level with wall collapse on top of it.


View from the west of the east-west axis of the 2002 trenches on the arx of Poggio Colla.

 

Candace Grove, Aaron Bartels, and Russell Moore excavate pithoi with seeds from PC 22..

The presence of seeds in these pithoi again forces us to ask about the nature of the building. We cannot ignore the evidence that the acropolis functioned, at least in part, as a sanctuary. The combination of the hilltop location, votive items, and dressed architectural blocks certainly seem to point to some kind of sanctuary with monumental architecture. The blocks in PC 23 may have belonged to an altar or perhaps the foundations of a smaller structure. But all of this evidence seems to point to Phase II; the votive-like finds associated with this complex seem to predate stratigraphically and stylistically the Phase III building. The same can be said for the blocks in PC 23. We also have to recognize that, as of now, there is no conclusive evidence of Phase II construction in the exterior rooms mentioned above. So what does this all mean? At this point it is tough to say, but we may have to consider that the appearance and function of the building changed between Phase II and III. It may be that there were no "exterior" structures during Phase II, and that only during Phase III were they added.


View of Trench PC 23 from the east at the end of the 2002 field season.

I am already looking forward to next year and addressing the issues discussed above. We shall finish excavation in the Podere Funghi and begin the process of studying and publishing that area. Once it is done, then we can concentrate on the top of the hill and finish the majority of excavation there, I hope, in another five years. In the meantime, we have an entire off-season to digest this year's information. Greg and I shall present material at both the Etruscans Now conference at the British Museum in December and at the AIA meetings in New Orleans in early January.


Lynn Makowsky, Susan McIntyre, and Rebecca Lanthorne
pass buckets of dirt to backfill Trench PC 23 at the end of the season.

I have to thank all of the students and staff for a very productive season. Despite car breakdowns, heat waves, torrential rain, and a cold that went around, everyone was in good spirits (well most everyone and most of the time) and everyone, both students and staff, should be commended.


View of Trenches PF 11, 6, and 9 from the south at the end of the 2002 season.

 


Architect Jess Galloway making final drawings in the Podere Funghi trenches.

 


Robert Vander Poppen holds the ladder while Greg Warden shoots final photos of trenches on the arx.

 


Kirk Nickel assists Michael Thomas in shooting final photos at dawn.

 


At season's end, architect Jess Galloway draws every trench by hand
to complement the AutoCad map generated from the Total Station survey.

 


Final view of 2002 trenches on the arx of Poggio Colla. Left: PC 24. Back: PC 19 and 22. Foreground: PC 23.

 


Ashley Bennett, Robert Vander Poppen, and Sarah Titus backfilling Trenches PC 22 and 23.


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