2002 TRENCHES PF 6
Robert Belanger, Field Supervisor
Reports from the end of the field season
of Trenches PF 6 and 9, Robert "Base" Belanger.
Week 1 - Provided as
Trench PF 9 represents
the latest in a series of MVAP excavations in the Podere Funghi,
a lightly sloping hill approximately 500 meters southeast of
the main hilltop arx of Poggio Colla. The initial decision to
excavate this now fallow field (a former cornfield still affectionately
referred to as the "Field of Dreams," or "FOD"
for short) in the Colle al Bosco was determined in the Spring
of 1998 during a field-walking survey done after mechanical deep
plowing of the area revealed several zones of high ceramics concentration.
During the excavation of Trench PF 1 that year, an impressive
array of domestic Etruscan ceramic wares were discovered in a
presumed midden site in the western center of the field, prompting
further expansion northward with 1999's Trench PF 2. After two
seasons in this area, and with subsequent test trenches PF 3
and 4 in the center of the field reaching bedrock, the decision
was reached in 2000 to excavate a particular zone of high tile
concentration 50+ meters away on the northeast crest of the hill
in the hopes of discovering the remnants of an Etruscan structure.
The results were highly rewarding--Trench PF 5 conclusively certified
Etruscan habitation of the Podere Funghi with its three intersecting
foundation walls, circular hearth, and varied metal, ceramic,
and bone finds. Considering the location of the hearth in the
northeast profile and the abutting walls protruding into the
northeast and southwest profiles, in 2001 two trenches were mapped
out in the Podere Funghi--Trench PF 6 concentrated on the 5 x
5 meter grid square to the north, while Trench PF 7 occupied
the 5 x 5 meter grid square to the west.
The results of last season
were quite intriguing. Trench PF 6 established the continuance
of the two northeasterly running foundation walls, a large tile
fall within a thick pocket of burned carbon (most likely the
decayed roof timbers of the structure), and a quarter of a kiln
footprint in the immediate northwest corner; while Trench PF
7 unearthed a complete footprint for an updraft kiln, two terminal
corners of the foundation walls, and a final kiln footprint straddled
by the northeasterly-running foundation wall between Trenches
PF 5 and 7. Additional GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) surveys
undertaken midway through the 2001 season led to the excavation
of the exploratory Trench PF 8 on an intriguing elevated plateau
in the immediate southeast corner of the field, which exposed
a northeasterly-running, stone covered deep modern (1930s) drainage
ditch. After reviewing the data of the past four years, it has
been determined that the goal of the next few seasons will be
to complete the excavation of the Etruscan structure at the northern
end of the field, rather than expand into other areas. As of
this time, GPR, field-walking, and resistivity surveys have been
inconclusive as to Etruscan habitation in areas other than the
presumed midden and structure; and publication of the aforementioned
areas has been deemed a high priority. As such, work will center
on working outward from the area of the structure already previously
excavated during the 2002 season, via 5 x 5 meter grid squares
to the north, west, and east of Trench PF 6 (as the area south
of Trenches PF 5 & 7 is seemingly sterile), with Trench PF
9 denoting the 5 x 5 meter area immediately north of Trench PF
6. The aim of this trench is to further define the context of
the kilns, isolate the dimensions of the tile fall, and determine
the extent of the northeasterly running foundation walls, in
the hopes of ultimately fully defining the dimensions, form and
function of the Etruscan structure(s) situated on the northern
crest of the Podere Funghi.
The past week has been quite productive,
incorporating a number of unexpected changes which have profoundly
impacted both the excavation of the trench and the crew responsible
for doing so. Initially the excavation plan of Trench PF 9 called
for a standardized stratigraphic peel of all strata, beginning
in Loci 3 and 4 and then progressing into Loci 1 and 2 once the
surface level was down to the approximate depth reached in Trench
PF 6 last year. This plan was significantly altered early this
week with the decision to reopen Trench PF 6, a decision made
with the purpose of excavating out the tile fall and documenting
the layers underneath it to better understand the form, function,
and dimensions of the structure on the northern hillcrest of
the Podere Funghi.
View of Trenches PF 6 and 9 during Week 4.
This shift in excavation planning, combined
with the completion of Trench PF 11 and subsequent reassignment
of staff members to oversee a new trench on the main arx of Poggio
Colla, has affected the dispersal of available personnel between
both trenches. Meg Common has regrettably been reassigned to
Trench PC 24 until further notice, and I have been given two
additional excavators, Rebecca Lanthorne and Joe Cosentino, to
join my current crew to excavate Trench PF 6 for these next few
weeks. I am excited to have these two excavators on board for
the remainder of the season, but losing a crewmember familiar
with both the stratigraphy and excavation methodology of the
area to another trench in the process was a truly unfortunate
Left: Joe Cosentino working in Trench PF 9. Right: Rebecca Lanthorne
digging in PF 6.
With these new changes in manpower, the
remainder of the second pass through Stratum 2A in Loci 3 and
4 of Trench PF 9 was expediently and efficiently removed by Rebecca,
Ivo, and Jen by midweek, exposing the entire area at the level
of the kiln footprints and the tile fall. Now that this area
has been completely exposed to the same level throughout both
loci, it offers a particularly interesting look into the relationship
of the features to each other within the context of the same
level stratigraphic level. Certainly, another pass through the
stratum should do much to better understand the relationship
of both the kilns and the tile fall within the context of the
structure as a whole, but it must be postponed for the time being.
This pass will not come for another week at the minimum, as the
top priority has now been placed on working through the lower
levels in Trench PF 6, to explore the extent of the tile fall
in the interior of the structure and hopefully ascertain the
depth of the occupation level in the process. This in itself
is quite a task, for the tile fall feature exposed last season
at the Stratum 2A level (Please see Trench PF 6 2001 Final Excavation
Report) was quite expansive in its breadth and included numerous
diagnostic tile sections. Thus, as of the completion of this
past pass, the excavation in Unit PF 9 was halted to dedicate
all crewmembers to the continued excavation of Trench PF 6, the
5 x 5 meter grid square directly south of Trench PF 9.
der Graaff excavating in Trench PF 9.
Jenny Muslin digging in
Trench PF 6.
This was begun while the above pass was
still being completed early last week, with Joe and I removing
backfill from Trench PF 6 with additional assistance from Administrative
Intern Susan McIntyre, who volunteered to excavate with us for
the week. After completing the pass in Trench PF 9, the others
quickly joined us, and a massive effort was soon underway. Removing
backfill from Trench PF 6 was the necessary first step in resuming
excavations therein, for at the end of last year the excavated
soil was filled back into the trench over a layer of green mesh
marking the last excavated level, both to protect the unexcavated
soil and to preserve the exposed features from the elements until
the time when excavation would resume. This soil needed to be
removed again before excavation of the trench could resume this
year, a task easily achieved with picks and shovels by the end
of the week, thanks in no small part to the hard work of all
those mentioned above. The mesh was not lifted after the removal
of all this soil however, but rather left in-situ over the weekend
to protect the final excavated level of the trench from the elements.
Next week excavation will resume in the trench after cleaning
up this level, commencing work in the tile fall for the first
time in almost a year.
Crew at work in Trench PF 6, originally opened in 2001.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the
work which has been completed over this shortened week and look
forward immensely to the excavation of both trenches over the
course of these final few weeks in the Podere Funghi. Much knowledge
has already been gained from the exposure of Loci 3 and 4 in
Trench PF 9 at its current Stratum 2A level, and with the prospect
of exploring the lower levels of the tile fall in Trench PF 6
so close at hand, these next few weeks certainly promise to be
a memorable experience for all those involved.
and The Return of the Banana Pants.
This fifth week of excavation
in the Podere Funghi has brought with it a number of minor changes
stemming from the torrential downpours which slammed the Mugello
Valley, but nevertheless a number of interesting and important
discoveries were revealed by the close of excavation for the
right: Joe Cosentino, Ivo van der Graaff, Jenny Muslin,
Rebecca Lanthorne, and Base Belanger excavating PF 6 after heavy
With the removal of backfill
from Trench PF 6 finally completed, work commenced with the excavation
of the tile fall in the trench's southern two loci, Loci 3 and
4, moving northward from the southern border of the trench at
a depth of 7 centimeters. This pass was quickly adjusted to a
depth of 15 centimeters when it was discovered that the tile
fall was sloping downhill to the north at approximately that
depth, and a number of interesting diagnostic tile pieces were
removed and saved on-site for analysis at a later date. These
pieces will play an integral role in understanding the interlocking
terracotta roofing system of the structure, and by saving diagnostic
corner pieces, the minimum number of tiles on site can be determined,
as well as the number needed for the entire roof on the whole.
The majority of the work in the trench was dedicated to the removal
of these pieces this week, and by week's end an area of approximately
2.5 x 5 meters of tile had been covered by the tile sections.
Dr. Patricia Lulof, a tile and roofing system specialist from
the University of Amsterdam, hopefully will analyze these sections
upon her visit to the site next week.
Roof tile from this season's
excavation of Trenches PF 6 and 9.
Beneath one of the largest
tiles being excavated in Locus 3, Jen discovered three small
black glaze sherds with red painted designs imbedded in a pocket
of particularly moist soil not far from the eastern foundation
wall. These sherds are particularly important as a datable artifact
for the site, for the rouletting patterns painted on the sherds
have been identified by Dr. Ann Steiner as a specific decorative
element used on a particular type of skyphos produced in Volterra
roughly between 325 - 275 B.C. This assessment is contiguous
with the generalized typology of the late 4th and early 3rd century
roof tiles, and when combined with the vernacular rubble-packed
construction of the foundation walls, it is fairly conclusive
that the current level of the structure being excavated is Hellenistic
in date. This particular discovery highlights the benefits of
having both a first-rate conservator and black glaze specialist
on site, and I would like to thank both Karen Stamm and Dr. Ann
Steiner for their excellent and expedient treatment of these
black glaze sherds.
Ivo van der Graaff and Base Belanger working in Trench PF 6.
Regrettably, the tile
fall was exposed to the punishing rains of the Mugello Valley
early this week after we were sent up to the site to uncover
the trenches and work through it, and as such it is completely
saturated with water. In order to give this section of the trench
a chance to dry out, everyone began working on definition of
the foundation walls in the trench and the removal of the dry
soil to the west of the western foundation wall, a necessary
task which will now allow us to give our undivided attention
to the excavation of the tile fall for the remainder of the season.
Although the rains have caused a change in the excavation schedule,
overall it has been a successful week due to the hard work of
my excavation crew, and I thank them for machoing out the tough
conditions and getting a great deal of work accomplished in the
Lanthorne at the edge of PF 6.
The crew of Trenches PF 6 and 9 excavating the tile fall.
Kilns in Trench PF 9.
of the 2002 Trenches PF 6 and 9, left to right: Joe Cosentino,
Jenny Muslin, Robert Belanger, Rebecca Lanthorne, and Ivo van
This sixth week of excavation
has brought with it a number of interesting developments in the
interpretation of the trench and the structure on the northern
hillcrest of the Podere Funghi as a whole. These developments
were due primarily to the hard work of my excavation crew and
were spurred along by the return of milder, drier climates to
the Mugello Valley now that last week's storm front has finally
blown clear of Italy.
level in Trenches PF 6 and 9 during Week 6.
Despite the return of
drier weather, it was necessary nevertheless to remain clear
of the tile fall area for an additional day in order to give
it a chance to fully dry out. As such, cleanup of the western
and eastern foundation walls resumed in Trench PF 6, while work
began in the dry southernmost extremity of the trench to determine
whether the tile fall extended further to the south. During the
course of the latter, it was discovered that a crosswall of loosely
packed stones and tiles existed between the two foundation walls,
built in the same Hellenistic rubble-packed fashion as the main
western and eastern foundation walls running northeasterly through
both Trenches PF 6 and 9. This crosswall is situated at roughly
the same elevation, and may demarcate an interior wall dividing
the Etruscan structure into two chambers. However, this cannot
be substantiated without further excavation of the structure
to the south, and it is also just as possible that this crosswall
was an architectural element incorporated into the design as
a structural element to bolster support for the main weight-bearing
western and eastern foundation walls. Even so, both Jen and Rebecca
have been concentrating on the definition of this wall and the
areas of the tile fall around it, so hopefully a clearer picture
of the crosswall will become available by the close of the excavation
year next week.
Closer view of tile and
foundation wall in Trench PF 6 during Week 6 of excavation.
The highlight of the
week was a visit from Dr. Patricia Lulof, a tile and roofing
system specialist from the University of Amsterdam, a visit which
coincided perfectly with the renewed excavation of the tile fall
for the first time in several days. Prior to her visit, Ivo and
Joe had isolated and defined several unique tile sections with
diagnostic edges in addition to those previously saved for analysis
on the green mesh from earlier weeks, providing both an in-situ
and excavated context for her to analyze. Dr. Lulof was able
to identify the roof tiles as a type roughly datable to the late
4th to early 3rd century B.C., an assessment contiguous with
the dating of the black glaze sherds found in the same tile fall
by Dr. Steiner last week. When this information is combined with
a generalized pottery typology of the site and a look into the
building style of the foundation walls, all evidence points rather
conclusively to the structure as being Hellenistic in date. Again,
the value of having visiting scholars on-site during the excavation
year cannot be underestimated, and as such I would like to thank
Dr. Lulof for her valuable insights and interpretations on the
Above and below: details
of the roof tile in Trench PF 6.
View of Trenches PF 6 and 9 with Field Supervisor Robert Belanger
in the foreground. Ivo van der Graaff, Jenny Muslin, and Joe
take levels in PF 6. Rebecca Cooper reclines to work in the corner
of PF 10.
right: Jenny Muslin, Joe Cosentino, Rebecca Lanthorne,
and Ivo van der Graaff triangulate points in Trench PF 9.
Belanger draws Trenches PF 6 and 9 for his field book.
Now that the 2002 season
has finally completed its seventh and last week, a few posthumous
notes on the season are in order, to better widen the scope of
the site as a whole, as well as the impact that the excavation
of Trenches PF 6 and 9 has had on its interpretation. But before
this, I must mention my undying thanks to my fantastic crew throughout
the season--Meg Common, Joe Cosentino, Ivo Van Der Graaff, Rebecca
Lanthorne, and Jennifer Muslin--without whose hard work this
season would not have been nearly as successful as it was.
Ivo van der Graaff and Robert Belanger finishing excavation in
Trenches PF 6 and 9.
Photo by Joe Cosentino.
OVERALL CONCLUSIONS -
TRENCHES PF 6 and 9
Age of Structure: Hellenistic*
Occupants of Structure:
Form of Structure: Rubble-packed
foundation walls dug into natural sandstone bedrock; wattle and
daub walls supported by wooden timbers; interlocking terracotta
roofing system with wooden roof frame supports; two interior
chambers with packed-earth clay floor built atop tile and rubble
floor packing; open north face. Two possible structures, two
building phases. At least 5 exterior kilns, possibly 1 more.
Function of Structure:
Domestic and commercial finds, combined with midden
Trenches PF 1 and 2, and five confirmed exterior kilns, point
structural usage for ceramics production. Possible domestic usage
will require further excavation to verify.
Dimensions of Structure:
7 x 4 meters, two interior chambers with 3.5 x 3.5
meter interior area. Distance between "post-pad" stones
on western and eastern foundation walls is 7 meters, distance
of crosswall to exterior edges of western and eastern foundation
walls is 4 meters. Dimensions require 128 pan tiles, 150 cover
tiles, and 15 ridge pole tiles to cover the structure's roof
at a roof pitch of 10 degrees.
(*Evidence for site age
as Hellenistic confirmed by multiple specialists:
1. Structural - Vernacular rubble-packed construction methods
walls follows Hellenistic regional patterns.
2. Ceramic - Volterran black glaze skyphos sherds discovered
amid floor packing dated by specialist Dr. Ann Steiner of Franklin
& Marshall College to between ca. 325 - 275 B.C., solidly
within Hellenistic time period.
3. Tile - Diagnostic tiles discovered amid floor packing dated
by specialist Dr. Patricia Lulof of the University of Amsterdam
to late Archaic manufacture at the earliest, predominant use
in Hellenistic times.)
Trenches PF 6 (foreground) and 9 from the south at the end of
the 2002 season.
View from the south of Trench PF 6 at the end of the 2002 field
and below: views of Trenches 6 and 9 (foreground) from the north
at end of the 2002 season.
Ivo van der Graaff and Jenny Muslin make final drawings of the
scarp in PF 9.
Clockwise from lower left: Andy Bozanic finishes excavating a
Robert Belanger, Ivo van der Graaff, and Jess Galloway draw trench
plans and elevations.
Ivo van der Graaff, Jenny Muslin, Robert Belanger, and Jess Galloway
make final drawings of the scarp and ground plans of Trenches
PF 6 and 9.
Roof tile from PF 6 loaded
for delivery to the conservation lab.