2002 STUDENT DIARIES

 


FOD Men. Left to right, top to bottom: Ivo van der Graaff, Michael Joyce, Justin Gosses,
Robert Belanger, Andy Bozanic, Joe Cosentino, and Connor McMahon.

Week 1 - Meg Common:

To tell the truth, I was really afraid on Saturday morning. Here I was, getting ready to go down to Fiumicino, meet most of the other students on the dig, get on a bus and go to the place I would call my home away from home for seven weeks. I had been living in Rome for three years by this point, and thought that I was going to meeting a bunch of Americans who had no idea on how to handle being in a foreign country. Happily, I was surpassed when I reached the airport: I met a group of people who were excited and informed about Italy and the dig. Schooling ranged from archaeology students in college to those who had just finished graduate school in subjects as odd as divinity!

After a night of getting to know people, Sunday we began tours of the two sites on which we could be working: the Podere Fungi, a pottery production building, and Poggio Colla, an area that could possibly be a temple due to the finds there and also the fact that it had been given the prominent position on top of the hill. We learned that the two areas had been given designations as the FOD (Field of Dreams) for the Podere Fungi, and the Hill, for Poggio Colla.


Meg Common (second from left) and crew excavating in Trench PF 9.

Monday morning we began the first day of what we though was going to be excavation. Starry eyed, our group arrived at the FOD, trowels in hand, waiting for the fun to begin… oh yeah, and the learning. Little did we know that we would soon know what it felt like to be mid-western housewives (minus the Bridges of Madison County and the Jeep Grand Cherokees). Pruning and sweeping were our jobs: clearing out the trenches to have a nice, clean surface from which to dig. Though this all sounds mundane, two good things came of it. First, the three trenches in the FOD looked like the surface of the moon. But, probably more importantly, I realized that watching Martha Stewart had paid off. No really, it was good for all of us, because we all came to understand that archaeology is not always go go go; it requires a certain amount of planning and careful preparation of the site. This is not Indiana Jones, kids; this is work.

Tuesday our groups switched, and those that had been on the FOD went to the Hill and vice versa. "Finally, some actual excavation!" we thought. "Those other kids have already done the sweeping up!" oh yes, friends, they had, and they had also began the removal of the backfill. You see, it seems that every year here, after a trench has been excavated and the season is over, the dirt that has been removed and sifted is then put back in the trench to protect the features and such from the environment over the fall and winter. A tarp is placed between the excavated area and the backfill so we don't remove the actual features. Mud wrestling, anyone? Because that's almost what it was, digging on top of the hill through waterlogged dirt. After a while, I abandoned the gardening gloves and just went with my hands in the mud…and suddenly, after a few hours later, we lifted the tarp to find the features of PC 19… and I felt a sense of accomplishment… we were seeing wall from more than 2000 years ago!

Wednesday and Thursday were a blur of the same stuff; every day I seemed to be cleaning up or clipping, dreaming of the day when my trowel would finally be christened with some soil. It happened Friday, when I was working in PF 9, Base's trench, with my two good friends Ivo and Jenny. Though we were suppose to go down only 5 centimeters through the plow zone, the American in me made a mistake and went down 5 inches (I remember thinking, "My fate is sealed! They'll never want me in any trench!") Instead, it turned out to be a mistake for the better: I found what was at that time believed to be the flute of one of the kilns (the 'door' of the kiln where the wind of the valley would have been channeled in order to stoke the fire). My first discovery! It was not a statue or a coin, but it was something that I had discovered that hadn't been seen in more that 2000 years. Perhaps it was fate, because I knew from that point on that the FOD would have to be my home… now if the trench assignments would come and I would know if my prediction was true!

My finds for the week: a six inch slug hiding in the wall of PC 19, color: white with black spots, conclusion: thrown into the tile dump…while sweeping the floor of PC 19, found spongy substance, color: green with yellow eyes, conclusion: post-hibernation toad set free in the woods… and kiln flute in PF 9, color: reddish-pink, conclusion: I am archaeology goddess.

Week 1 - Aaron Bartels:


Aaron Bartels excavating in Trench PC 19.

After three days of rampant touring in Rome I am finally going to Poggio Colla. This is my first archaeological dig and although I have traveled to Europe often I have never been to Italy. On Saturday morning I met most of the dig's students at the Fiumicino airport, we exchanged names and life stories and then napped on the long ride to the town of Vicchio. We arrived at the hotel Vigna where we would be staying for the next few months, unpacked, met roommates and finally proceeded to the lawn chairs on the other side of the house. At the edge of a steep hill the view was amazing with the slight curve of the bright green vineyard that stretches out to more fields broken by patches of forest and scattered houses, all framed by the blue folds of hills. I relaxed a bit and quickly got to know the other students better. Soon Bepina and Bruno brought out the greatest Italian food and everyone swarmed, stuffed themselves and returned to the view. With dusk the fireflies came out and we chatted until we were exhausted. Sunday we slept in and then were driven out to the site more than 2 hours walking distance from our new home. Michael gave us the grand tour of the Podere de Funghi, which may be a pottery-manufacturing site, and then up to the Poggio Colla, which is the main site, possibly a temple. The night was the same as last with great food and more getting acquainted.


Rainbow over the Mugello Valley from the excavation house in Vespignano.

Monday was the first day of excavation for me on the Field of Dreams (Podere de Funghi) and it was extremely hot and tedious work, clipping plants, sweeping dirt and taking levels in Katie's and Base's trenches so they would be ready for digging tomorrow. The night was fun because we found a creaking set of swings above the house. Tuesday I got to work on the hill (Poggio Colla) in VPs trench (PC 19) exhausting myself clearing out backfill followed by more tedious clipping and sweeping. Wednesday I alternated back to the F.O.D. again with Katy, removed 15cm of topsoil. I found my first artifacts and was pretty excited, which included some fine ware pottery sherds. The rest of the week was spent alternating from the F.O.D. to the hill, getting a feel for excavating and sifting, followed by nights eating and relaxing as the sun set. I found many different kinds of pottery but Friday on the hill in VPs trench I found the first bronze "chunk" of the season. Next week we will be assigned a trench for the rest of the season: I would be happy with the hill as it is well shaded and has cool architecture and possible finds but the F.O.D. is new to the excavation here and could explain much about daily Etruscan life. I am sick of doing all this menial slave labor just to clean things up but it should be worth it once I get to actually excavating. This week I learned the importance of water, especially with people passing out. This weekend I went with a group of nine to Florence and had a fantastic time visiting the Duomo and climbing to the top, walking along the beautiful Arno river and the interesting shops, bridges and bazaars. A nine-person group complicated things and in the end each chose sides but generally things went well. It was good to have a break form the back wrenching work but two days were not enough.

Scorpions are bad, very bad. I was not aware of this until Monday morning. Sure, I had seen the things on the Discovery Channel and heard that the non- poisonous-though-just-as-painful kind resided here in the Mugello, but I did not heed the warning. Not even when Mike, a fellow student, captured one in the bathroom of Vigna with a discarded toilet paper roll did I listen. But now it has come too close to home: this morning I felt a slight tickling on my leg and looked down to find a nice two-incher on my calf (though at that time it seemed more like ten inches!) I quickly sent it flying with my brush but let me tell you: now I check all my garments and such before getting near them!


Trench PF 9 and crew in the foreground, with the rest of the FOD in the background.

Though I was still in a site of utter horror when the rides came to take us to the site, I was relieved when I heard that our trench assignments had been given. I was to work with the same crew from last Friday: Ivo and Jen in PF 9, with Base as our fearless and 'outspoken' leader. We learned the real way to use the trowel and the sifter, each day feeling more and more like real archaeologists (by examining the calluses on our hands and the excavator's tan on our lower backs!) We finished our first pass at 10 centimeters on Thursday, finding some small pottery sherds and what seemed to be the beginnings of a tile fall and a wall in the eastern area of locus 4 and the western of locus 3. At this point, even though the sense of discovery was strong, still couldn't see the site the way that Base explained it to us: seemed like plow zone still with odd rocks and pieces of odd tile (though I did find pottery sherds with the bi-chrome coloration signature of this production area). After photos and measuring of our first pass, we began the second, and things really began to take shape, even though we had only one day before the weekend: Base began to define the kiln, or multiple kilns, Ivo had what seemed to be the tile fall we were looking for which extended from PF 6, I had a large stone which as probably wall, and Jen… well, not much but what seemed to be an area of exterior space, the second stratum. I can't wait to get back to work on Monday… we are finally getting somewhere!

Finds for this week: aside from various pottery sherds and tile pieces, I didn't really find anything… except in the comfort of such a team I found myself… sucka! I actually found that my team is the best at movie trivia and the hill can't compete at all… I mean, really, what other trench knows the building that Elizabeth Shue hung out of at the end of Adventures in Baby-sitting! Come on!

Week 2 - Aaron Bartels:

I was finally assigned to Justin's trenches on the hill and am really excited to work with him. He is extremely methodical and patient, having been at this excavation since its beginning. His quiet, businesslike nature has defined work on the hill, and everyone is churning through their passes efficiently. However, VP helps to balance us out from his other trench on the hill, cracking jokes and testing our knowledge of Kurt Russell's filmic career. My first few days in Trench PC 19, I excavated the eastern side and soon found a strange new formation later dubbed Feature A. It is a continuation of the northern wall that strangely curves northeast for a meter and then returns north, creating a walled space similar to a closet in size. This feature makes no sense since it was thought that the site was originally a temple, which would generally consist of straight walls but now we may be looking at a temple that was later rearranged for differing uses such as an elite dwelling, defensive structure or storehouse. Everyone speculates the thing to death, but Justin remains calm and cool, waiting for the results of our next passes. I found a variety of pottery in all the areas of Trench 19 that I worked and was glad to blast through two full passes.


Aaron Bartels and Caitlin Vacanti excavating.

The afternoons are similar to last week as we all basically come home to Vigna and crash, talk, do laundry and generally wind down until lecture, which takes an hour before dinner. Twice weekly we make runs to the Coop supermarket to stock up on essentials like Pringles, Coke and great cheap red wine, which have become the staples of snacks and dinners. After dinner and some chatting everyone is too tired from a long day of digging and we work our way to bed. The shower poodle has become infamous; coined by the ever-witty Michael Thomas, one often must remove the hair clumps which clog Italy's small pipes.

This weekend we went to Florence again as part of a museum fieldtrip, but as usual the museum's employees struck and we were left to wander the city. I came back with some friends (aka "the swingers" because we rock and meet at the swings to talk) on Sunday and we laid around most of the time complaining about work, jabbering on about movies, politics, religion etc.… until we threw together a barbecue, drank some wine and called it a night. We also watched the World Cup final, which is life here in Italy, even if they lose in the semi-finals. I cannot wait for next week.

Week 3 - Aaron Bartels:

I hate European pop. I'm using the word "hate" here about Euro pop. We have no tapes on the hill so we are forced to listen to horrible remixes of Elvis, polka and pathetic mimicry of American pop and hip hop over the radio. In my trench Justin's assistant, Caitlin, had the genius to bring her CD player with speakers, but the batteries died halfway through Aerosmith so we were forced to revert back to the pain that is Euro pop. Nevertheless I have come to love my trench and our strange little curving wall, which has thrown all preconceptions about the hill out of whack. We are pulling 10cm passes now in less than two days and running into more pottery with each pass than any other group. The area within Feature A has yielded five pieces of metal work, many seeds and what seems now to be a monolithic block foundation beneath the walls, which parallels previous excavations.


The monolithic block in Trench PC 19.

I found what may be the base and body to a huge coarseware pithos or storage vessel that corresponds to other pithoi rims and body sherds that Justin and Caitlin are finding across from me in what is now considered roof tile fall which layered the habitation level of the site.


Rim of pithos exposed in Trench PC 19.

Generally everyone on the dig is very nice but after a few days of living in the dirt, breathing the dirt, wearing the dirt and finding that somehow the dirt has made it from our "cleaned" hands to our sandwiches at lunch, we get a little cranky. I actually enjoy it now, since I know that no shower can remove this pseudo dirt tan that is my skin or the taste. Wine does help to forget it and at three euro a popped cork I cannot complain.

The four-day weekend is at hand and it's off to Rome, Sperlonga and Herculaneum or Pompeii for The Swingers. It will be good to clear the dirt from the lungs and see Roma again; while there I have to remember to buy some CD's to compensate for the Euro pop pain that is the hill.

Week 3 - Meg Common:

This week was definitely the most fruitful week we've had so far. Not to say that the patience and backaches we received from pruning weren't rewarding, but this week we actually began to see things (mostly features) appearing in the soil. Firstly, while Ivo was following out the tile fall that extends south to north beginning in locus 4, he found the burned remnants in the earth of what appears to have been a roof beam of some sort. Base took two carbon samples of this feature so that later the type of wood the Etruscans used can be analyzed. Base spent most of his time defining the kilns that were found in the western half of that same locus. It seems that there were several kilns in this area, at least one of which seems to have been built right over top of two older ones! The marks in the earth from where these kilns are deceptive, though, and it is hard to tell what curves they seem to be making and how much of their locations are due to being plowed-out over the 2000 years this area was used for farming… the search continues. Jen continued with me in locus 3, dealing mostly with following stratum 2 of the exterior space. She did, however, find the first pottery sherd actually big enough to be triangulated: a large beginning of a coarseware handle. In my area of Locus 3, I followed three rocks that follow the course of the wall already discovered last year in PF 6. On the end of Wednesday, I reached the end of my area and found a rock which had cracks filled with dense, grey clay that was used as wall packing and a circular area which it hugged that was also filled with the same substance. Base conjectures at this point that it may possibly be the rock area that held a post of the building anchored to the ground, though no one really knows until we open the northern two loci if the wall actually continues or not. Again, same sense of accomplishment, but now more refined: I have pride in knowing I can distinguish between different sorts of earth found in my area. I am one with the dirt, as the floor of the shower at Vigna aptly shows.


Field Supervisor of PF 9, Robert Belanger, explaining
finds excavated by Meg Common and crew.

Also, just to note, there is nothing better to cure the seemingly monotonous (though, granted, rewarding) motion of pickax, trowel, sifting than trench-dancing. Though perhaps we are not the first to do so, Jen and I definitely blow the competition out of the… um… field… when it comes to our rhythmical stylings to such classics as I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls (don't get us started on Duran Duran… we seem to know every word to every song ever made by them). We like to believe that the Etruscans, working hard in their little pottery plant, liked to rock out in the same way… ok, maybe not. But, then again, I don't think they would have gotten the same vibe from Mexican Radio by Wall of Voodoo…

Finds for this week: Definitely the packing clay and the rock forming the wall. However, the discovery of my groove and Jen's likewise discovery definitely made the week complete: I feel like J-Lo when she was just a Fly Girl on In Living Color.

Week 3 - Rebecca Cooper:


Rebecca Cooper (second from right) with fellow trenchmates Andy,
Hillery, and Michael, cleaning pottery finds from Trench PF 10.

Well, we're close to completing our third week of excavation. Life in PF 10 can be described as hot, dirty, and generally, pretty fun. While we may not have a trench as full of mysteries as those on the hill, we have come across a few things in the past week that have lent us motivation to continue digging through the sun-baked dirt. Last week, I came across a strange carbon deposit that we have designated as a trench "feature." Since then, it has slowly grown in size as we excavated more and more of it. It's exciting, but also a bit frustrating not to have any clues as to its true purpose. The popular theory for the moment (and my favorite) is that we've uncovered the remains of a wall beam. Amazing that any part of that could survive for so long, considering the plowing that goes on.


Rebecca Cooper excavating in center of trench (black shirt).

Yesterday and today, my fellow trench-mates (Andy, Hillary, and our assistant supervisor Michael Joyce) and I spent some time watching Katy excavate two beautiful fineware vessels from locus one. Watching her work with the dental tools and produce such perfect examples of what can be found was a great experience. But it also makes me wish that we found things like that more often. Still, you can't complain when you've finally (after three weeks) mastered the art of identifying soil change just by the way it scrapes off your trowel. That's a skill you can only acquire in the field. And, considering that I'm an Art Historian, I have to say that there's a sense of unexpected pride in feeling a bit like a real archaeologist.

Yes, the work is tiring. However, even with the 7 a.m. start time wearing on all of us, I'm still glad I came. At the end of the day, I'm exhausted, but the meals here are the ultimate pay-off, and you couldn't beat the view from the FOD if you tried. So, as the long weekend approaches, I'd have to say that we've had a pretty good first half. It's been slow going, sometimes. But, down on the FOD, we're all about having fun in spite of the rock-hard dirt and blistering sun. And by the end of the season, I'm willing to bet that we'll even master the art of scarping.

Week 4 - Russell Moore:

Excavation to me…hmmm…let's see. When I think of this excavation I can't help but to think what Forrest Gump might say in this situation - "I dig so much I even dig in my sleep." Although perhaps an overstatement, we definitely get a good taste of what archaeological excavation is all about. Even though the work might be tough some days, I've been having an awesome time. In the four weeks that I've been here, I've learned a great deal, not only in terms of how to excavate properly, but also about the Etruscans in general. So let me give you all a little overview of my experiences here - of week four in particular. Considering the overall dig experience, food, and travel time that we are allowed on the weekends, as well as all of the people that I've come to know, I feel lucky to be a part of the Poggio Colla Field School.


Russell Moore excavating a pithos in PC 19 and 22.

As the other students have probably mentioned, the worst part about each day is the mornings. I mean waking up at 6:00 each morning during the summer doesn't sound too hot to most students' ears. Although the first week was tough, I'm used to it by now, even to the point that I feel like getting up at 8:00 on the weekends is sleeping in. Aside from the troubles of waking up, the hike up the path to Poggio Colla carrying a water jug or the lunches most certainly gets my heart pumping. On the hill, I'm working in Justin's trench (PC 19 and 22). I'm really excited to be working there, especially since we have so much to perplex us. The day starts off with "leaf duty." This consists of picking up all of the little leaves that fall into the trench during the night. After this is done, the digging commences. In our trench, we have several foundation walls, many pottery fragments, carbonized seeds, and several bronze "lumps." In other words, we have many things to make us scratch our heads, or at least make me scratch my head. I'll do you the favor of details so as to prevent putting you further asleep. What fascinates me about this is the idea that this very place was used over two thousand years ago. People were just walking about perhaps, working, etc. But what was this place? For what was this place used? These seem to be the continuing lingering questions of archaeology which hopefully will be answered here at Poggio Colla in the future.

In terms of digging, by week four I feel semi confident that I'm doing a good job - going a decent speed while being careful at the same time. It can be a little nerve racking thinking that there may be some important artifact just below your feet or your trowel. But will you uncover it in one piece or two? So one must be careful. One of the highlights of each week is what I call "sifter talk." While sifting the dirt that we pull out of the trench, there are many weird things that get discussed. One prime example is the on-going conservation between Cately, Candace, and myself on the endless benefits of having a tail. We have decided that tails can be used to swat flies, hold up one's pants (as a belt), sweep one's porch, etc. They could also be used as a decorative motif. One could have different colored tails, braided tails, tails for certain occasions, etc. I guess after a few weeks it is safe to say that being outside in the hot sun will get the best of you.

Apart from all of the digging, there's always the "nightlife." After a shower and a while to relax, there's the lecture at 7:00. The lectures have been great thus far. They have not only broadened my view of this particular site, but they have also given me a sense of how our site fits into the overall picture of Etruria and the Etruscan culture in general. After lectures, there is the amazing experience of dinner. Week four, like every other week, has been fantastic in terms of the food. The food here can be briefly described as, "oh, what a treat!" After dinner and completing the assigned chores, Andrea, Mike, Candace, and I have been playing a card game called Euchre (as Andrea talked about her in entry). When there is not much else to do, card games are a great way to pass the time. And after writing down the day's notes in my trench notebook, it's off the bed to prepare for another wonderful day on the dig.

As Andrea also mentioned, during the long weekend of July 4th, a group of us (Candace, Hilary, Andrea, Mike, Sara, Tamee, and myself) went to Capri. It was wonderful. I could go into much detail, but since we all did pretty much the same things, I'll refer you to Andrea's entry. Unlike Andrea and Candace, however, the other five of us took a day trip to Pompeii. Previously, I had only seen Pompeii in books, but being there was breathtaking. To be walking in the same streets and walking into the same houses that Romans were using everyday up until nearly two thousand years ago is unbelievable. When I got accepted to this dig, one of the trips that I felt I had to make was the trip to visit Pompeii, and it was definitely a must.

Considering the overall dig experience, food, and travel time that we are allowed on the weekends, as well as all of the people that I've come to know, I feel lucky to be a part of the Poggio Colla Field School. And since you are probably droopy eyed by now, I once again refer to Forrest Gump - "And that's all I've got to say about that."

Week 4 - Andrea Mall:

After the heartbreak of finding no third kiln and only the deepest plow marks known to man, I made the monumental switch from the FOD to the hill and this week I began to settle into my new home in PC 24. We began the search for the elusive south building that only a small portion of a mysterious wall indicates its existence. While my enemy down on the FOD was the rock hard dirt, new adversaries have arisen to take the place of my last dreaded enemy in the form of acacia and other blood-loving species. Acacia, for those who haven't had the pleasure of making its acquaintance, is a bush/tree with the worst thorns I have ever seen in my life; I swear this plant has a mind of its own and actively bends to take a chunk out of each individual that passes it by. However, once the acacia was cleared, other dangers still haunted us this week in the new trench. Within our two massive tree stumps lived countless ants, millipedes, three-inch long man-eating beetles wrapped in cocoons made of mulch and a friendly scorpion. But none of these exciting encounters compare to the alien larva we uncovered at the base of the second tree stump. This thing was just nasty and looked somewhat like a small, white lobster with large eyes; the resistivity men informed us that it was actually a flying deer (5 inch flying insect). It's a jungle out there! We struggle on against our horde of crawling critters and there is a lot of hope that the next layer will hold treasures untold which we have already been getting glimpses of.


Andrea Mall at the edge of Trench PC 24.

While entertaining my new obsession: Euchre (some Midwestern card game that Mike taught me, Candace and Russell) we often reminisce about last weekend and our adventures in Capri. Our hotel suite was straight out of MTV's the Real World. Sarah's and my room was up a spiraling iron staircase leading to the rooftop balcony. Villa Eva was ironically run by Eva herself, a crazy Italian women who has an aversion to water usage which she made abundantly clear as we attempted to chill our 4 ounce bottles of sparkling white wine with tap water. But seriously, the place was amazing and had a relaxing pool if you averted your eyes from papa's speedo (papa lived next door to us, lucky us). When we weren't on the hunt for the perfect limoncello bottle, we were enjoying the chairlift to the top of the island that gave an amazing view of the surrounding area, including the rock beach which is not the best to lay out on and makes getting into the water a hairy situation. Our most exciting moment of the weekend, though, was our brush with death in the blue grotto. The blue grotto is an underwater cave with a small opening in which the water is electric blue. We decided to swim into the cave after hours instead of taking the tour boat because the waves were so high no boat even dared come close. The girls (Candace, Sarah, Hillary and Tamee) were immediately petrified upon seeing the minuscule entrance to this cave but I bravely led the excursion into the water as we charged the entrance. I almost paid for this decision with my life as a powerful wave overtook me and I almost slammed into the rocks. However, we survived to tell this bloody tale with only minor injuries such as Sarah's bloody feet. Needless to say, our long weekend was filled with many exhilarating exploits and it prepared us all for another week of slave labor. If this student diary seems a little cheesy or overdone you can thank Mike for that because he paced around me the entire time spouting off catchy phrases to write in.

Week 5 - Rebecca Cooper:

When going on an excavation, my first piece of advice would be to bring rain gear. While this was clearly suggested to me before I began this journey, I've always been stubborn about dressing for the weather. …I sure learned my lesson this week. Water, water everywhere--so much that the trench was soaked, despite the plastic tarp that we lovingly cover it with every evening. On Monday, we came down early. Tuesday and Wednesday, we braved it out, sometimes soaked to the bone under the few trees that we could find for shelter. We ate lunches of soaked bread and dripping lunchmeat. But through it all, we stuck together. Sure, we complained when we couldn't sift the mud. Sure, we whined a bit when our scarps were destroyed, and our carbon feature washed out to cover the entire trench. It got bad, but we hung in there. Katy was incredibly good at keeping us spirited while empathizing with our situation, and the rest of us (as always) were there to make each other laugh. Nothing could stop us. We dug through the mud. We bailed out the corners of the trench. In the end, I think, it showed me that we were more dedicated than I would have guessed. The complaints heard on the hill were largely not for ourselves, but for the lost time and information brought by the unwelcome deluge. It was odd, but after five weeks of praying for clouds on the FOD, we were begging for some sun.


Left to right: Hillery Pous, Katy Blanchard, Andy Bozanic, Michael Joyce,
and Rebecca Cooper, the crew of Trenches PF 10 and 12.

At the end of the week, it finally cleared up, and we got back to routine business for the most part. Routine business now includes work on PF12, a mini-trench that is set back from the neighborhood of PF10 and PF 6 and 9. We began with a 30 centimeter pass, which has turned up very few finds. It's a bit discouraging, but we try to hold out hope. In the meantime, I've been continuing to work in good old trench 10, where I finally pulled up a bit of what we refer to around here as "bling." That's right, I found a lump of metal. Now, for those of you that follow the goings-on of the top of the hill, you might think this is not a noteworthy occurrence. But down on the FOD, it certainly is. And it was pretty darn exciting for me. OK, so it turned out to be just an amorphous clump. Still, perhaps that clump was once a bolt in a door, or a nail in a post. So, all of you may not understand, but to me it was exciting. Trust me. Personally, I believe in a little thing called "trench karma."

In other news, I've purchased a dress in Florence. Why, you ask? Simple. A girl's gotta have something to wear to the FOD Prom. Yep. That's right, we're going to get all dressed up and act ridiculous. Should be a good time. Especially since I'm on the FOD Prom planning committee.

Week 5 - Russell Moore:

Rain = wetness = mud = distraught archaeologist!!! As this suggests, week five of excavation ran into an unfortunate situation - rain, rain, and more rain. And to keep with the Forrest Gump archaeological mentality, I guess I could say, "I've been through every kind of rain there is. A little bit of stinging rain, big ol' fat rain, rain that flew in sideways and some that even seemed to come up from underneath." Although not a complete washout, the rain made digging very difficult, if not impossible, as I quickly realized. When you are digging, it is important to be able to see what's in front of you, obviously. It is also important to be able to see the different coloration of the soil, changes in stratigraphy, etc. In addition, sifting the dirt that is pulled up is a necessity. However, when the soil is basically mud, all of these things quickly go flying out of the window. Therefore, digging in these conditions is not wise, to say the least. Although some of the other trenches were dig-able shortly after the rain, my trench (PC 19 and 22) was in bad shape. So week five, let's see…


Russell Moore working on the scarp in Trench PC 22.

As I exited the sweet sensation of never-never land Monday morning, I heard the sound of rain. "Oh no, this doesn't look good," I said. And I was right. Due to the rain, we (the students) held off on going up the site until around 10:00. After getting up there, we had a little luck with cleaning up until the downpour came; so, we were ordered off the hill and back to the villa for an afternoon lecture. Although it was nice to get a break and catch up on some rest, missing even one day in an excavation is not good because it seems to be a race against time to accomplish one's goals for the season. Furthermore, as if missing one day of valuable excavation time was tough enough, the rumor that it was a chance of similar rainy conditions throughout the week didn't make the situation any better. Thus, the week progressed with our fingers crossed. Each day in Trench 19 and 22 consisted of the same duties--scooping out the hanging water that could possibly have been called swimming pools in some places and scraping down and repairing the profiles (sides of the trench) so the stratigraphic changes would once again be visible. Each time the rain came, these tasks were repeated, especially since the rain is not too friendly on the profiles. On the other hand, by the end of the week, we were once again getting a small taste of "dig action," which, by the way, felt great! Since things were drying out by the end of the week, next week will hopefully consist of digging at 100%!

Aside from the pain that the rain caused last week, last weekend (July 12-14), Andrea, Hillery, Sara, and I took a trip to Venice. Since I had seen many pictures of Venice in books, movies, etc., I just had to go there and see it for myself. And it was fabulous. It was extraordinary to see the water canals and gondolas, which were the two things that used to first come to my mind when I thought of Venice. While there, we visited the Doge's Palace, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and Murano (an island near Venice that consists of the glass blowing shops). The trip to Murano was very interesting, especially watching the glass blowers make a horse out of a blob of glass in under a minute. It was amazing to see how much of an art glass making really is. The best part about Venice, however, was just the atmosphere and it's beauty. Although the water in the canals is obviously not the cleanest, Venice is still a gorgeous city. It was definitely worth the trip there.

Well, I guess that sums up the crazy happenings for week five. Stay tuned for further exciting, and hopefully dry, stories from the wild world that is Poggio Colla.

Week 6 - Candace Grove:

As I trudge up the steep dirt slope of Poggio Colla at 7:10 am carrying the Total Station, a yellow box that weights about 100 pounds, okay maybe 35, I think I want to kill myself. 7:10 am, steep hill, and heavy yellow box are not usually a part of my day-ever, let alone every morning for six consecutive weeks. Well, I don't always carry the Total Station, a wonderful little box that contains a device for measuring elevations, but that hike in the morning is rough and tough and let me just say-even after six weeks I don't feel like a mountain goat.


Candace Grove excavating in the north end of Trench PC 19.

Nevertheless, when I reach the top of the hill, set my yellow friend down, take a drink of water out of my cool little blue flask that I sometimes use as a pillow during cookie break and lunch, and calm my breathing, I realize just how lucky I am to be here. No really guys-this place is awesome. We work hard every day in the dirt. We are surrounded on all sides by dirt. I've begun to love this dirt. I like the sound of the word dirt. I know dirt. It's really cool when you find things in the dirt, too. Deep down inside in some secret place I even like the hike and I bet if I was forced to eat a mint popsicle on the hill I'd probably like it too.


Candace Grove studying fineware sherds in the magazzino.

Anyway, since it rained last weekend and excavation was hindered quite a bit, I got the chance to visit the magazzino, the area where the conservators check out and clean the artifacts that are found at the excavation sites. As an added bonus, my professor, Ann Steiner, was invited to come as the black glaze specialist and she informed me about the particulars of the black glaze found at our site. She was able to tell me what a vessel would look like just by examining a tiny sherd of black glaze pottery. By the end of the day, I was beginning to form an intimate relationship with this pottery as well. It's amazing how much information you can gain from such a small fragment of pottery. I studied a group of about eleven black glaze bases that were found on our site that I plan to use as the basis of my paper. It was nice to see the other side of what makes up an excavation. I've been involved in the digging and retrieval side of excavation so it was cool to see what happens when the artifact gets carried down the hill and driven into town and placed in the hands of the conservators. And then to see how an expert interprets the finds and puts them in a broad context was the icing.

To say the least, I have learned much more than I imagined while here at Poggio Colla. A classroom definitely could not compete with anything I have experienced here. Yeah and traveling around Italy on the weekends is okay too. I saw the Coliseum, walked around the Roman forum and Palatine hill, and swam in the blue grotto and that was cool, I guess. Floating in electric blue water on a Saturday evening was incredible to say the least. It made my heart flutter. Digging in the dirt makes my heart flutter too and I like it a lot.

Week 6 - Russell Moore:

This just in: We have clear skies! I repeat: clear skies! That's right, no rain. And this means dry soil, good excavation conditions, and more fun times to be had at Poggio Colla. Although last week was drastically slowed by the rain and soggy conditions, this week has been rolling along quite nicely and just in time. Since excavation was scheduled to shut down officially on July 26, the pressure was on this week to get as much accomplished as possible. So, as the excavation at Poggio Colla for the 2002 field season draws to a close, let's take a look at week six.


Russell Moore digging near the curved wall in Trench PC 19.

Excavation in Trench PC 19 and 22 this week has gone smoothly. After finishing clearing out an area left from the previous Friday, it was back to business. Although one might think that things wind down during the last week of excavation, this is far from true. This week has offered several new bits of information that have aided/confused possible explanations on certain areas of this site. So even though there are only a few days left (since Saturday might be used as an additional excavation day), who knows what might turn up to further baffle everyone until next year's season rolls around?


View of Trenches PC 19 and 22, in which Russell Moore and Candace Grove excavate.

Despite the troublesome week that we had last week, we still had a wonderful time on the weekend. Most of us took a trip to Rome where the co-directors, Michael and Greg, gave a tour of the Roman Forum and Villa Giulia, respectively. I had never been to Rome, so I was extremely excited to be making this trip, especially being an avid admirer of anything ancient, of which Rome is full. Although I've seen countless pictures of the archaeological remains in Rome, they do not come close in comparison to the feeling of actually being there and seeing it with my own eyes. I felt as if I had to pick my mouth up off of the ground when I first caught site of the remains of the forum. All I could think of is WOW! The forum, amazing as it is, is still quite confusing if you do not know what's going on. This is why the tour given by Michael was a blessing. Having someone explain the formation of the forum, from the earliest times into the times of the Roman Republic and Empire, gave more meaning to the remains than just seeing them by myself would have given. After the tour, which took about four hours, I went to the Coliseum and then the Palatine Hill. Of all of the things that I've seen since I've been here, the Coliseum was the most impressive to me. Walking into the Coliseum and seeing it for the first time with my own eyes was another one of those awe inspiring and speechless moments. And to be able to walk across the floor of it and see the passageways that ran under the floor made it even more fascinating. Although I was amazed at the architectural feat and technique of the Romans, I couldn't help but think about what went on in there and how it was a blessing to some while being a place of terror for others. In addition to seeing the Pantheon, we also were given a tour of the Villa Giulia, a museum devoted to Villanovan and Etruscan material. This museum was awesome as well, since we are dealing with the Etruscans here at Poggio Colla. Although I could write forever about how wonderful I thought Rome was, I will stop here and leave the rest for your own eyes.

Overall, as I hope you can tell by my student diary entries, my time here at Poggio Colla has been extraordinary, not only in terms of the valuable excavation experience and knowledge of the Etruscans that I've received, but also in terms of the wonderful travel time that we are allowed on the weekends. Thus, I can't think of a better way to have spent my summer than here at Poggio Colla.


2002 Team of Trenches PC 19 and 22, left to right: Justin Winkler,
Caitlin Vacanti, Russell Moore, Candace Grove, and Aaron Bartels.

 

Week 7 - Russell Moore:


Russell Moore excavating the body of a pithos filled with seeds in PC 22.

With a tear in my eye, I write to you one last time from Poggio Colla for the 2002 Field School has ever-too-quickly come to a close. It only feels as if it were yesterday that I was just arriving and meeting everyone for the first time. I can't help but to think how quickly time flies by when you are busy working, traveling, and having a good time. Thus, with a sense of closure in the air, week seven came with a bit of sadness knowing that I wouldn't be going up to the hill for many more days this season. And now, as week seven has come and gone, it's hard to believe that I'll be heading back to the U.S. soon and away from this place that I've called home for the past seven weeks. So, without further adieu, let's delve into the excitement of week seven.


Candace Grove and Russell Moore measure and draw strata in the scarp of
Trenches PC 19 and 22 as part the permanent record in the field notebook.

Since the hill needed extra excavation time, Monday was officially the final day of digging for Trenches PC 19 and 22. Although we had much that we needed to accomplish and several artifacts that we needed to remove, we were able to meet our goals due to the fact that we were up there until around 6:00 in the evening. And since we did not have enough time to finish the two to three hours of pottery washing before dinner, Caitly worked on washing the pottery on Tuesday before Candace, Justin, and I joined her after coming down from the site. Furthermore, after the final trench tours of the season on Tuesday, most of the students went to the FOD to help "back-fill" the trenches. From my trench, however, Candace and I went back up to the hill to help Justin draw the profiles. I was really glad that I was able to do this since I did not feel as if I had a strong enough understanding of the way the stratigraphy was laid out in certain areas. Since Justin only needed to draw the profiles of the newly excavated areas, we only had to draw two of the profiles. To draw the profiles, a line level is set up across the length of the profile with someone measuring from this line down to the particular stratum (denoted by a different color of soil) or level. Another person plots the measurements on graph paper and then connects the dots, thus creating a drawing of the stratigraphy of the profile.


Joe Cosentino, Ivo van der Graaff, Mike Glover, Justin Winkler, Katy Blanchard,
and Andrea Mall shovel dirt to backfill trenches on Poggio Colla at the end of the season.

Wednesday, however, was the "fun day" of backfill. What is backfill you might ask? Well, it is what it sounds like. After working for six weeks to excavate an area, you put all of the dirt back in that you previously extracted. Although not as bad as the removal of the backfill at the beginning of the season, backfill was still quite rigorous. My job during backfill consisted of shoveling, shoveling, and, oh yeah, more shoveling. Other people also worked the shovels, while still others participated in the "bucket brigade" or driving the wheelbarrows. Due to everyone's hard work, what took six weeks to move out only took about four-and-a-half hours to fill back. Thus, as I carried some of the equipment down from the site at the end of the day, I had to say goodbye to Poggio Colla in hopes that we may see each other once again.


View from the lunch shed of the backfilling of trenches on Poggio Colla.

As I now look back on my time here in Italy and at Poggio Colla, I can't help but to sit back with a big smile on my face. In the seven weeks that I've been here, I feel as if I've become close to everyone. I will always cherish the many talks (especially the talks of tails) and the friendships that I've made here. I thus leave Poggio Colla with two big thumbs up. And since I've previously used Forrest Gump quotes in an archaeological context, I must leave you with one more. As Forrest Gump might say, "[Excavation] is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get."


Candace Grove and Russell Moore measure and draw strata in the scarp of
Trenches PC 19 and 22 as part the permanent record in the field notebook.

 


FOD Women. Left to right: Meg Common, Rebecca Lanthorne, Rebecca Cooper,
Katy Blanchard, and Jenny Muslin. Photo by Joe Cosentino.