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
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:
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
Finds for this week:
aside from various pottery sherds and tile pieces, I didn't really
except in the comfort of such a team I found
sucka! I actually found that my team is the best
at movie trivia and the hill can't compete at all
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
of Trenches PC 19 and 22, left to right: Justin Winkler,
Caitlin Vacanti, Russell Moore, Candace Grove, and Aaron Bartels.
Week 7 - Russell Moore:
Moore excavating the body of a pithos filled with seeds in PC
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
Trenches PC 19 and 22 as part the permanent record in the field
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,
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.
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
Candace Grove and Russell Moore measure and draw strata in the
Trenches PC 19 and 22 as part the permanent record in the field
FOD Women. Left to right: Meg Common, Rebecca Lanthorne, Rebecca
Katy Blanchard, and Jenny Muslin. Photo by Joe Cosentino.