by Kacie Coughlin, Wes Court, Jessica Galeano, Jen Polguy
of Franklin and Marshall College


The Poggio Colla Field School of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project (MVAP) sponsored by Franklin & Marshall College, University of Pennsylvania Museum, and Southern Methodist University oversees an excavation of two Etruscan sites, Poggio Colla and the Podere Funghi. These sites are located in modern Vicchio, Italy and date from 700 - 150 BC. Excavators believe that Poggio Colla is a sanctuary or distribution area, and the Podere Funghi is a domestic pottery workshop.

View of the Mugello Valley.

During the 2003 excavation season, we traveled to Poggio Colla as part of the excavation team.  The purpose of our project was to achieve a better understanding of the chronology and function of the two sites by focusing on the Hellenistic black-glaze pottery. The goals of our study were to:

1. compare the finds from the control area to three comparative trenches on Poggio Colla
2. compare black-glaze finds from the hill to those from the Podere Funghi
3. create a database to analyze the black-glaze pottery of the two sites
4. determine whether the kilns in the Podere Funghi supplied the Etruscans atop Poggio Colla with black glaze pottery


In this study we analyzed the Hellenistic black-glaze pottery that was found on Poggio Colla and on the Podere Funghi, which are Etruscan sites in Vicchio, Italy. We used two trenches, PC 19 and 22, as control trenches on Poggio Colla and compared the black-glaze finds in this area to the three chosen comparison trenches: PC 3, 6, and 23. Comparative trenches were chosen from the trenches that revealed strategic details of the architectural remains. We created a database of all black-glaze finds in order to analyze the finds. The black-glaze finds from the three comparative trenches were compared to the control area in order to achieve a better understanding of the appearance and use of the pottery, and the dating and function of architecture on the hill of Poggio Colla. The finds from Poggio Colla were compared to the black-glaze finds from the Podere Funghi. We attempted to determine whether the kilns in the Podere Funghi supplied the Etruscans atop Poggio Colla with black-glaze pottery.  Additional studies of Etruscan trade patterns may contribute to our understanding of the appearance and use of Hellenistic black-glaze pottery finds at Poggio Colla and the Podere Funghi.


The control trenches, PC 19 and 22, are located adjacent to each other and have the same stratigraphy. The six cataloged black-glaze finds in PC 19 range in date from 325 - 225 BC. A hemispherical bowl in stratum 3 can be dated to approximately 250 - 225 BC and indicates that the stratum itself and the remaining finds in it can date no earlier than 250 BC. There were fourteen cataloged black-glaze finds in PC 22; collectively they range in date from 325 -150 BC. There were four hemispherical bowls found in stratum 2 which could also be dated to approximately 250 - 225 BC.

View of PC 19.

Therefore, the hemispherical bowls in each of our control trenches imply that stratum 3 can be no earlier than 250 BC, and that stratum 2 occurs sometime after that. Additionally, an olpe with 100 victoriati and a kantharos found in PC 22 dates to as late as 150 BC. Thus from the control trenches it is evident that black-glaze pottery appeared on the hill of Poggio Colla in stratum 3 no earlier than 250 BC and was present until as late as 150 BC in stratum 2.

Black-glaze vessel before and after conservation.

PC 3

The stratigraphy of PC 3 is very different than that of the control area; there are eleven strata opposed to the four in the control area. Fourteen finds were found in PC 3. All of the strata had overlapping date ranges, which spanned from 325 - 200 BC. By comparing the date ranges of the three shapes which occurred in stratum 4, it is evident that no stratum can date past 200 BC. For the bowl/cups were not made after 200 BC; therefore the olpe and kantharos can date to 200 BC at the latest themselves. In the same reasoning, the bowl/cups were not made before 300 BC since the olpe and kantharos were not manufactured until 300 BC. Therefore, both strata3 and 4 date from 300 - 200 BC, with stratum 4 activity occurring prior to stratum 3 activity within these years. Stratum 9 can be dated to 325 - 275 BC by a cup with an upswung horizontal handle. Finally, a cup with a horseshoe handle found in both strata 10 and 11 dates these strata to 325 - 200 BC; however, the end date is limited to 275 BC by the younger find in stratum 9. Therefore, the black-glaze finds in PC 3 appear earlier than those in the control area and none date as late as 200 BC.

Black-glaze fragments with rouletting.

Site plan of Poggio Colla.

PC 6

Twenty-six black-glaze artifacts were found in PC 6. Like PC 3, the stratigraphy in PC 6 is very different than that of the control area. Additionally, the range of shapes in PC 6 was much larger than that of the control area. There were fifteen bowl/cups, two fishplates, two Volterran skyphoi, one kantharos, two cups with upswung horizontal handles, one amphora, one olpe, one cup with a horseshoe handle, and one hemispherical bowl. The range of dates of the finds in PC 6 is consistent with those of PC 19 and 22. Collectively the twenty-six finds range in date from 325 - 175 BC. However, one hemispherical bowl found in stratum 3 dates the stratum to 250 - 225 BC at the very earliest. Therefore, stratum 3 can be no older than 250 BC, which means stratum 2 occurs sometime after this point and may go as late as 175 BC.

Black-glaze Fishplate/Patera.

View of PC 6.

PC 23

There were twenty-five finds in PC 23. The stratigraphy of PC 23 is similar to that of the control area. There was a greater variety of pottery shapes found in PC 23 compared to that of the control area. Thirteen of the finds in PC 23 were found in stratum 2, nine in stratum 3, and three were stray finds. Collectively the finds in PC 23 range in date from 325 - 150 BC. However, two hemispherical bowls were found, one in each stratum that date more specifically to 250 - 225 BC. Additionally, three olpes were found in stratum 2 that date precisely to 250 BC. Therefore, by using the specific dates of these five pieces the remaining black-glaze pieces in the trench can be approximated to no earlier than 250 BC. Lastly, an olpe dating as late as 150 BC and a kantharos to 175 BC were found in strata 2 and 3 respectively. These dates coincide with the dates of the black-glaze pottery found in the control area and emphasize the overlapping of dates in the strata.

Top and bottom views of a black-glaze bowl.



Three distinct strata characterize the Podere Funghi. Stratum 1 is classified as the topsoil and organic layer. Strata 2A and 2B are the use layers; they differ in the proportion and size of artifacts found. Stratum 3 is bedrock. Over the centuries strata one, 2A, and 2B were regularly plowed; this resulted in a jumbled mass of soil and shards from the various contexts.

Only two of the ten trenches in the Podere Funghi, PF 6 and 10, contained black-glaze fragments. These five black-glaze finds were all found in stratum 2A, the stratum where most of the overall finds in the Podere Funghi have been recovered. The finds consisted of: two cups with upswung handles, two Volterran skyphoi, and a bowl/cup. All of the finds range in date from 325 - 250 BC. Therefore, stratum 2A has an end date in the middle of the third century BC.

View of the Podere Funghi.

Black-glaze vessel handle.


The stratum that produced all of the black-glaze pottery fragments at Podere Funghi, stratum 2A, has a general date range of approximately 325 - 250 BC. Hence, the black-glaze finds from the Podere Funghi suggest that the site does not date any earlier than 325 BC. Additionally, the Podere Funghi cannot date past 250 BC as indicated by the approximate dates of the black-glaze finds. Ironically, the majority of black-glaze pottery on Poggio Colla did not appear until 250 BC at the earliest. However, there were two black-glaze finds on Poggio Colla, both from PC 3, that date from 325 – 275 BC. This evidence suggests there is a slight chronological overlap between the two sites.

It is difficult to compare the black-glaze fragments from the two sites because of the small frequency of sherds found in the Podere Funghi. However, it is interesting to note that out of the five diagnostic pieces found in the Podere Funghi, two of them were from Volterran skyphoi, especially since there were only four Volterran skyphoi fragments found on Poggio Colla. The difference in date range of the two locations, coupled with the vastly different proportions of artifact types, suggest that the artifacts found at both Podere Funghi and Poggio Colla have little, if any, relation to one another. Therefore, this supports the hypothesis that the sites had two different functions and the kilns of the Podere Funghi did not supply the Etruscans on Poggio Colla with black-glaze pottery.


It is important to note that only the cataloged black-glaze finds, the diagnostic finds, were incorporated into the database and analyzed in this study. Likewise, it is necessary to comment on the various number of strata per trench. Some trenches have more strata than others because their supervisors sought to make more distinctions between the levels of earth. For the purpose of our study we decided to correlate the finds across the trenches according to their date ranges, as opposed to what stratum they were found in.

In this study we sought to understand the chronology and function of Poggio Colla and the Podere Funghi by analyzing the Hellenistic black-glaze pottery found in each site. We determined that the kilns of the Podere Funghi did not supply the Etruscans on Poggio Colla with black-glaze pottery. Additionally, it is questionable as to whether the kilns on the Podere Funghi were producing black-glaze pottery. One would think if black-glaze pottery was being produced on the Podere Funghi, a greater amount of black-glaze artifacts would have been found there. Therefore, it is necessary to study Etruscan trade patterns in order to better understand the appearance of Hellenistic black-glaze pottery on Poggio Colla.


We would like to thank the entire staff of the Poggio Colla Field School for all of their help, instruction, and guidance. Most notably the co-directors Dr. Michael Thomas and Dr. P. Gregory Warden, and director of research Dean Ann Steiner who by her generosity, kindness, and enthusiasm made our Etruscan adventure possible. Additionally, we would like to thank Franklin and Marshall College for funding our project.

Fond memories of PC 19, 22, and 27.

The F&M crew at Vigna.


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