2003 STUDENT RESEARCH
PROJECT: A COMPARATIVE ASSESSMENT OF THE HELLENISTIC BLACK-GLAZE
POTTERY OF VARIOUS EXCAVATED AREAS OF POGGIO COLLA AND THE PODERE
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
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
3. create a database to analyze the black-glaze pottery of the
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.
CONTROL AREA - PC 19 AND 22
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.
before and after conservation.
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.
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.
View of PC 6.
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
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.
COMPARISON: PODERE FUNGHI TO POGGIO COLLA
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.