Students and staff hike up the trail to Poggio Colla on Day 1 of 2010

On the first day of each field season, we clear the brush from the trail leading up through the filtered light of the forest to the top of Poggio Colla. It is on this steep path that we carry water, survey instruments, camera equipment, and other gear on a daily basis.

Field Supervisors and Assistant Field Supervisors arrive several days before the students and begin clearing the arx on Poggio Colla and the excavation are of the Podere Funghi in preparation for the opening of the trenches.

Students gather on the arx at Poggio Colla on the first day of the season

An important part of the first day is the tour of the site led by Director Michael Thomas. Students are introduced to the history and topography of the site, as well as to excavation methodology and philosophy.

Photos above show the introductory site tour for field school
students and staff, led by Director Michael Thomas

Director Greg Warden, Field Director Michael Thomas, and Architect Jess Galloway use survey maps and site diagrams to locate the position of trenches to be opened during the new season. Michael Thomas then works with the trench supervisors in identifying their areas of responsibility on the site.

Abbi Holt, Michael Thomas, and Justin Winkler
locate trenches on the first day of the 1999 season

Much of the timber on top of Poggio Colla was cut during the winter of 1998. The clearing of the forest made the 1998 field season easier for the survey team, and sunnier and hotter for everyone. In previous years, the thick canopy of foliage had kept the undergrowth somewhat in check, but during the winters since the cutting, the thorn trees and scrub have grown back very quickly, from six to ten feet tall in places.

Poggio Colla on the first day of the 1999 season

On the first day of the season, students and staff work together to cut and drag away the brush growing on the top of Poggio Colla. So enthusiastic and efficient are these crews that most of the site is cleared in just one day.

Above and below: brush cleared and trees cut to open 2009 trenches


After the site is cleared, we begin to haul up the tools, buckets, sifters, and other gear needed for field work. Based on survey map data and the advice of the Director, the Field Director, and the Architect, corners of trenches are identified and lines are strung to mark the edges. Then, Field Supervisors and their experienced assistants begin to cut the precisely measured and carefully aligned scarps, the vertical boundaries of the trenches.


Assistant Field Supervisor Laura Proud cuts scarp line


New trench located according to the 5m x 5m site plan grid on Poggio Colla in 2010


Freshly demarcated Trench PC 22 at the beginning of the 2001 season


Justin Winkler directs removal of backfill and fabric from Trench 13

By the end of the second day of work, tremendous progress has been made and the new season is well underway.