2006 TRENCH PF 7
Field Supervisor: Aaron Bartels, The University of Texas


Field Supervisor Aaron Bartels.

Final Report - Aaron Bartels, Field Supervisor:

The 2006 excavation of the kiln (Feature 1) in PF 7 brought with it new information and many questions concerning pottery production and ancient life on the Podere Funghi. We first wondered about occupation in the Podere Funghi when large-tine plowing churned up concentrations of pottery and tile. From 1998 to 1999, trenches in the Podere Funghi turned up a large midden/disposal full of misfired pottery. Over subsequent seasons we discovered a large Hellenistic complex 50 meters to the northeast with stone wall foundations, a hearth, tile floor packing and at least four pottery kilns and adjacent areas potentially for throwing and drying pots.

Michael Thomas and Jess Galloway watch Jason Doran, Angela Trentacoste,
and Nicole Beratesqui remove backfill from PF 7 in order to excavate Kiln 1.


Aaron Bartels and Sara Bon-Harper defining Kiln 1 and the scarp around PF 7.

In 2001, Robert Vander Poppen found the imprint of a kiln in PF 7. He luckily left it intact for a future season to study it in more detail. The kiln "footprint" survives immediately below plow zone since the plow had sheared off higher elements, such as the pottery firing-chamber and the ancient ground-line. This "footprint" is not the kiln's wall but a remnant from the intense heat required to fire pottery. Ancients first dug out a bowl for the kiln furnace from the degraded bedrock. When they fired pottery the heat changed the sandstone from a yellow to a red color. For one week this season Sara Bon-Harper and I systematically excavated the southern half of the kiln's interior to better determine how it was made, used, and finally destroyed.

Sara Bon-Harper, Aaron Bartels, and Jess Galloway discuss Kiln 1, exposed in Trench PF 7.


Aaron Bartels and Sara Bon-Harper excavating Kiln 1 in Trench PF 7 during Week 4.

Aside from discovering that our kiln was cut into the bedrock to form a bowl for the furnace, we found two nearly complete mudbricks. They both lay directly on top of the kiln floor (unlike all other mudbrick here). The western brick seems to have fallen to the south, broken in half and come to rest atop a small layer of gray sediment lining the kiln's bottom. The eastern brick seems to have fallen northeast to lie, upright, against the eastern wall. These two bricks may have originally supported a frame (now plowed away) set on top of them that held stacks of pottery. This system is common throughout Etruria. Further excavation to the north will clarify this system.

View from the south of Kiln 1 in Trench PF 7 at season's end.


Final photo of excavated portion of Kiln 1 interior as viewed from the south.

We also excavated smaller, degraded mudbrick chunks from amidst the two larger support bricks. In addition, small amounts of burnt pottery, a bucchero rim, long bone fragments and iron slag all point towards the possibility that ancients filled the kiln with an earlier deposit from a nearby dump after the kiln's use. It is possible that the kiln walls collapsed of their own accord after falling out of use but all these small finds point towards a post-use fill that terraced this side of the hill. The great amount of carbonized wood scattered throughout might also have come from this terracing fill or at least the firing of the kiln.

View from the west of Kiln 1 in Trench PF 7 at season's end.

Next season we hope to excavate out the rest of the kiln, including the flue designed for controlling the oxygen and temperature for firing pottery. We cannot yet know the complete construction of the kiln, the types of pottery it fired or the exact nature of its closure. With future pollen sampling, chemical analysis and carbon dating, we hope to understand the life of PF 7's kiln as well as its greater relation to the structure it abuts and to the Etruscans living throughout the Mugello Valley.

View of reopened (shaded) Trench PF 7 in the Podere Funghi above the Mugello Valley.


Week 4: Sara Bon-Harper and Aaron Bartels run shovel test pits in the Podere Funghi.


Aaron Bartels records data from shovel test pits in the Podere Funghi.


Sara Bon-Harper digs a shovel test pit.


Aaron Bartels strikes the Blanchard pose.


Aaron Bartels explains Kiln 1 and PF 7 during final trench tours.