2006 STUDENT DIARIES
Evans, Franklin and Marshall College
William Gilstrap, University of California Long Beach
Sarah Evans -- Week 2:
Now that we have almost
finished two weeks of the field school, we have learned the ropes
and are starting to fall into a routine. Things are a little
bit different this year since it is a study season and so we
have been spending less time excavating and more time in the
lab (as compared to previous seasons). We alternate working in
the labs and up on Poggio Colla each day and so we have grown
familiar with each trench as well as with the different stages
of excavation. The trench supervisors have done a great job of
guiding us through the processes of excavation and manage to
make the dull and sometimes painful task of sifting entertaining.
So far there have been no major finds but we have become well
acquainted with coarseware pottery and roof tiles.
Sarah Evans (far left) with Professor Ann Steiner (right) coarseware
When we are not in the
field, we have been down in the lab working in different groups
on specific research projects ranging from museum design to roof
tiles. My group has been dealing with less glamorous coarseware
pottery that was meant for everyday use. So far, we have gone
through the numerous boxes of coarseware that was found but never
catalogued to get a sense of the different vessel types we have,
noting various clay bodies, vessel sizes and shapes. Eventually
we hope to record and catalogue sherds with suggestive shapes
(such as a rim or handle) so that they can be referenced easily
in the future.
Our time here has been
productive and entertaining so far and we are looking forward
to learning and experiencing more over the next couple of weeks.
William Gilstrap -- Week
Because this year is
a study season, the life here at MVAP is slightly different from
that in previous years. We spend half of our time up on the hill
excavating and the other half in the lab working on research
projects. It took a few days to get used to the life and the
chore list, but after that it became second nature. The students
have been divided into four different groups, each group working
on a separate research project. The research projects relate
to the most important issues concerning our particular site.
Although it has only been two weeks, it is rather apparent that
everybody has learned something that interests them. Between
the excavation, lab exercises, and field trips to other related
sites, there is something for everyone who is interested in archaeology.
Dr. Gretchen Meyers (upper
left) and William Gilstrap (upper center)
with the 2006 roof tile research group.
They have only opened
three trenches up on Poggio Colla since this is a study season.
Each trench has been chosen strategically to get a better understanding
of the stratigraphy of the site by comparing stratigraphic data
from this year to that observed in years past. Each time we are
on the hill the trench supervisors provide us with the basics
of excavation techniques and inform us of the important ethical
issues involved in archaeological excavation.
Although we are only
two weeks into the field season, we have seen lots of exciting
things. I mean, there is nothing better than tearing out a large
stump that has been in your way all week while trying to excavate
to down to the next stratum. Besides that, we have seen fine
and coarse ware pottery and lots and lots of roof tiles and an
occasional deposit of metal. Each day, whether in the trench
up on the hill or in the lab, there is something new that is
being discussed or discovered, something that is not only important
to the site but to the Etruscan civilization as a whole.
I am very excited to
be a part of this program. The program not only aids its students
in gaining field experience, but also provides us, through lectures
and hands-on exercises with material remains, a chance to feel
connected with the Etruscans who left this site behind.
Sarah Evans -- Week 4:
It is hard to believe
that we are already at the end of week four of our time in the
Mugello Valley and that we are starting to wrap our work up for
the season. Things were a little slow for all of us in the first
couple of weeks as we got used to the routine around here and
learned our way around the site and the lab. Now that we're experienced
excavators (thanks to our awesome trench supervisors) and we've
been working hard on our research projects, things have really
become interesting around here. Up on Poggio Colla we've reached
the destruction level of the site in all three trenches, which
contains most of the exciting stuff that comes from this site.
Last Friday we had a lot of interesting finds that included three
coins and some really nice sherds of pottery. Tuesday revealed
what we believe to be the eastern edge of the site's notorious
metal pit. Veterans of previous excavations were not very surprised
at the number of the finds in this area but it was pretty exciting
for us as students to watch them come out of the ground.
Sarah Evans using Munsell color chart to identify stratigraphy.
All groups have been
working hard on their respective research projects while they
aren't up on the hill. My group, affectionately known as team
'niiice', has been inventorying uncatalogued coarseware in order
to understand its relation to its context in the Podere del Funghi,
which is a site that is probably associated with pottery production.
So far we have identified a few common types, present in several
trenches throughout this site, that were probably used as storage
vessels. There is a lot of interesting material from Trench PF
5 in the Podere Funghi, where the hearth of the architectural
structure is located: a larger variety of shapes and types of
vessels. We also recently discovered a small sherd of stamped
coarseware that reveals a simple design on the rim. This was
a very important find because it is the only evidence of stamped
coarseware on this site. We are very excited about what we are
finding and are currently working on interpreting our discoveries.
Sarah Evans holds the prism pole to survey finds in a trench
Our time here is coming
to a close rapidly and we are trying to wrap up our work as quickly
as possible. Hopefully we'll be able to reach our goals both
on the hill and in the lab.
William Gilstrap -- Week
So we've been here about
four weeks now, but it wasn't until last week that the excavations
became really interesting. Last week we started to get down to
the destruction and occupation layers of the last phase of the
site. Things like coins, unidentifiable bronze, lead, and iron
lumps, and lots of pottery and roof tiles began to be exposed.
It's not always exciting to sit and dig in the same area for
hours, but as soon as someone pulls out a large piece of bucchero
or a coin everyone gets really amped and the progress seems to
go at a much more rapid pace. The trench supervisors are very
informative and can usually answer any question about the site
in particular and the Etruscans in general. Besides being on
top of the subjects and queries at hand, the supervisors are
also quite fun to talk to and joke around with. I really feel
that I have learned a lot about the actual excavation process
and the various techniques that archaeologists use on a daily
basis to detail, pedestal, and lift artifacts. Once down from
the hill, it's fun to sit down and wash the pottery and tile
that we brought down with us. The music is playing, everybody
is stoked to be back at Vigna and it feels like we actually accomplished
something that day because we can see what we dug up.
Gilstrap taking a pass in Trench PC 1 during Week 2.
When we aren't on the
hill we are in either the conservation lab, the research lab,
or for the Teggalisti, down in what I like to call the Dungeon.
The Dungeon is actually the basement of the museum/library in
Vicchio. This is where lots and lots of the finds are stored.
I spend a lot of time down there studying the variability found
in the roof tile remains from the Podere Funghi and from Poggio
Colla. It sounds boring, but there is a lot of really interesting
information you can get from a roof tile. It's true, I swear.
Lab days start later and finish later than excavation days, but
sometimes you get to go into town and get a cappucino or a pastry
or something. Lab days are also used for field trips to various
other sites that are known to have been occupied by the Etruscans.
We use these trips to get parallels for our own projects. It's
pretty awesome because besides the educational stuff, it gives
us a chance to see regions of Italy that most folks would never
get to see.
William Gilstrap in the museum.
At this point I can already
see the light at the end of the tunnel. What I mean is the excavation
is coming to an end, and I think that I can speak for most of
the students by saying that we wish we had more time because
there are so many questions to answer and so many more to ask.
Although I have investigated various elements of Etruscan studies
before coming to this program, I now have a much more intimate
connection with the Etruscans as a people. I can also say that
I now have a better idea of what an archaeologist is and what
one actually does.
Oh yeah and I forgot to mention in my last entry that we have
the best cook in all of Italy!! It makes one feel kind of spoiled
to have an Italian grandmother cooking your meals everyday. Beppina
and Monica you rock! So I guess it's like V.P.'s former advisor
always said " There are plenty of sites, but never dig at
one where the food is bad." Here at MVAP we will never have
to worry about that. Ciao.