P. Gregory Warden
Michael Thomas


Michael Thomas - Week 4:

Liz Wolfram, Kathy Windrow, and Estelle Reddeck.

This week was a crazy one. Half way through our long weekend, we were informed that one of our students had fallen ill while touring Pompeii and ended up in a Naples hospital. I owe a great debt to Kathy Windrow and Estelle Reddeck, who ended up staying in Naples for four days to take care of the student until the mother arrived. The prognosis is good and we are all hopeful that the student will make it out of the hospital soon.

Pan tiles under the hearth in Trench PF 5.

On the hill, we have made good progress. Although we have not had a spectacular year in terms of finds, we have had a spectacular year in terms of information. We have found some important clues about the chronology and construction method of the buildings in both the Podere Funghi and on Poggio Colla. We have discovered a layer of pan tiles underneath the floor of the building in the Podere Funghi that seems to be packing for the floor; packing likely made from the remnants of an earlier building. Although we had evidence of that from last year, we had no idea that we would find so many tiles underneath the hearth area in PF 5. On the top of the hill we may have discovered a post hole that dates to a very early phase of the site, perhaps a phase that predated our Phase I.

Tile under foundation in Trench PF 6.

We are going to start a test trench on the other side of the valley from where we are excavating now on the property of the Bartolini-Salembene villa. Here walking surveys discovered materials including some Roman period pottery. We followed these surveys with a resistivity survey by our colleagues from the CNR, Dario Monna and Ivo Brunner. They found a significant anomaly, and we are going to put a small trench there, to be run by Katy Blanchard. The hope is that we will find the location of the structure so that someone else can excavate this area in the future.

Resistivity survey of the Bartolini-Salembene field by Dario Monna and Ivo Brunner.

Michael Thomas and Katy Blanchard locating the site of Trench BS 1.

Finally, we had a bit of a surprise this week as we stumbled upon some old Italian plans from the Poggio Colla excavations of the late 60's and early 70's. It seems that the Italians excavated in some areas that we did not realize that they had. We may wish to revisit these trenches in the future.

Megan Emory, Jess Galloway, and Michael Thomas review
plans of the site drawn during previous years of excavation.

Michael Thomas - Week 5:

We had a productive week. Erik Nielsen, co-director of the excavations at Poggio Civitate near Murlo visited our site and gave a lecture for our field school students.

Erik Nielsen, co-director of the excavations at Poggio Civitate
with Greg Warden, co-director of Poggio Colla in the Podere Funghi.

We have opened the new trench in the Bartolini-Salembene area. Considering the size of the field that we are working and the difficult excavation conditions, we may wait for a ploughed field to do a survey here instead of carrying on with further excavation.

Benton Keith, Wes Court, and Katy Blanchard opening Trench BS 1.

In the Podere Funghi we made some interesting discoveries about our kilns. They definitely pre-date our building and thus seem to establish at least two phases in this area. We have what may be an early wall in the northern part of PF 14.

Tile, pottery, and stones in the bottom of the kiln in Trench PF 9.

On the top, we have the exciting news of several important finds in the SW locus of PC 23. Here finds are coming out of a fissure in the bedrock; the nature of some of these finds suggest that they were placed here on purpose, thus this fissure was known to the earliest inhabitants at Poggio Colla and perhaps was a place for votive offerings. If this is the case, the sacred nature of this area may have been established before any buildings were here.

View of students working in Poggio Colla trenches during Week 5.


Michael Thomas - Week 6:

The last week is always the most exciting. There is pressure to finish and, at the same time, there is the anticipation of important finds. For me, it is bittersweet; I feel as if we are just starting to gel as a team, but I know that we only have a week left of excavation.

Greg Warden makes an appearance as excavator on Poggio Colla.

The highlight of this week was the discovery of a moulded block in a very deep deposit at the center of our acropolis building. This block, located in the SW locus of PC 23, has been broken in half and deposited upside down. In my mind this discovery goes a long way in helping us decipher our chronology. The nature of the finds associated with the block suggests that whatever building it belonged to was destroyed in the late Archaic period. It seems to have been placed in the preparation of an area for the Phase II building. This preparation fills in the sections of bedrock and creates a flat preparation for the Phase II foundations. This raises the possibility that when the Phase I building was standing, the site preserved areas of exposed bedrock. The deep fissures within our bedrock may have been a part of the sacred nature of this area.

This week we were fortunate to have Professor John Clarke of the University of Texas and photographer Michael Larvey visit the site.

Michael Larvey, Estelle Reddeck, and John Clarke in July 2003.

Above and below: Trenches on Poggio Colla as seen from the east during Week 6.

View across Poggio Colla trenches from the west.


View of Poggio Colla trenches from the northwest.


Above and below: Views of Podere Funghi trenches from the south during Week 6.

Michael Thomas - Week 7:

Left to right: Greg Warden, Martha Reichert, Robert Belanger, Ivo van der Graaff,
and Alvaro Ibarra in the Podere Funghi for final drawings and photography.

The season, from an excavation point of view, is now over. We just finished backfill this morning and we have begun the process of shutting down the site for another year. It is hard to believe that we have flown through another season. From my point of view it was a successful season. As I mentioned last week, we now know much more about both of our sites than we did before the season started.

Poggio Colla trenches as seen from the northeast at the end of the 2003 season.

On the top of the hill we opened an immense area with supervisors running up to three trenches apiece. Such spaces would normally be too large for one crew, but our system of supervisor and assistant supervisor allows us to effectively manage larger areas. These large trenches permit us to see large spaces and study the relationships of different areas of the site to each other. What we found out this season told us a lot about the nature of our building. It seems most likely that the acropolis building, especially in the third phase, was some type of courtyard complex, yet it is still too early to understand the layout of the building. We have isolated a structure in the west, the areas of PC 19, 22, and 27. Here, as we knew last year, we seem to have storehouses for grain. I am curious if the structure could have been two-story in this area, thus explaining the double foundations. We have speculated that these foundations were for two separate buildings, yet perhaps we should consider that these belong to one two- story building that houses a granary on the semi-subterranean ground floor. Could we then explain the odd curved wall in PC 19 as foundations for an exterior stair? Perhaps.

View from the north of Trenches PC 19 (foreground) and 22.

We also have better information about the earlier phase. I mentioned last week the discovery of the molded block deep in the southwest locus of PC 23. The position of this block in our stratigraphy suggests that it belonged to the Phase I building.

Molded block in Trench PC 23.

A beautiful stratigraphic profile from the northwest locus of PC 23 provides a clear detail the stratigraphy at Poggio Colla. I believe that the building phases of the site are preserved here. There seems to be a stratum that represents the destruction of the Phase I building. The stratum above seems to clearly illustrate an extensive terracing of the area for the Phase II structure. Above that we have the floor level for the Phase II building, with wall debris sitting directly on that floor level.

Stratigraphy of Trench PC 23.

The Podere Funghi was the big surprise this year. We discovered clear evidence of an earlier phase. One of the kilns ran under a foundation wall.

Podere Funghi trenches with kilns, from the northwest, at the end of the 2003 season.

We also found more tile used as floor packing, tile that must have come from an earlier building at the site. Finally, we found evidence of an early floor level in the western part of PF 5 as well as a what seem to be early foundation walls in the northern parts of PF 9 and 14. As much as I hoped to finish this area, we will have to reopen next year in order to keep exploring the early phase of this structure. We should, however, be able to put only one crew down here, thus enabling us to put 5 trenches on top.

Below the tile floor packing surrounding the hearth.


Early foundation walls in northern PF 9 and 14.

Finally, we have the area of the Bartolini-Salembene excavation, which seems to have turned up evidence of a mediaeval (or later structure).

Left: Operations Manager Larry Lehman with Professor John Clarke. Right: Monika Cateni and Vilma Ripi.

I need to take this time here to thank our staff and students for an exceptional year. I would like to particularly thank our Operations Manager, Larry Lehman, who does a great job doing everything that keeps this site going. I also want to thank one of our cooks, Vilma, who is retiring after 8 years of wonderful meals.

Podere Funghi trenches as seen from the west at the end of the 2003 season.

Greg Warden (left), takes final photos, and Jess Galloway (right) makes final drawings in the Podere Funghi.