2004 TRENCHES PF 5,
6, 9, & 14
REPORTS FROM THE END OF THE SEASON
Robert Belanger, Field Supervisor
Bradley Schneider, Assistant Field Supervisor
Vounteer: Giuseppina Marras
Left: Field Supervisor Robert "Base" Belanger. Right:
Assistant Field Supervisor Brad Schneider.
Krishawna Brown and Virginia Lewis working in Trench PF 5.
Excavation has moved swiftly over the
past week due to the enthusiasm of my field crew and the near
perfect excavation conditions in the Podere Funghi. As previously
reported, the previous few weeks concentrated primarily upon
the isolation and definition of particular architectural features
and in the process yielded new information about the structure's
internal stratigraphy. The more numerous material finds of the
past week complement this information by providing a more intimate
look into the function of the structure by its occupants.
View of Podere Funghi Trenches
PF 5, 6, 9, & 14 from the south.
Robert Belanger sits behind the hearthand in front of the kilns.
In Trench PF 5, a number of interesting
discoveries were made in the final pass through the structure's
later Hellenistic habitation level. In the lowest levels of floor
packing, especially in the southwest corner of the building,
a high yield of bone was discovered amid a thick layer of scattered
carbon. These finds included two large animal teeth set in a
partially preserved jawbone, a long bone with the socket joint
still preserved, and several sections of decayed bone unable
to be positively identified. The location of these finds amid
a rich carbon deposit mere centimeters from the edge of the hearth
lends further credence to thinking that this section of the structure
was dedicated, at least in part, to a more domestic rather than
workshop role. The absence of bone finds in such quantities,
if at all, in other excavated trenches of the Podere Funghi provides
an equally compelling case from a depositional perspective as
Robert Belanger working
on his field notebook. View from the west with hearth at far
The material finds of the same pass in
Trench PF 5 tend to support this assessment as well. Although
a large quantity of fineware and coarseware fragments have been
unearthed which are typical of the floor packing level, several
diagnostically important sherds indicate a more domestic context.
Earlier today, several fineware sherds with equidistantly spaced
drill holes were discovered which share characteristics to cheese,
mead, and wine strainers from other locations. These sherds,
combined with the several highly degraded, lipped coarseware
sherds unearthed in the same corner as the bone, suggest an area
of food production and/or consumption. Whereas the strainer suggests
refinement of various staple foods in the Etruscan diet, the
thick coarseware sherds find parallel with medium sized cooking
and food storage vessels from Poggio Colla and Poggio Civitate,
among others. Regardless, the presence of these wares are an
indicator of a complex economy involving the growth, preparation,
consumption, and storage of both simple and complex foodstuffs.
Krishawna Brown holds the
fineware sherd with drilled holes found in PF 5.
Finally, work in Kiln 1 was completed
a few days ago after the southern, unexcavated portion reached
the lowest documented level of the 2003 excavation year. With
the discovery of a mud brick parallel to that removed at the
end of last season, and subsequent stratigraphic information
from the kiln walls themselves, a firing level seems to have
been established for this anomaly. This may possibly lead to
the discovery of the original ground level for the kilns upon
subsequent excavation of the surrounding levels later on this
year or in the years to come. The final discovery of the lowest
level was another fragment of the black glaze kylix excavated
at the end of last year. Such finds literally and figuratively
help to provide for a better understanding of the role of both
the kilns and their materials, and fit them into the overall
framework of the Podere Funghi and ultimately its role in the
ancient Mugello Valley. For this I owe a thanks to my excavation
crew for their hard work over the past week, and the constant
excavation and administrative assistance of my assistant along
Krishawna Brown excavating Kiln 1 in the Podere Funghi.
Podere Funghi Kiln 1 Level 1.
Podere Funghi Kiln 1 Level 8 with vertical mud brick.
Robert Belanger, Field
Excavation in the Podere Funghi has accelerated
rapidly over the past week despite the intense July heat wave
which recently settled into the Mugello Valley. This excavation
period yielded two particularly important discoveries amid work
in Trenches PF 5, 6, 17, and Kiln 1 which have provided tantalizing
clues to the nature of the structure's form and function from
an architectural perspective.
View from the south of
Trenches PF 5, 6, 9, 14 and 17 during Week 5.
Work through Trench PF 5 was completed
early on in the week with minor fineware, coarseware, and tile
fragments emerging from the remaining pockets of earth slightly
above the structure's original floor level. While these materials
are typical of the stratum, the stratigraphic profile that emerged
from the floor level showed a unique dichotomy between the southern
and western foundation walls. The southern foundation wall -
with its large, ordered blocks, multiple coursings and extremely
linear façade - has a clear foundation trench cut into
the original floor level where it was set. In contrast, the western
foundation wall - its differing construction of single coursing
filled with rubble in a more haphazard manner - has no foundation
trench and actually sits atop the later floor packing level.
This was discovered during the final wall cleanup for the pass
and seems to suggest that the western foundation wall may not
be original southern and eastern foundation walls. The stratigraphic
and architectural evidence point towards this interpretation,
but only excavation into the other side of the wall (located
in the backfilled Trench PF 7) will be able to verify this for
Southern foundation wall
with foundation trench (at right).
Virginia Lewis, Krishawna
Brown, and Robert Belanger excavating Kiln 2 in foregound.
Giuseppina Marras, Brad Schneider, and Ludo Zywczak excavating Trench PF 17
With work in Kiln 1 completed at the
end of last week, attention finally turned toward the excavation
of Kiln 2 in earnest. While much more shallow than Kiln 1, preliminary
evidence from prior excavation years pointed towards a contemporaneous
filling based on stratigraphic evidence. This theory was certified
yesterday afternoon with the discovery of the complete upper
right hand corner of an anomalous diagnostic pan tile. The central
section had a finished edge including a unique notch with a centrally
drilled hole characteristic of Etruscan smoke hole tiles from
Acquarossa. Upon returning to the lab at the end of the day,
it was discovered that this section joined a similarly anomalous
diagnostic pan tile of the same style from Kiln 1. The resulting
joinery provided the complete upper 1/3 of a smoke hole tile,
including the full 53 centimeter width. The diagnostic value
of such a unique tile aside, the depositional information of
a joining tile from two different kilns ties together the refilling
and reuse of the ceramics kilns as an architectural element well
after their use. Through such discoveries, a better understanding
of the western edge of the structure has resulted, involving
both stratigraphic and materials evidence.
PF Kiln 2 Level 2 of excavation.
As a final note, work in Trench PF 17
concluded with a final pass into entirely sterile soil, with
no evidence resulting for further extension of the lower stone
feature in Trenches PF 6, 9, and 14. This information seemingly
ends questions about the structure's northern end from an excavation
perspective, though the coming weeks the interpretation of these
materials and the work in the other excavation Trenches will
seemingly pose more.
The low stone feature ends
at the edge of PF 17, shown from the north.
Overall it has been an extremely informative
and highly rewarding week, and one which has been made possible
by the continued hard work and enthusiasm of my excavation crew.
With the final weeks approaching, such discoveries and information
bode well for the remainder of the excavation year.
Krishawna Brown and Ludo Zywczak.
Seated, left to right: Robet Belanger, Bradley Schneider, and
Excavation in the Podere
Funghi moved quickly over the past week, on account of the growing
skill of my excavation crew and the near-perfect excavation conditions
caused by a blissful streak of cool mornings, cloudy afternoons,
and rainy evenings. Although the work which was accomplished
during this time was not nearly as rich in material finds as
in previous weeks, the information garnered from it was of inestimable
value towards understanding the larger issues surrounding the
Krishawna Brown, Robert Belanger, and Virginia Lewis.
The excavation of Kiln
2 was completed early on in the week, reaching a shallow bottom
after only three short passes through the interior soil. The
thin, degraded kiln walls were heated in accordance with the
same firing characteristics as in Kiln 1, with a vitrified blue-colored
lower level capped by a higher pink-colored upper level. While
Kiln 1 showed evidence of this lower blue burn level with a substantial
amount of the pink layer intact, Kiln 2 encountered the blue
level almost immediately. The burn patterning, finds, and construction
methods of these two kilns indicate their similarity in use and
design, and coupled with the eventual stratigraphic elevation,
show Kiln 2's construction further downhill from Kiln 1. This
provenience subjected it more to the plow, which unfortunately
seems to have destroyed the vast majority of its undoubtedly
eroded upper portion. These factors permitted a quick and fruitful
excavation of the interior space to accompany the data for Kiln
1 in the MVAP Podere Funghi archives.
Excavation of Kiln 2 in
progress in the Podere Funghi.
Excavation of Podere Funghi
Kiln 2 Flue Level 1.
PF Kilns 1 and 2 from the south.
The remainder of the
work in the Podere Funghi concentrated on the completion of excavating
the lower stone feature in Trenches PF 6, 9, and 14. In the northwest
quadrant of Locus 1 in Trench PF 14, the central earth channel
between the two northeasterly running linear stone formations
was excavated into to reach the lowest level. Although stratigraphically
sound in this location between the packed stones of the northernmost
extremity, the more southern levels in Trench PF 9 were not nearly
as conclusive. Here a lower course of stones was detected beneath
the presently exposed ones and a deep trough of earth was begun,
with no end in sight for reaching the same level as the north.
Next week's excavation should hopefully reach the lowest level,
and determine finally whether or not the lower stone feature
is an earlier foundation wall or the drainage channel it appears
View from the southwest corner of Robert Belanger's Podere Funghi
Lower stone feature of Trenches PF 6 and 9.
Overall it has been a
good week in the field, and one which has again been made possible
by the continued hard work and enthusiasm of my excavation crew.
With the final week approaching, it is my hope that new discoveries
will answer some of our longstanding questions about the excavation
trenches open this year, as well as about the form and function
of the hillcrest structure in the Podere Funghi on the whole.
Hearth in Trench PF 5.
Robert Belanger's team working in his Podere Funghi trenches.
Standing: Ludo Zywczak.
Seated: Robet Belanger, Bradley Schneider, Virginia Lewis and
Belanger and Krishawna Brown lifting pan tile from PF 6.
Excavation in the Podere
Funghi moved quickly over this final week, and now that all these
units have been filled back in, the year has drawn to a close.
At the offset of this final report, I must immediately thank
my excavation crew-- Krishawna Brown, Virginia Lewis, Giuseppina
Marras, and Ludo Zywczak --for their hard work and enthusiasm
over the past two months. None of the achievements in Trenches
PF 5, 6, 9, 11, and 14 would have been possible without them.
Additionally, I must acknowledge the superb work of my assistant,
Brad Schneider, whose excavation and administrative assistance
has been absolutely integral to the success of this season. Now,
a few final notes and observations on the 2004 excavation year.
Several important architectural,
featural, and materials finds were made this season which have
influenced thinking on the construction phases of the hillcrest
structure of the Podere del Funghi. Based upon the evidence available
at the close of excavation, the interior dimensions of the building
appear to remain at 7 x 4 meters at two phases, the most recent
datable to the Hellenistic period. The widespread use of terracing
throughout the site modified this interior space by utilizing
a high predominance of excess stone and tile floor packing fill
to raise the ground level of the southern half of the structure
up to that of the preserved Hellenistic hearth. Depositional
evidence and the lack of interior post pads points to a single
chambered structure with a distinct upper and lower area provided
through terracing of the structure's interior with tile in the
lower northern half and tile and stone in the elevated southern
half. These assertions were confirmed upon the discovery of the
foundation trench for the southern foundation wall, which now
provides an understanding of the method in which the interior
space in the southern half of the building was constructed. The
original ground level of the Podere del Funghi appears to have
been leveled out, then dug into from the interior to set the
solid stones of the southern foundation wall. After this wall
was constructed the remaining trench seems to have been refilled
and the entire area packed first with tile and stone, then capped
with larger pan tile fragments (from an earlier building or phase
perhaps) to provide a solid packing layer for a dirt floor. Finally,
the northern edge was demarcated by a solid stone and rubble
terracing buttress spanning the width of the structure. In such
a way this portion of the interior space was raised above the
space below, which appears to have been constructed only with
the large fragmented tile layer directly atop an intentionally
sloped earthen channel with stones lining it.
Final photo of Trenches PF 5, 6, 9, and 14 as seen from the south.
View of Trenches PF 6 (foreground) and 5 from the west (hearth
Foundation trench at base of wall in Trench PF 5.
These discrepancies in
construction methods also highlight a seemingly intentional separation
of northern and southern space in the structure during Antiquity.
The high predominance of bone, thick coarseware sherds, and fineware
strainers in the upper hearth area points towards a definitive
use of the area in a domestic capacity rather than production.
The extremely low amount of bone and higher concentration of
fineware sherds in the lower areas to the northern interior of
the building both point towards a more industrial use for this
area. The latter is additionally supported by this year's excavation
of the northeasterly running lower stone feature. Set almost
perfectly in the center of the building and presumed to be a
drainage channel based on the evidence outlined in previous reports,
a ceramics area is a prime candidate for a natural runoff channel
to divert excess water usage from creation processes. The natural
angling of the sub-floor-packing earth in this area to the center
towards a northeasterly running line of graying Stratum 2A soil,
which both matches the dimensions of the Trench PF 9 and 14 stone
anomaly and intersects it, is an excellent indicator that this
is more than feasible. Regardless, the materials finds alone
allow for a designation between the domestic and industrial zoning
of the structure's terraced interior levels, although this is
not discounting the mixing of the two with each other. For the
southern profile of Trench PF 6 is highly suggestive that the
channel may have reached into the raised southern space of the
structure's interior levels. Further excavation in this area
may reveal the answer to this question for certain.
View from the north of lower stone feature in Trenches 6, 9,
Detail of lower stone feature shown above.
The excavation of PF
Kilns 1 and 2 has provided requisite evidence that these dug-out
features were post-depositionally filled with the same floor
packing material used in the interior space of the Hellenistic
floor level, stratigraphically placing them at the same phase
as an architectural element with the western foundation wall.
The discovery and joining of the smoke hole pan tile portions
discovered partially in each kiln asserts that the two kilns
are directly related and contemporaneous at least in their fill
in date. Observations on the depth of PF Kiln 3 in Trench PF
7 places the kiln contemporaneous with the western wall foundation
and the western wall spur, the burning of the western edge of
the latter suggesting that the wall spur's role was as a heat
shield for the interior of the structure in front of the threshold.
Although the kiln was later built over for a later wall spur
outside of that, the terracing of the structure as a whole suggests
that this later post depositional alteration of PF Kiln 3 was
in response to new problems to the threshold which have yet to
be discovered. In either case, the digging out of the subterranean
kilns and their subsequent reuse as architectural elements is
an additional factor in determining that multiple phases of the
site do in fact exist.
Podere Funghi Kilns 1 and 2 from
The discovery of the
black glaze wares over the past two years inside of Kiln 1 and
the greater predominance of them in all levels, including earlier
geometric and later imported Volterran wares, are of particular
importance to the function of the site outside of its domestic
capacity. The kilns themselves are of the type used to fire fineware
ceramics in Antiquity, and the discarded midden trench wares
indicate that a wide variety of types were being intentionally
produced. Of particular importance are the bichrome fineware
vessels found in both the midden, kiln, and structural depositions
of the site of Podere del Funghi as a whole. Until this past
season, contemporaneous discoveries of bichrome sherds on the
main arx of Poggio Colla to the northwest had pointed towards
export of the wares to other sites in an undecorated form. However,
the discovery of the black glaze kylix in Kiln 1, whose interior
fabric was in fact visible through the missing glaze sections
as bichrome, has called into question whether the wares emerging
from the Podere del Funghi during the phase in which the kilns
were actively being used were intended to be glazed wares. The
greater predominance of black glaze wares at lower levels of
the structure, buffered by subsequent bucchero discoveries, suggest
that site production may not have solely been limited to simple
domestic wares. The solid wall foundations and earlier imported
extravagant ceramic wares point towards a more refined element
driving the site's production capacity, indicated by contemporaneous
discoveries of site-specific wares within the rich arx of Poggio
Colla in the hilltop above the site.
Podere Funghi Kiln 1 from the west.
Podere Funghi Kiln 2 from the north.
Overall, this season
has been highly informative and very rewarding, both in that
it has raised engaging and provocative new questions and answered
longstanding ones about the form and function of the hillcrest
structure in the Podere del Funghi. Based on the plethora of
materials finds and the valuable contextual diagnostics from
all five trenches, the research opportunities presented this
season promise to yield a great deal more of the understanding
of the satellite communities ringing Etruscan hilltop arxes throughout
northern Etruria. With that goal in mind, the expanse information
garnered from the Podere del Funghi, even moreso as the excavation
scope widens with each passing year, will continue to provide
a better sense locally of its role in the Etruscan community
in the Mugello Valley, as well as Etruria as a whole.
View of Trenches PF 6 (foreground) and 5 from the north.
West wall of Podere Funghi building with kilns to left.
Shelf supports in Podere Funghi Kiln 1.
Podere Funghi Kiln 1 from the northeast.
Robert Belanger (in trench) explains his trench during final
tours in the Podere Funghi.
Backfilling trenches in the Podere Funghi at the end of the 2004
Survey plan of all Podere
(prior to addition of hand drawn details)
showing building, kilns, and hearth.
For photographs of key finds from trenches
in the recent season, see Finds.