2004 TRENCHES PC 24 & 26

Josh Moran, Field Supervisor
Aaron Bartels, Assistant Field Supervisor

Field Students:
Marie Hall
Kamissa Mort
Kelley Satarino

Left: Field Supervisor Josh Moran. Right: Assistant Field Supervisor Aaron Bartels.

Week 4:

Left to right: Josh Moran, Marie Hall, Kelley Satarino, and Kamissa Mort in Trench PC 26.

In PC 24 and PC 26, we are still making headway on our excavation goals. We are steadily removing dirt from our trench and making some interesting discoveries along the way.

Kamissa Mort, Marie Hall, Josh Moran, and Kelley Satarino.

Late last week, Marie discovered a patch of soil that was significantly darker than the soil surrounding it. After we had cleared off the dirt from our current pass down to the surface of this dark soil, we could see that it contained a lot of large pieces of burnt wood. Because she discovered it, Marie filled out the appropriate paperwork and drew a small plan of the feature. She then began to excavate it. As excavation proceeded, we found more large pieces of carbon as well as many small metallic inclusions that were severely corroded. We took one of the largest pieces of charcoal as a sample that can later be used for carbon (C14) dating, if we so decide. It is obvious that this feature was some sort of fire pit, however it is uncertain what function this fire pit performed.

Marie Hall fills out paperwork and draws her feature.

We have also begun more excavation in the western portion of our trench. We are attempting to the entire northern half of our trench excavated to the same depth. In the process, we are still finding a lot of artifacts which appear to be associated with the destruction of the site. However, I know we must be getting close to (or have already dug through) a floor level of some sort considering the fact that artifacts seem to be more infrequent in the lower part of our pass.

Josh Moran, Kelley Satarino, andMarie Hall in Trench PC 26--view from northeast.

During excavation in the western portion, Kamissa uncovered a number of tile fragments in the northern portion of the trench. She removed the soil from around the fragments while at the same time leaving them in situ (in the spot that they were found) so that we can see if there is any pattern or significance to their placement. The soil in which she is working has also turned a very reddish color, which is probably due to staining or leeching of color from the tile and mudbrick which it contains.

View of several Poggio Colla Trenches PC 24 and 26 from the south.

Also in the western half of the trench, Kelley discovered a large fragment of a coarseware loomweight. Other trenches have reported finding such objects near the area in which we are working, however this is the first object of its type that we have seen in PC 26. This would have been used while weaving cloth or other textiles. Finds like this may provide us with some insight into what processes occurred in our trenches just to the south of the main building.


Week 5:

PC 24 and PC 26 are still moving right along. Each day seems to turn up more interesting artifacts and information. Much of this information still seems to create more questions than it answers.

Kelley Satarino exposing elements of the rubble in the northwest locus of Trench PC 26.

In the northwestern portion of PC 26, we have uncovered a lot of rubble in the trench. It is rather deep and composed of a mixture of sandstone, mudbrick and tile. Kelley has spent a few days removing the dirt from around these various pieces so that we can get a good idea of their overall appearance. From the looks of things, this rubble may be something that fell off of the wall foundation that is in the trench directly to the north of us. This is a bit problematic though, because up to this point we had assumed that we were already deeper than the material that was associated with the final destruction of the building.

Assistant Field Supervisor Aaron Bartels excavating coarseware fragments.

In the southwestern quarter of PC 26, Aaron is uncovering a large amount of coarseware vessel fragments. Most of these fragments all appear to be parts of one large vessel. Additionally, some pieces of antler have been found mixed in with these pieces. The way the vessel pieces are spread out looks very much like they have been crushed by something. Coincidentally, there are some very large pieces of burnt wood that are being found on top of and in between these fragments. It seems possible that a large burning timber or roof beam could have collapsed and crushed these vessels. We haven't yet exposed all of these fragments, so the picture may change as we get to see more of these.

Marie Hall defining Feature 4 in Trench PC 26.

Marie is continuing work on Feature #4 in the northeastern part of the trench. She took a soil sample which can later be used by specialists for testing. These specialists can identify things such as seeds and pollen from ancient plants to help us identify what crops Etruscans may have grown, as well as what native plants grew naturally in this area 2200 years ago. From what was visible, the sample included some larger pieces of burnt wood, some bone and some small fragments of corroded metal. Analysis of all of this material can help us interpret what purpose our feature served.

Large coarseware vessel handle fragment from Trench PC 26.

Back in the northwestern quarter, Kamissa uncovered a very large coarseware handle fragment. The fabric of this type of ceramic is very white with a lot of small grainy inclusions in it. Usually when we see ceramic of this type, it comes out very poorly preserved. However, in this case the fragment was very nicely preserved and included a fair amount of the body portion to which the handle was attached. Fragments like these are useful when we are trying to determine both the date of the stratum in which it was found and the function of that particular area of the building.

Left to right: Marie Hall, Kamissa Mort, and Kelley Satarino in Trench PC 26.



View of Trench PC 26 during Week 5.


Left: Kelley Satarino digging. Right: Kamissa Mort makes a find tag for the base fragment she found in PC 26.


Week 6:

Left to right: Aaron Bartels, Kelley Satarino,
Marie Hall, Josh Moran, and Kamissa Mort.

As we near the end of excavation, we are concentrating our efforts on the western half of PC 26. This will allow us to get to a reasonable depth along the western wall foundation. We will also be able to remove a lot of the large coarseware fragments in Locus 4 which I have now decided to call Feature 5.

View of Trench PC 26 from the northeast.

In the northwest portion of the trench, we have removed the majority of the sandstone, tile and mudbrick rubble. While it seemed like there would be a chance of finding crushed vessels or something else to that effect beneath it, we did in fact find almost nothing. The soil in the northern portion of that area was stained a very deep red and black color because of all the mudbrick that was contained in and above it. The soil in the center of this quarter of the trench is very yellow and contains almost no artifacts. In the southern part of this quadrant, the soil is very dark grey with large bits of ceramic and tile in it as well as a fair number of artifacts. We have a very strange mix of soils in this portion of the trench and it seems unclear why.

Kelley Satarino and Marie Hall digging in Trench PC 26.

We've found that the western wall foundation extends very deeply into our trench. We are now in our sixth pass in Stratum 3 and the wall foundation still appears to go deeper. So far it seems to have at least 5 layers of stone and extends approximately one meter deep in our trench. This is very much in contrast to the eastern wall foundation in our trench which only has two layers of stone and only goes about 50 cm deep.

View from the east showing the west wall in Trench PC 26.


View from the west of the east wall in PC 26.

Lately, we have been finding a lot of large pieces of ceramic storage vessels. We have one white coarseware base which has a spiral pattern in the base. This is made from the same type of ceramic which our coarseware handle from last week was made (which by the way we found the other matching half to, so we now have the whole handle). We also found a large portion of the rim and handle to a large fineware vessel. It has a very nice profile which might be useful in assessing a date for its manufacture. Also interesting was the discovery of a very large base to a pythos vessel. It has a stepped platform which it would have rested on. The fabric is very thick and the curvature of the base is very shallow, which means this would have been an extremely large vessel.

Fineware and coarseware finds from PC 26 with drawing in field notebook on Josh Moran's desk.

We are looking forward to excavating the rest of Locus 4 now. The large coarseware fragments look like they will join together so that we can reconstruct significant portions of a few large vessels. This will be our priority for the remainder of the excavation season because of the complexity involved. This area also contains a number of very large pieces of burnt wood which we would like to be able to get out in once piece. Carbonized wood is very fragile so we will have to take out a large portion of the dirt around it and let conservators remove it in the lab with very sensitive tools. Hopefully, these next few days will go well.

Aaron Bartels examines a find from PC 26 while Kamissa Mort looks on.


Kelley Satarino, Aaron Bartels, Kamissa Mort, and Marie Hall encircle their leader, Josh Moran.

Week 7:

Josh Moran drawing ceramic finds in his field notebook.

We've wrapped up the 2004 season and PC 24 and PC 26 have yielded some interesting information about themselves and hopefully the rest of the site. However, we are still far from understanding exactly what took place here.

Final photo of Trenches PC 24 and 26 from the southwest.

Part of our problem was that all of our excavation took place in Stratum 3. It turned out to be much thicker than we had imagined. Oftentimes the next stratum can reveal a lot about the function of the one above it. In this case we are left trying to interpret the function of Stratum 3 based only upon that which we have found within it. It is certain that there was a high amount of activity associated with this soil due to the large number of artifacts that were found within it. However, we do not have enough evidence to determine what that activity was. It still very much looks like it could have been the result of the final destruction of the building in the early 2nd century B.C.E.

View of Trench PC 26 from the south.

If nothing else, PC 26 will definitely provide us with some nice additions to our pottery typology. We found a number of large portions of various types of vessels ranging from fineware to coarseware and even some black glaze and bucchero. A fairly complete fineware bowl was found early in the season that has a shape for which one of our ceramic experts was unable to find a matching example. This follows the trend of what appear to be rather unique pottery types being made at or near our site in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C.E. On the last day of excavation we uncovered a number of large pieces of pithos and other large storage vessels. This also includes a very fragmentary but nearly complete profile of a coarseware vessel that probably stood about 3 feet tall at one time. Unfortunately, it was not very well preserved and came apart as we removed it. Hopefully the conservators will be able to reconstruct it next season.

Final photo of Trenches PC 24 and 26 from the west.

PC 24 and PC 26 are still very much a mystery. Every day of excavation our opinions of what was going on seemed to change. Many things in the trench remain unexplained at the end of this season and could very easily remain that way for many seasons to come. Even so, things look very promising for this trench. It has great potential to tell us a lot about what happened at Poggio Colla over 2200 years ago. The students and staff did a great job of excavating PC 24 and PC 26 this season and we are greatly looking forward to further excavation next season.

Josh Moran, Kelley Satarino, and Aaron Bartels cleaning their trench for final photos.


Aaron Bartels, Kelley Satarino, and Josh Moran measuring for final drawings of PC 24 and 26.


Final photo of Trenches PC 24 and 26 from the east.


Closer view of the west wall in Trench PC 26.


Survey plan of Trenches PC 24 and 26 (prior to addition of hand drawn details).


For photographs of key finds from trenches in the recent season, see Finds.