2004 TRENCHES PC 19, 22, & 27

Caitlin Vacanti, Field Supervisor
Jessica Galeano, Assistant Field Supervisor

Field Students:
Elizabeth Bair
Rachael Henry
Benjamin Luley

Field Supervisor Caitlin Vacanti.

Assistant Field Supervisor Jessica Galeano as Amphibian Woman.

Week 4:

View of Trench PC 27 from the northwest corner, with Ben Luley and Caitlin Vacanti at work.

This past week has been fairly uneventful, albeit productive. Everyone returned from our long weekend with great stories that could quite possibly fuel conversation for the rest of the season. After a restful four days, our first mission was to attack our stumps with fervor. With an out lash of energy, teamwork, and a little bit of luck, we have successfully removed all of the stumps and roots that covered the floor of PC 27. I am proud to say that the whole of our trench has learned how to give a proper "Yarrrr!!!!" as they toss these stumps aside.

Caitlin Vacanti victorious after hacking a huge stump and roots from her trench.

Now that the grunt work is through, we can concentrate on excavating without obstructions. Liz and Rachael have already uncovered a large quantity of broken tile and pottery sherds in the western half of PC 27, which suggest we have yet another interior space west of the main rectangular structure. In the eastern half of the trench, Ben has defined a new foundation wall running north that does not line up with any walls we have found thus far. The stones in this wall are quite large and some look as though they may have been worked. I think this may be a buttress for the fortification walls that PC 20 is excavating. However, as the fortification walls run much deeper than those of the rectangular structure, the function of this wall remains to be seen.

Ben Luley defining the foundation wall in Trench PC 27,
while Caitlin Vacanti works on a tree stump (background).

Jess has stayed strong working solo in PC 22. She excavated through stratum 4, which we believe to be preparation for the second phase of the building. Therefore she did not find many artifacts here. Rachael joined her yesterday and the two have excavated beautifully and rapidly as a team.

Jessica Galeano and Rachael Henry working in PC 22.

I hope to have all of PC 22 finished in the coming week. We will also continue digging in PC 19, which with any luck will not take long to complete.

Caitlin Vacanti teaches Elizabeth Bair to use the Munsell Chart.


Rachael Henry working in Trench PC 22.


Week 5:

This week our team moved a lot of dirt. Everyone rotated through all three trenches, enduring long periods of intense heat and sun exposure. Unfortunately members of the Podere Funghi team stole our trench mascot, but our resourcefulness helped us rebound from this loss to create a new and powerful symbol by which to excavate. We thus excavated with newfound fervor, revealing intriguing results.

Rachael Henry in Trench PC 22.

In PC 19 and 22 we have been digging through low activity strata which yield few, but very old pottery sherds. Excavation in the northeast locus of PC 22 has revealed a linear formation of stones which we theorize to be an archaic foundation wall. It is comprised of three large stones with small stone rubble placed between them for reinforcement. Interestingly it sits on what is now theorized to be our Phase I floor level, stratum five. PC 23 has found walls of a similar construction at this same level, which tells us this could be a structure or series of structures from our earliest period of occupation.

Jessica Galeano, Benjamin Luley, and Elizabeth Bair working in Trench PC 27.

Excavation in PC 27 has revealed some intersting finds as well. West of the most recently discovered foundation wall (discussed last week) we uncovered a patch of grayish soil which is dense with destruction debris, including large coarseware pottery sherds, fineware pottery sherds and very fragmentary tile. This dirt does not appear to be separated from the rest of the locus by any stones and thus is perplexing. At the moment I am considering the possibility that this is a pile of rubble collected after the destruction of the site as people came back to salvage any usable material. However, as we learn over and over again while excavating, these theories can only last as long as they are proved or disproved by our findings, and I am anxious to see how this curious collection of debris is related to the soil around it.

Assistant Field Supervisor Jessica Galeano in PC 27.

This next week being our final full week of excavation, we have a lot of work to do. I expect all excavation of PC 19 and 22 to be completed in the next few days so we can concentrate on 27. I then hope we can decide both what the gray soil in the northern locus is and possibly the function of the foundation wall running north through the trench.

Elizabeth Bair excavating in Trench PC 27.


Benjamin Luley taking a pass in Trench PC 27.


Caitlin Vacanti and Rachael Henry defining the wall in PC 22.


Week 6:

Left to right: Liz Bair, Jessica Galeano, Caitlin Vacanti, Rachael Henry, and Ben Luley.

Excavation during week six has revealed many findings. At the beginning of the week Liz worked in the southwest corner of PC 27, which probably occupies the same space as the storage rooms in the western loci of PC 19 and 22. While defining a foundation wall extending west, she discovered ancient chisel marks on a rectangular stone. We now think this worked stone may be from the second phase of construction, and reused when they built the Phase Three structure. Interestingly, she also defined what appears to be to be a full mudbrick (of which the wall would have been comprised) in the same locus. We noticed that the mudbrick and stone seemed to be similar in shape and size, so we compared their dimensions. We found that the stone was only about a centimeter longer and wider than the brick, suggesting that the two might have been constructed with definite dimensions in mind. In this locus Rachael also found a rim fragment of a Volterran painted skyphos, which has a black glaze with palmette design painted in red. Just a few days later Liz found another piece of the rim, and we discovered in the conservation lab that the two join! Our resident black glaze expert Ann Steiner was very pleased and anxious to see the two conserved fragments together next season.

Caitlin Vacanti watches Liz Bair fill out a find tag for her black glaze rim fragment.

We also excavated a feature in PC 27, located toward the north and consisting of a dark grayish soil with large fragments of roof tile and ceramic debris. This area was thick with pottery sherds including pythos rims and black glaze fragments. This suggests the debris was placed here during a later phase of occupation, but we need to excavate further next season in order to determine what this definite patch of debris could be.

Ben Luley in Trench PC 27.


View from the south of Trenches PC 19 and 22.

Last but certainly not least, we have worked extensively in PC 19 and 22, trying to wrap up excavation here and close them for the time being. While taking out the sixth stratum in PC 22, Ben discovered yet another opening to our fissure, which probably connects to the aperture in PC 23. It looked as though several stones were placed above the fissure as fill while preparing for a level dirt floor during construction of the second phase of the building. We were very excited to remove these stones and see if anything had been placed inside the fissure before it was covered up, however, upon removal we peered in with a flashlight to see only the flat walls of a natural fissure. While dense with votive pits consisting of animal remains above, it now seems we do not have any substantial deposits within the fissure itself. Jess spent much of the week in these trenches as well, and we all owe her a debt of gratitude for completing excavation here this season.

Recently discovered opening to the fissure in Trench PC 22.

At this point, we only have a couple days of excavation remaining. Most of our time will consist of cleaning up--making sure profiles are straight and removing any dirt that should not cover the floor of the trench. Starting Monday we will draw our final plans and begin to backfill all the dirt. I have had a really fun time with our team and appreciate all the work they have done. It's always difficult to put the dirt back into the trenches we have worked so hard to excavate, but I am confident we collected all the information this area has to yield and that it will greatly contribute to our understanding of the site.

At center, wall in PC 22 where it adjoins PC 23 (PC 23 scarp at right)


Rachael Henry and Ben Luley.


Liz Bair inside the "Monkey Wall."


Tiger Woman (Caitlin Vacanti, left) and Amphibian Woman (Jessica Galeano, right).


Week 7:

Caitlin Vacanti, Benjamin Luley, and Jessica Galeano cleaning their trenches for final photos.

The final week of our 2004 field season was spent wrapping up excavation and preparing the site for our departure. As of last Friday, I can officially (and happily) announce that excavation in PC 19 and 22 is complete, at least for the immediate future. Our last few passes through these trenches turned up no finds and it looks as though we are in sterile soil.

Above and below: two views of Trenches PC 19 and 22 from the south.

On Friday we also scrambled to finish a pass in PC 27, where we came upon a fairly extensive carbon feature. It was located in the same interior space as the storage rooms of PC 19 and 22 and contained several large fragments of burnt bone and wood. At the moment I cannot explain its presence amid destruction debris, aside from a ventured guess that the bones were already in the room when it burned down (as we by no means found a complete skeleton).

View from the east: north end of PC 19 at left; PC 27 at right. Carbon feature upper right.

On Monday Jess, Ben and I swept up the excess dirt for final photos and drew final plans while backfill in the Podere Funghi began. We then spent all day Tuesday and Wednesday morning backfilling Poggio Colla. Fortunately we had some cloud cover during most of the process, which made the strenuous work more bearable than if the days had been sunny. I found backfill to be quite fun because everyone worked together for the first time since the start of the season. I was absolutely amazed by the volume of earth we moved in just a few days, as we stayed ahead of schedule throughout.

Benjamin Luley, Jessica Galeano, and Caitlin Vacanti drawing scarp in Trench PC 27.

Our trench team reached all the goals set out for us at the beginning of the season and I'd like to extend my appreciation to them for all their hard work. Jess has been the best assistant one could ask for, and Ben, Rachael, and Liz made the season fun as well as intellectually stimulating. It was trying at times to excavate through such deep strata with few finds, but this work has yielded very important information on the early activity of the site. The two piles of stone rubble in PC 19 and 22 that were discovered last season were at first difficult to interpret--did people place them there and, if so, why? Further excavation this season revealed the answer. We found rubble packing at the same level used to fill openings to the fissure. It now seems clear that these stones were placed to close the natural gaps in bedrock and flatten the site in preparation for the floor level of a building, probably that of the second phase. Excavation of PC 19 and 22, though confusing at times, has provided insight into the architecture of Poggio Colla as well as the site's significance. I have spent a fascinating four seasons in these trenches, but, having learned a lot about this area of the structure, we are now ready to move north and focus on PC 27.

Southeast quadrant of Trench PC 22.


Southwest quadrant of Trench PC 27.

Work in PC 27 over two seasons has revealed one architectural anomaly after another. Here we are exploring to the north, at an intersection between the west and north limits of the (supposed) courtyard and the storage rooms behind the west wall. The complexity of this location along with its proximity to the perplexing curvilinear wall (Feature A) led us to dig here with theories on what stratigraphy and architecture we might find, but certainly no expectations. It turns out our flexibility in thought was essential, as we could not have predicted some of our findings. At the end of two seasons in this trench we have uncovered a wall heading north that abruptly stops midway through the trench, a more substantial wall running parallel that could have functioned in the fortification structure (see PC 20), and stone rubble throughout the center of the trench that seemingly is wall spill. The only hypothesized wall that does in fact exist is the one heading west to enclose the storage room in PC 19, and within it is a beautifully worked rectangular stone. This stone seems to be re-used from an earlier phase, but is too small to be considered a Phase II block. I think it may have been used at an earlier date as part of an interior structure, or at least a wall that was much less substantial than those we find around the circumference of the Phase II building. This can be supported by the large Phase II blocks we have found in PC 19 and 27 that sit in their original placement underneath Phase III construction. These stones are probably a part of a Phase II corner that ran directly under that of Phase III in the northwest corner. As PC 27 has been so cluttered with interesting architecture, our attention has been focused on defining which stones are structural and which are rubble. Now that we have a good understanding of the walls, we can move on next season to remove non-structural stones and work on mapping out the stratigraphy. We have yet to get through Stratum 3 in many loci here and I look forward to deciphering the function of these various walls in the future.

Phase II blocks in Trenches PC 19 (left) and PC 27 (right). View from east.

This season has taught us a lot about the overall plan of the site as well as its age. I've had a great time with our team and, once again, want to thank them for their important contribution to the site. It's always hard to say goodbye at the end of the season, but I feel confident we will remain in touch. You never know what will be found a year from now and how much it will change our theories, but this is the learning process that keeps us coming back.

View of Trench PC 19 from the north with Phase II blocks inside the curvilinear wall Feature A.


PC 22 (foreground), PC 19 (curved wall), and PC 27 (background).


Survey plan of Trenches PC 19, 22, and 27
(prior to addition of hand drawn details).


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