2004 TRENCH PC 20

Ivo van der Graaff, Field Supervisor
Sarah Titus, Assistant Field Supervisor

Field Students:
Nicole (CoCo) Berastequi
Jeff Edwards
Lindsey Lindley
Fiammetta Calosi

Field Supervisor Ivo van der Graaff


Assistant Field Supervisor Sarah Titus.


Week 4:

Ivo van der Graaff excavating bucchero find in Trench PC 20.

Even though this last week has witnessed the long weekend break it has been characterized by many finds coming up from our trench. In fact most of our efforts have concentrated on excavating the black fill soil from the southern edge of our trench. The amounts of pottery and especially bucchero we have been collecting from this area has at times nearly overwhelmed us. However in an amazing show of solidarity and teamwork everybody, including staff and students from other trenches, pulled together for the greater good of the dig and helped us deal with the work that needed to be done. Today we reached bedrock throughout the area, which effectively signaled that we are approaching the end of our work here, thereby reducing our expectation of finds for the next couple of days considerably.

Jeff Edwards, Sarah Titus, and Ivo van der Graaff in the southern end of PC 20.

To counter this reductive trend in such a relatively rich season, we have opened the adjacent locus to excavation albeit tentatively. In fact since the stratigraphy is somewhat complicated we have been moving in this area with great caution so we can fully understand the context it encloses. However I do expect to find a continuation of the black layer in this part of our trench, thereby enhancing the prospects of more finds being discovered in the remainder of the season.

North end of Trench PC 20 as seen from southeast.

Other efforts in our section have focused on the northeastern section of our trench. In this area we took another pass to see what exactly was happening with the buttress walls heading north and the continuation of the fortification complex. The new pass revealed a stone fill in one of the spaces between the architectural features and what seems to be an earth fill in the other. This discovery fully fits our pattern of expectations even though the stone fill did seem a little curious at first, as we were not expecting such a determined effort to strengthen the defenses in this area. Naturally the meaning of such an extensive reinforcement of the arx in the closing years of its existence further validates the idea that we are dealing with an important site for the region, not only of a high economic and social value, but also of great strategic military importance. As the season progresses I am sure that the growing confidence of the students in their own abilities will only increase the prospects of fulfilling the goals we have set for the season, especially when I consider the speed at which we have been completing our work lately.

View from the north of the northern end of Trench PC 20.


Nicole "CoCo" Berastequi working in the northern end of PC 20.


Circular feature in the southern end of Trench PC 20.


Area in which a bucchero chalice fragment was found in PC 20.


Field Supervisor Ivo van der Graaff and Assistant Field Supervisor Sarah Titus working in PC 20.


Lindsey Lindley, Ivo van der Graaff, and Nicole Berastequi discuss PC 20 finds.


Ivo van der Graaff, Field Supervisor of Trench PC 20.


Week 5:

Left to right: Ivo van der Graaff, CoCo Berastequi, Amy Dahm, Sarah, Titus, and Greg Warden.

This week has been characterized by the full formation of the team in our trench. In fact the community effort among us is rapidly gaining strength as we gain more confidence and reliability in each other's abilities. The work is still hard but the merry atmosphere among us is making the job lighter by the day.

Wall in south locus of Trench PC 20 as seen from the south.

The trench has been yielding many finds and continues to amaze most of us on the dig. Not only have the artifacts we uncovered yielded much new information, also the deeper levels of our section have revealed interesting new features. An important new development is our discovery of a second coursing of wall underneath what we thought was a lonely phase one architectural block. The depth of our trench permitted us to ascertain that we had discovered a wall, which is to be attributed to the oldest occupation event witnessed by our site. This architectural feature seems to be falling in line with similar blocks uncovered in earlier years of the excavation, further validating the theory that they actually belong to the earliest architecture placed on the area. Furthermore the blocks are surrounded by a foundation trench, which was originally dug in the bedrock to accommodate them. This trench appears to be the only clear-cut example of such a feature to have been discovered on the site, further adding importance to our discovery.

Above and below: foundation trench with two large blocks visible in scarp in Trench PC 20.

Other work in the trench has revealed that our southern terrace wall is actually resting on bedrock. This might mean that this wall is actually earlier in date than we thought, unless someone took the trouble to dig through the earlier occupation levels to accommodate it. The stratigraphy however has been stubborn in giving up answers to this question and further excavation will be needed in the adjacent loci to test this theory.

Southern terrace wall in Trench PC 20.

Stratigraphy in west profile of Trench PC 20 (perpendicularly contiguous to photo above).

Excavations on the north side of the wall however have revealed large fragments of Bucchero vessels, which seem to join others we have found on the south side of it. This circumstance seems to corroborate the theory that the event surrounding the construction of the wall included the digging of a foundation trench (similar to the one mentioned above) through these lower layers, as the former now seem to testify a single depositional event. As the dig continues into its final phases I am confident that our crew will work to the best of their efforts, before this season draws to a close, to answer the new developments posed by our section.

Jeff Edwards and Lindsey Lindley in Trench PC 20 (north of the southernmost terrace wall).


Jeff Edwards and Lindsey Lindley excavating next to the circular feature in the south locus of PC 20,
while Sarah Titus and Ivo van der Graaff coach them from the side of the trench.


Lindsey Lindley working in a small area between the wall and the scarp.


View from the south of the west half of Trench PC 20.


Nicole Berastequi and Amy Dahm opening the southwest corner of PC 20.


Week 6:

Left to right: Ivo van der Graaff, Sarah Titus stand-in Brad Schneider,
Jeff Edwards, Nicole Berastequi, and Lindsey Lindley.


Assistant Field Supervisor Sarah Titus.

This week has sadly seen the departure of my assistant Sarah back to America in order to attend a wedding. In response to the help we desperately needed Bradley Schneider joined us from the FOD, as the trench run by my colleague Base was completed early and therefore needed less manpower to complete the remaining details associated with its closure.

Ivo van der Graaff and Brad Schneider standing in for Sarah Titus.

In Locus 3 we had reached bedrock and after we had drawn the scarp in we proceeded to move east into Locus Six in order to get a head start on the excavation we intend to carry out in the same section next season. We cleared the top accumulation layers in a matter of days and before we knew it we were back into the destruction layer associated with the earliest phases of our site. A first pass into this stratum soon revealed an interesting discovery, namely, another Phase One block directly in line with the others already discovered in Locus Three. In order to keep up with the traditions of the site, its excavator Nicole amicably baptized the block, Saint Clifford. The block indeed caused much excitement and I look forward to exploring it more as we continue our excavation of the locus.

Phase I block in Locus 6 of Trench PC 20.

A second pass through the area which we started today revealed even more good news as our newest member Bradley immediately discovered an iron spearhead in the pass. It is the first of its kind ever found on the site. Even though it survived in a badly corroded state, the fact that it was discovered in the displaced debris layer surely will give us new insights to the events which took place surrounding the destruction of the first phase of the site.

Bradley Schneider and his iron spearhead.


Ivo van der Graaff supervising work in his trench.

Other work in the trench has focused primarily in Locus Four in between the two walls. The confusing stratigraphical matrix we encountered here only gave way to our understanding early this week. As often occurs in archaeology, it is only when we reach the deeper layers of the stratigraphy that we truly can get a grasp of what is occurring above. In any case our assumption that the debris accumulation layer continued throughout the locus proved wrong as the so-called 'black layer' petered out on top of what we now call Stratum Six. It in fact seems that the latter was dug into the former to create a sort of foundation trench for the construction of our southern wall, with the black layer being dumped into it, again functioning as a fill; however, it is still to early to ascertain that assumption with complete certainty and further excavation will be needed to confirm this theory.

An area in Locus 4 in PC 20 turning up interesting ceramic finds.

In the meantime after a brief respite offered by the excavation of the relatively 'empty' accumulation layers, the trench has again started to turn out large amounts of interesting finds. The hard work therefore continues well into these last phases of the excavation at full speed. The routine acquired by the crew however seems to compensate the renewed increase in pace making me confident that the end of the season will proceed without a hitch.

View of Trench PC 20 from the northwest.

Conserved bucchero finds from Trench PC 20.


PC 20 stone carved with channel.


Left: Lindsey Lindley holds the prism pole to survey points of finds in PC 20.
Right: Nicole Berastequi excavating in the northern locus of PC 20.


Jeff Edwards shows two fragments of a
ceramic vessel he found in Trench PC 20.


Left to right: Ivo van der Graaff, Sarah Titus stand-in Brad Schneider,
Jeff Edwards, Nicole Berastequi, and Lindsey Lindley.



Week 7:

Ivo van der Graaff, Bradley Schneider, and Jeff Edwards making final drawings of PC 20.

The last week of excavation did not produce any major new surprises except for new insights into the dynamics of the events surrounding the time frame of our unit. After some initial difficulties we managed to ascertain that we may have identified a major foundation trench for the construction of our southern terracing wall. It became clear as we dug down that our black layer (also present on the northern side of the wall), probably formed the fill of this trench as it is sitting into what probably is an earlier deposition layer. This stratum at this point seems to be part of the occupational event which probably produced the black layer used to fill the area in the subsequent development of the site. The nature of the new level seems to be that of a trash pit or a fill of some sort due to finds we have uncovered, such as large bone fragments, charcoal inclusions and broken pottery. We have however reached what seems to be bedrock in one of the corners of this area. Further excavations in the adjacent locus will be required next year to help us clarify the exact dynamics of these events which still seem somewhat unclear at this point, especially because we picked up from such a low point in the stratigraphy this year. New research in the unexcavated fresh stratigraphy of the trench will certainly help us clarify further what is happening in our unit.

View of Trench PC 20 from the southwest.


Foundation trench, large blocks, and dark soil in scarp of south locus of PC 20.

As we were now in the last week of excavation, most of the work has actually consisted in finishing off the final passes in the various locations of the trench and making sure that the administration of the various materials we pulled up this year was completely and formally updated. This task, due to the massive amounts of finds we have had this year, was not an easy one but the trench pulled together and again we managed to complete the work. The final stages of the fieldwork consisted of back filling the trench. This is a communal effort of everyone on the site, as every trench is required to complete the same task. In this process we re-fill the individual units with the earth we have removed from it throughout the season and the prior excavation events, so that they reach the normal ground level again. We conduct this process in order to protect all the architecture and information in the trenches until they are reopened to new excavation in the following seasons.

Ivo van der Graaff drawing one of dozens of finds from a day's work in PC 20.


Bucket brigade during 2004 Poggio Colla backfill.

This season has been an exciting and apparently short one. I would like to thank the team that was always happy to accept any challenge, especially that daunting one posed by our unit this season. I also would particularly like to thank Sarah and Bradley for helping me run the trench inside and outside of the field. Their efforts were remarkable, adapting to every situation as it presented itself and never shying in the face of new challenges. In all I consider the past few weeks very successful in clarifying some of the questions we had posed at the start of the season. However new questions have arisen during our excavation, as is normal during archaeological research. They have to remain largely unanswered until renewed excavation of the area will take place in the following years.

Assistant Field Supervisors Sarah Titus and Bradley Schneider.


Ivo van der Graaff gives the final tour of Trench PC 20.


Above and below, views of the south end of Trench PC 20 as seen from the northwest.


South locus of Trench PC 20 as seen from the south.


Center of Trench PC 20 viewed from the west.


Center of Trench PC 20 viewed from the south.


North end of Trench PC 20 as seen from the west.


View from the south of Trench PC 20 at the end of the 2004 field season.


Survey plan of Trench PC 20 (prior to addition of hand drawn details).


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