2004 TRENCHES PC 23 & 25

Robert Vander Poppen, Field Supervisor
Martha Reichert, Assistant Field Supervisor

Field Students:
Victoria Mead
Sarah McCrory
Jonathan Mort
Olivia Spradlin

Field Supervisor and Assistant Field Director Robert Vander Poppen.


Assistant Field Supervisor Marty Reichert.

Week 4:

This week we have made great progress in Trench PC 23. The week has followed the long weekend and our students had the opportunity to travel to places such as Civitavecchia, Sienna, Rome and Rimini. Everyone seems to have returned recharged for excavation, as we have begun to move some serious dirt throughout the trench. In addition, the students have begun to develop their excavating skills to the point of experienced diggers. As a result of this flurry of activity there is much to talk about in our area of excavation.

Victoria Mead, standing in the western end of Trench PC 23. View from the south.

The week began working in the western end of the trench to bring the level down to the time period before extensive human activity on Poggio Colla. We seem to have done so finally, after digging this area of the trench to a depth of nearly two meters. Slightly to the south Sarah and Tory isolated and cleared the soil from an ancient floor level associated with the initial phase of occupation atop the hill. We hope to further explore that level in the weeks to come.

Left to right: Victoria Mead, Jonathan Mort, Sarah McCrory, Olivia Spradlin in PC 23.

In the center and east ends of the trench we have been working to bring the soil down to a common level atop the soil that served as a floor for our Archaic Period complex atop the hill. This job should be completed by week's end. In the process of clearing the floor level we removed the remnants of the upper portion of a pit that looters excavated into the site in the Spring of 2001. As Olivia and Jon have worked to bring the soil consistently down to this level we have discovered a number of stones protruding up from the next stratum. The stones are arranged in what can roughly be called a square. I am hesitant, however, to call the stones any kind of structure due to the poor nature of their alignment and their small size (probably disqualifying them from supporting even the lightest of walls). We will work this week to gain a deeper look at the stones and see if there exists a second course of rubble or other evidence that may support a belief that the stones may actually represent foundations.

Left to right: Victoria Mead, Jonathan Mort, Sarah McCrory, and Olivia Spradlin in PC 23.

We also began excavation in PC 25 this week, an area to the south of the eastern portion of PC 23. Here Martha and her father, who was visiting for a few days, worked to remove a portion of the destruction debris from the third phase building. In the course of excavation Martha discovered a glass bead, while Skip discovered a number of pieces of a large coarseware vessel. Once we had completed removing this portion of the debris, Martha began to work on removing the dark black soil around the group of stones believed to be some kind of rough altar in the southeast corner of the trench. Today as she began excavating she discovered what may be a fissure in the natural rock of the hilltop. This would be an exciting discovery because of the association of the previous fissure with an early votive deposit. Also of interest is Sarah's discovery, slightly to the west of the altar stones, that the underlying bedrock had been cut by the Etruscan inhabitants. Hopefully, this week will serve to begin to wrap up some of the loose ends of the excavation and also cause us to begin asking new questions.

Marty and Skip Reichert excavating in Trench PC 25 while Robert Vander Poppen supervises.


Marty Reichert and her father Skip Reichert excavating together in Trench PC 25.


Robert Vander Poppen at his supervisorial desk.


Week 5:

V.P. pontificates.

We have had an exciting week in PC 23. At the beginning of the week we worked to excavate the final portions of our westernmost loci, working to remove the layers of early terracing and sterile soil from this section of the trench. We have discovered that in this area the inhabitants of the site packed a number of large stones against the bedrock in an attempt to level off the surface of the hilltop. Olivia and Jon worked early in the week to define the pattern of this rubble.

View of PC 23 from the south with, left to right, Jonathan Mort, Olivia Spradlin,
Victoria Mead, Sarah McCrory, and Marty Reichert.

In the eastern portion of the trench we have discovered what may be a structure comprised of a construction of lighter walls. Unfortunately, we have yet to find an area where the rubble that we believe to be wall foundations continues in more than a single course. Nevertheless, the linearity of the rubble is suggestive. If this is indeed a light structure it would date to a period after the destruction of the Phase I building, but before the terracing project that prepared the site for the construction of the Phase II structure. Up to this point, Marty, Sarah and Victoria have been working to clear the floor level of this building. It appears that we may have a different stratigraphic history inside of the lines of rubble than outside.

Above (view from north) and below (view from southwest): possible construction of lighter walls.

In the northern section of the trench we have uncovered a soil which contains much in the way of charred organic matter and a number of pieces of bucchero and impasto pottery. This layer has also produced a great quantity of bone finds. As a result, I believe that this stratum may be the same one that PC 20 has been excavating throughout much of the season.

Assistant Field Supervisor Martha Reichert between the hearth and northeast corner of PC 23.


Olivia Spradlin excavating near the fissure in Trench PC 23.


View into PC 23. Left to right: Sarah McCrory, Victoria Mead, and Olivia Spradlin.


View of Trench PC 23 from the east during Week 5 of the 2004 field season.


Martha Reichert and Robert Vander Poppen work in PC 23 while students take a cookie break.


Week 6:

Standing, left to right : Jon Mort, Sarah McCrory, Robert Vander Poppen,
and Martha Reichert. Seated, left to right: Victoria Mead and Olivia Spradlin.

This week many of the loose ends from past seasons have begun to come together. Much of our work has concentrated away from the Eastern two loci of PC 23 due to the fact that this portion of the trench will be open again next year. As a result we have focused our excavation in loci 1-4 of the trench (the western loci). We have also begun to work on cleaning up the north and south scarps in preparation for our drawing at the end of the week. We have discovered that Jon Mort, with his abilities as a sculptor, is an excellent scarper. He has the knack of creating a perfect vertical profile at the trench edge, while leaving all of the bits of ceramic and tile sticking out of the wall. While working on this delicate project Jon uncovered a number of beautiful fineware ceramics.

Left: Jon Mort works on scarp in PC 23. Right: Victoria Mead.

In Locus 2 we have brought the level of the trench down to the top of our 7th stratum, a soil that we believe to be sterile. We will take one more pass in this area in order to confirm our suspicions about that belief. On the opposite side of the wall we believe that we have identical stratigraphy at all levels. After Olivia and Marty have taken passes this week it appears that the situation within our possible structure does indeed match that of the soil outside. This would suggest that our structure is indeed not an actual building, but more a packing of rubble. Since we are not completely convinced about this fact, we will leave in the rubble until next season before pulling it out.

Olivia Spradlin taking a pass within the "possible structure" in Trench PC 23.

To the south of this area in Locus 3 we have begun to encounter large pieces of bedrock coupled with the remains of a large pit which seems to be composed of a mixture of materials deposited on top of Poggio Colla over the course of almost 400 years. Anthony Tuck, the director of the Etruscan excavation at Poggio Civitate, has dated one sherd of bucchero pottery with a herring bone pattern to 675-650 B.C. This is amazing since we have black glaze pottery from the same context that dates our context to as late as 250 BC. Thus, material from all over the hill was gathered up before the construction of the Phase III building and deposited in a pit in front of the stones we believe to be an altar located in PC 23.

View of Trench PC 23 from the southeast.

In the two western loci a number of other interesting things are going on. We have now removed the rubble packing associated with the large outcroppings of bedrock and discovered that the packing is man made. That is, it served as a preparation course for the floor of our Phase I occupation level. Once we had removed the packing we discovered a number of pot sherds that will hopefully be able to provide a date for the construction of our Phase I structure. In the same area, we removed a large molded block from the Phase I building and deposited it in the maggazino for further study. Once we had removed the incredibly heavy block it became possible to work in the area of the fissure. Here Marty worked to remove a number of significant finds. She recovered a Phase I mudbrick and a pan tile of similar date. From the same context she was able to extract a number of pieces of diagnostic bucchero pottery.

Large worked block of Feature 13 in situ in Trench PC 23 (at center of photograph).


Worked block in Feature 13 of Trench PC 23.


Brad Schneider and Robert Vander Poppen removing block from PC 23.


Marty Reichert digging in the fissure after removal of the large block shown above.

Hopefully the next few days will allow us to answer our remaining questions about PC 23. We will spend most of the week pushing to reach a suitable concluding point for the trench. Once we have reached that point we will draw the trench in order to document our progress for the year under the watchful supervision of Dr. Michael Thomas.

Robert Vander Poppen drawing in his field notebook.


Sarah McCrory taking a pass in PC 23 in an archaeological yoga posture.


Olivia Spradlin in PC 23.


Victoria Mead excavating east of the fissure in PC 23.


Left: Robert Vander Poppen and Brad Schneider before removing the block. Right: The Dynamic Duo,
The Two Robs - Belanger and Vander Poppen take a giant pass in PC 23 during student cookie break.


Left to right, standing on their dirt pile, Olivia Spradlin, Victoria Mead,
Sarah McCrory, Robert Vander Poppen, Jon Mort, and Martha Reichert.


Martha "Marty Pants" Reichert and Robert Vander Poppen doing their dance.


Week 7:

Overview of Trenches PC 23 and 25 (at left) from the east.

We began this season with a number of goals for PC 23 and 25. During the course of the season we were able to achieve some of these goals, but in other cases, new information and complexities within the trenches slowed up excavation. We had hoped to complete excavation within PC 23 this season. This we were unable to accomplish. We have been able to complete excavation in Locus 1 and Locus 4. In addition, Locus 2 has been excavated down to the top of sterile soil. We still have further work in the remaining areas of the trench.

View of Trenches PC 23 and 25 (upper right) from the west.

Two features of the trench this season have occupied the majority of our time. In the beginning of July we first encountered a line of rubble extending to the south and east. This feature was incredibly suggestive due to its shape and its orientation, which is according to the cardinal directions rather than the edges of the plateau. We spent most of this season working to clear down the stratigraphy on either side of the feature in the belief that the rubble represented a light structure such as a hut or small room. After much careful excavation we determined that the rubble is not actually part of any structure since we were unable to find any associated floor level. This type of feature represents one of the perils of careful excavation. We have spent most of the season working slowly through the stratigraphy surrounding the rubble only to discover that the rubble was nothing. Throughout much of the season we had worked to preserve this feature and define its limits in the case that it might be a significant piece of architecture. We have now decided that next season we will remove this rubble in order to get a better glimpse of the stratigraphy and see the other pieces of the trench in plan view.

East end of Trench PC 23 as seen from the southwest.


East end of Trench PC 23 as seen from the north.

The second feature of the trench that we have worked extensively on this season is the ancient pit into which a group of clandestine excavators penetrated in 2001. Over the past three seasons we have worked to excavate through this feature believing it to be a large pit. Over the course of this season we were able to determine a number of important pieces of information about this feature. We began to notice that the mix of materials within the feature was extremely disparate in date. Materials from as early as 675 B.C. and as late as 230 B.C. have come from the area. This leads me to believe that the feature is a pit of material gathered from elsewhere and used as a fill to construct the floor of the 3rd Phase Building atop the hill. In addition, we have now noticed that the feature continues deep into PC 17 and PC 25. It is now clear that the feature is not actually a pit, but instead a stratum of material gathered during the construction episode.

Above and below: views of Trench PC 23 from the south.

The western end of the trench saw activity almost as early as soil began to be accumulated. Throughout the rest of the trench we have discovered that the soil in some of the deepest portions of the trench may correspond to the strata associated with the deeper layers of PC 20. This discovery should help to piece together the history of the Archaic layers of the site. I would like to conclude by thanking the excavators of PC 23 and 25 without whom this seasons excavation would have been impossible. Martha, Sarah, Jon, Tori and Olivia have all done an excellent job in carrying on the legacy of Trench 23.

Olivia Spradlin, Robert Vander Poppen, and Martha Reichert make final drawings.


Robert Vander Poppen, Jess Galloway, and Marty Reichert clean PC 23 for final photos.


Olivia Spradlin cleaning trench perimeter for final photos.


Aaron Bartels and Martha Reichert drawing PC 23 scarp.


Robert Vander Poppen giving the final tour of Trenches PC 23 (foreground) and 25 (left).


North scarp of Trench PC 23.


West end of Trench PC 23 as seen from the north.


View of Trench PC 23 from the east.


Survey plan of Trench PC 23 (prior to addition of hand drawn details).


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