FIELD MANUAL: Introduction to the Season
By Greg Warden and Michael Thomas
Edited by Jess Galloway

Welcome to the Field School of the Southern Methodist University-University of Pennsylvania Museum excavations at Poggio Colla. We hope that this manual will explain the way that our project works, introduce you to our research goals for the coming season, and give you a sense of what to expect this summer. The goal of the Field School is twofold, to excavate properly a very important Etruscan site and to educate the Field School participants in archaeological method and Etruscan archaeology.

If you have not participated in an archaeological project before, we recommend that you look at the course texts on archaeological method, Hester, T.R., Shafer, H.J. and Feder, K.L. 1997. Field Methods in Archaeology. 7th ed. Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing Company. You should familiarize yourself with archaeological technique and theory. Then, having done that, remember that the main criterion for successful archaeological fieldwork is flexibility. Every site is different, and techniques need to be adapted to the requirements (topographical, environmental, historical, legal, cultural, even budgetary) of that individual site. Our excavation is only eight years old, and we plan to excavate at Poggio Colla for a long time. The excavation staff is in the process of developing and refining a set of methods and techniques that fit our unique situation and research goals, and we do appreciate your input at the end of the summer, both about the excavation and the Field School.

An archaeological excavation can be both an exhilarating and frustrating experience. There will always be some stress, for we are engaged in an important project, an excavation that promises to have great impact on the field. If we are to be successful as an excavation and an educational experience, it is imperative that we work together. Even the best-planned systems will break down if we do not have teamwork and cooperation. Our excavation does have hierarchies, but these are hierarchies of responsibility, and these hierarchies must not get in the way of the kind of communication that is necessary for successful research. We encourage you to get to know all the staff, to keep us abreast of how the summer is going, to ask questions when things are not clear, to participate in any way that you can. It is important to remember that you are an integral member of our excavation team. Even if you are not an experienced excavator, your observations and opinions, your concentration and dedication, are vital to this project.

"Anyone who has never gotten carried away should be carried away."

Course Requirements for the Field School

We believe that the Poggio Colla Field School offers one of the best opportunities to learn the process and theory of archaeological excavation. This program also introduces the student to the cultural history of the Etruscans. Every year we modify the field school, often as a result of student feedback, with the hopes of improving the didactic aspects of our program. At the same time, this is a real excavation that must conform to the limits of budget and time. Therefore as a field student, you must first and foremost be a participant of this project, and as mandated by archaeological codes of ethics, the excavation is the number one priority.

Your grade will be based on three criteria:

1. A daily excavation journal: You will need a small field book for this. We suggest either a 6 ½"x 8 ½" or 5"x7" with metric grid graph paper. You can order one from either Ben Meadows at (order the Metric Cross Section Book, 6 ½"x 8 ½", Item #101532) or Forestry Suppliers at (order the "Rite in the Rain" metric field book, #360, bound, Item #49322 or #360F, spiral, Item #49494). This journal should summarize your archaeological work and you should discuss this journal once a week with your Field Supervisor.

2. Performance and attendance: Your attendance at both the lectures and daily fieldwork is required and it is critical to your learning experience and to the success of the field season. Fieldwork will be made up of excavation, laboratory, pottery washing and processing and survey experience. Your daily fieldwork schedule can vary by the demands of the excavation and your Trench Supervisors needs.

3. Final project: During the first few weeks of the program you will be assigned a project which will simulate the kind of observation and analysis that is a normal part of the process of archaeological explication and publication. The point of the project is to present and explicate material remains in their cultural/archaeological context. The project description is included in the appendices to this manual. It is listed as 2002 Field School Assignment. The project is due September 1. It should be mailed or delivered to: Greg Warden, Art History, OFAC 1630, SMU, Dallas TX 75275.

Course textbooks:
Barker, Graeme & Tom Rasmussen, The Etruscans Blackwell, Oxford, 1998.

Hester, T.R., H.J. Shafer and K.L. Feder, Field Methods in Archaeology. 7th Edition. Mountain View: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1997.

Overview of the Excavation Project

The Poggio Colla Field School is part of a long-term project, which centers on Poggio Colla, a site in the Mugello, near the modern town of Vicchio, about twenty-miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Florence. The site seems to have been inhabited by the Etruscans at least as early as the seventh century and was abandoned or destroyed in the early second century BCE.

As you will find out during this course, excavation of Etruscan habitation sites has been rare, although in the past few decades some important habitation sites (for instance Murlo and Acquarossa, to cite the most famous examples, but the list is growing longer) have increased our knowledge of Etruscan life substantially. Still, the Etruscans are known primarily from funerary remains, and much of our knowledge of the Etruscans comes from the wealthy southern centers, Veii, Care, and Tarquinia. One of the problems is that the Etruscans chose their sites so well that the major centers were repeatedly built upon in the Medieval and later periods. We know where the Etruscans had their major cities, places like Volterra, Orvieto, Cortona, and Fiesole, but these sites are covered over with modern towns or cities and are therefore almost impossible to excavate. Poggio Colla thus offers us an exceptional opportunity, to excavate and study an important Etruscan settlement, and to do so with up-to-date methods and technologies. The site of Poggio Colla should prove singularly important for the information it will provide about Etruscan urbanization, architecture, and daily life. Of further importance is the archaeological topography of the Mugello basin, a region at the edge of the Apennines at the northeastern periphery of Etruscan territory. This area is little known archaeologically but could provide important information about Etruscan connections and trade routes with their Italic neighbors to the north and along the Adriatic coast to the east.

A long-term goal of our project is an interdisciplinary regional landscape analysis of the area around Poggio Colla. Through the integrated use of geomorphology, archaeology (both survey and excavation), and history we hope to create a kind of landscape archaeology for the region.

The first seasons of excavation focused on the very top of the hill, the plateau known as Poggio Colla, where we found the remains of impressive (and possibly early!) monumental architecture. Our results are presented in an a series of short articles in Etruscan Studies (the 1998 and 1999 reports are included in this manual) and in a longer article, co-authored by Greg Warden, Michael Thomas and Jess Galloway, which appeared in the 1999 issue of the Journal of Roman Archaeology (also reproduced for you in this manual).

Part of the mission of our project is pedagogical. If archaeology is to survive as a discipline in this new century, it will have to develop a broader base of support and will have to change its image from an elite and esoteric discipline understood by only a chosen few. Archaeological sites are endangered by pollution, construction, and human pressures that run the gamut from neglect to outright vandalism. We hope that over the years, through our field school, we will train a large number of individuals, some of whom may go on to become professional archaeologists, but most of whom, no matter what their career, will become advocates of cultural and archaeological preservation. We also hope to make our site (and our cause) known to a greater public through the use of the Internet, CD-ROMs, and an outreach program in the United States and Italy. Every year we try to publish an annual report that is deliberately un-scholarly, without footnotes or jargon, and in recent years that report has been translated into Italian by the Comune di Vicchio. Our project happens to be an international one; we don't want to be perceived as an "American" excavation. We work together with Italian researchers, and we value the support of our many Italian friends. In the Mugello and the surrounding areas an important goal is to work with local advocates to make the people of the region of Florence understand what an exceptional resource lies at their feet.

Staff Hierarchy

Although those of us who have been with the excavation for some time have an understanding of the organization of the excavation, it is not always so apparent to you as an incoming field school student. The Directors, Doctors Greg Warden and Michael Thomas, are ultimately the people the Soprintendenza of the Region of Tuscany holds responsible for our work and our actions at Poggio Colla.

Prof. Warden takes responsibility for the workshops (magazzino) where all the materials we excavate are processed, including conservation, photography, illustration and cataloguing. The conservators clean and restore the artifacts and when needed conserve and excavate artifacts in situ. Once an artifact is conserved the cataloguer, who must decide if it is to remain a find or become a catalogued object, processes it. Those items that are catalogued are then photographed and illustrated. Finally, all finds, whether catalogued or not, are placed in storage. Although the staff in the magazzino are not always visible to those of us at the site they are an important and integral part of the team. They are often consulted on technical issues as it relates to the work in the magazzino.

Dr. Thomas takes responsibility for all fieldwork. It is his job to schedule daily tasks and transportation. He provides guidance to the trench supervisors, assuring that they all understand and work towards the goals we have set for the season. He also coordinates the work of the survey crews and various research staff. The trench supervisors are the staff members with whom you as field school students will have the most contact. The trench supervisors will organize the work for their individual trenches and give you direction. It is their responsibility to provide training in field techniques, to answer your questions and to review your daily excavation journal. Typically, each trench will also have an assistant trench supervisor, whose responsibility it is to assist with the daily tasks necessary to carry out and document an excavation.

The architect and survey consultant carry out various types of land and archaeological survey. They coordinate their work with Dr. Thomas and provide support for the trench supervisors in the location of artifacts and mapping of the site and its architectural elements. Also present on the site will be various geophysicist, geologists and visiting scholars who assist the excavation in a wide variety of ways.

An additional member of the operations staff is our information technologist, whose job it is to oversee the excavation website, which is updated weekly. The information technologist works with Doctors Warden and Thomas to provide a website that evolves with the unfolding of the excavation. Students, trench supervisors and various staff members provide written information to give a glimpse into daily excavation life.

Finally, there are two staff members who are critical to our daily lives. They are the operations manager and the house manager. The operations manager is in charge of transportation, acquisition of tools and supplies, maintenance of equipment and assisting in the daily needs of the excavation. The house manager is responsible for the daily function of the main excavation house, scheduling of chores (students share the responsibility for clean up after meals, preparation of breakfast and lunch and generally keeping the excavation house neat), food shopping and assisting with the organization of all the other excavation houses. Both the operations and house managers coordinate their work with Professors Warden and Thomas to help assure all the daily needs of the excavation are met.


Saturday, June 15: Group arrives
Sunday, June 16: Orientation
Monday, June 17: Excavation
Tuesday, June 18: Excavation
Wednesday, June 19: Excavation
Thursday, June 20: Excavation
Friday, June 21: Excavation
Saturday, June 22: Free day
Sunday, June 23: Free day

Monday, June 24: Excavation
Tuesday, June 25: Excavation
Wednesday, June 26: Excavation
Thursday, June 27: Excavation
Friday, June 28: Excavation
Saturday, June 29: Free day, optional excursion to Florence & Fiesole.
Sunday, June 30: Free day

Monday, July 1: Excavation
Tuesday, July 2: Excavation
Wednesday, July 3: Excavation
Thursday, July 4: Excavation
Friday, July 5: Free day
Saturday, July 6: Free day
Sunday, July 7: Free day

Monday, July 8: Free day
Tuesday, July 9: Excavation
Wednesday, July 10: Excavation
Thursday, July 11: Excavation
Friday, July 12: Excavation
Saturday, July 13: Free day
Sunday, July 14: Free day

Monday, July 15: Excavation
Tuesday, July 16: Excavation
Wednesday, July 17: Excavation
Thursday, July 18: Excavation
Friday, July 19: Excavation
Saturday, July 20: Free day
Sunday, July 21: Free day

Monday, July 22: Excavation
Tuesday, July 23: Excavation
Wednesday, July 24: Excavation
Thursday, July 25: Excavation
Friday, July 26: Excavation
Saturday, July 27: Free day
Sunday, July 28: Free day

Monday, July 29: Excavation
Tuesday, July 30: Excavation - Back Fill
Wednesday, July 31: Excavation - Back Fill
Thursday, August 1: Departure day - After 3:00pm
Friday, August 2: Site closes


The average excavation day, on the hill, is from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm with a 45-minute lunch break. As the season progresses there will be additional time spent, after excavation, processing pottery for transfer to the conservation lab. This typically takes from ½ hour to 1 hour. It is important to remember that the length of time on the hill often varies from the average, since we are affected by weather, transportation and the needs or circumstances of the excavation.

Things always change at the last minute. You will quickly learn that circumstance and the environment go a long way in adjusting our schedule; as such all of us, staff and students alike, need to remain flexible in our attitude towards excavation life. It will soon become clear the schedules of both the lecturers and/or the excavation itself will dictate rearrangement, rescheduling and cancellation of some lectures.

Introduction and Course Requirements

Introduction to Field Work Techniques

Etruscan Chronology

Field School Graduate Readings