FIELD MANUAL: Introduction to Field Work Techniques
By Greg Warden and Michael Thomas
Edited by Jess Galloway

"We are not here to find things, we are here to find out about things."


The Trench Supervisor will keep a trench notebook that serves as a combination journal/laboratory record. All essential information must be included in the trench notebook that, by law, must remain in Italy (in the excavation archives) and eventually be turned over to the Archaeological Soprintendenza on completion of the excavation. Field School students contribute to this process by helping to fill out the "Context Record Form," which is intended to supplement the information in the trench notebook.

There are several terms that are common to the field of archaeology and our site in particular. It would be helpful to review a few of these at this point, so that you will better understand the discussions that follow.


Trench: a vertical cut in the earth used to reveal a vertical dimension of archaeological data and to explore a horizontal dimension along one axis. Under ideal conditions, a trench will be aligned with the survey grid of the site. Alas, at Poggio Colla we have less than ideal conditions: our site is heavily wooded and we are, by law, not allowed to damage the chestnut trees that cover the top of the hill. Our trenches may not always adhere to the grid system

Locus: (pl. loci) a sub-unit or division of a trench, sometimes defined by features found in a trench.

Stratum (pl. strata): the definable layers of an archaeological matrix or features revealed by excavation. The stratum is always the dominant factor. Stratification is the presence of multiple strata, caused by the layering of the soil, as a result of both natural and human activities. Strata are formed by changes in character of the material being deposited or in the conditions of deposition. Stratigraphy is the study of the sequential and chronological relationship of strata. A stratum normally represents a discrete cultural context or event.

Level: an arbitrary horizontal cut (usually about ten centimeters) taken through a stratum.

Feature: anything created or caused by human action; a non-portable artifact, not normally recoverable from its matrix without destroying its integrity.

Artifact: an object whose characteristics result from human activity.

Ecofact: natural rather than human-made evidence that may have cultural relevance. This category includes inorganic remains (rocks, soils, etc.) and organic (derived from living remains, for instance floral or faunal remains).


Archaeology is by its nature a destructive process. Even though archaeologists may be the only professionals working in the ancient world who consistently produce new primary source material, they also inevitably destroy the context of this material by excavating it. No matter how careful the archaeologist, some information will be lost. It is the duty of every archaeologist to minimize this loss. Excavation notebooks must be written in ink and observations must be detailed and timely. The trench supervisor should explain the reasons why choices are made as well as the theories prevalent at the time of excavation. Those theories and assumptions will change; some may turn out to be wrong, but the point of an excavation notebook is not to show how "good" or correct the excavator is, but to record accurately and carefully the archaeological context and the methodology of the excavation. In fact, an excavation notebook in which every assumption turns out to be correct or interpretations do not change as new evidence appears, is suspicious.

Our first objective is to recreate the spatial and cultural context of the artifacts we excavate. To begin excavation each season, several trenches area laid out both on Poggio Colla and in the Podere Funghi, our two areas of excavation. The location for these trenches is determined before the season begins based on the needs of the excavation and the results of previous years work. It is not uncommon to have to make adjustments to trench location due to unforeseen circumstances, for example when a clandestini pit was found at the beginning of the 2001 season. While the directors and trench supervisors lay out the trenches the rest of the field crew clears the site and sets up equipment. Once trench layout is complete the excavation can begin.

Excavation is simply the systematic removal of earth from the area of study, the trench. Earth is removed in levels; typically 10 cm passes across the trench or locus under study. As excavation progresses the levels will eventually pass through various deposition layers or strata. With the discovery of a new stratum the level is terminated and levels (elevations) are taken to record the exact vertical location of the top of the new stratum. It is the study of these strata that we call stratigraphy. It is also in these strata that the history of the site is revealed to us.

As objects are come down upon (discovered) they are removed from their context, but not before they are located, either through the use of triangulation or the Total Station. Typically they are also photographed in situ. Finally, the surrounding earth is checked for color using a Munsell color chart (a standardized color comparison system). It is with this information stratigraphy, survey, photography and color - that comparisons throughout the trench and across the site can be made.


The actual act of excavation (digging) can be carried out in a wide variety of ways, from the use of a miners pick to that of a dental pick. The excavator must always be sensitive to what lies below the surface when using any tool. It is the objects not yet seen that we wish to preserve. At Poggio Colla the primary tools for excavation are the hand pick and the trowel (typically a 4 ½" or 5" bricklayer's pointing trowel). Additionally, dental picks and small wooden potter's tools are used for removal of delicate artifacts.

The trench supervisors will instruct you in the use of these tools so that each excavator can be as efficient as possible while still minimizing any damage to artifacts as they are discovered. It is important to realize excavating is a skill one must master, so be patient.

As careful as one might be, objects will still be unearthed and removed with the dirt. To assure that no objects are thrown out, all the dirt that is removed from the trench is sifted to catch our mistakes. To further help locate an object that is found in the sifter the dirt is kept separated by excavator. This allows for at least a general location to be assigned to those items found in the sifter. As an excavator it is good to know you have this safeguard, but you should not rely on it. The objective of excavation is to discover what lies in the area being excavated and to document it as it is found.

The Trench:

The trench is by definition an independent area of excavation. Each area of the site, Poggio Colla and Podere Funghi, is excavated in discrete units we call trenches. The ideal trench for our excavation is 5m x 5m or one grid square. Trenches are located to achieve certain didactic goals for the season within the overall context of the project. Each trench is assigned a number (an Arabic numeral, starting with "1" in the first season and running consecutively throughout all future seasons of the project). The trench number is preceded by the area designation. We have two area designations, PC for Poggio Colla and PF for Podere Funghi; hence a trench may be numbered PC 6 or PF 5.

The trench is the first step in establishing the spatial context for artifacts found on the site. It provides the excavator or future researcher several vital pieces of information about what was found within its boundaries. First, the trench number gives the site of excavation, either Poggio Colla or Podere Funghi. Secondly, the year or years in which the object was found can be deduced by correlating the trench number with its year(s) of excavation. Finally, it can provide site coordinates, since every trench is located within the overall site grid.

To establish this site grid location the trench is surveyed into the overall site map. Typically, the coordinates of the trench's southwest corner in relation to the permanent site grid designate a trench's location. To provide the third dimension to the spatial context, elevations must be established for the trench.

A single elevation point is established for each trench, called the Trench Elevation Datum (TED). All measurements of depth are taken from this datum or from subsidiary elevation data established in relation to the TED. The TED must be tied to the site grid and permanent site datum, both horizontally and vertically, by use of the Total Station.

All depth measurements within the trench should be recorded as meters below datum (an example would be 0.43 mbd). Typically, the TED is located in the southwest corner of the trench at ca. 0.1 meter above the surface of that corner. If the slope of the ground requires establishing a datum higher than 0.1 meter above ground level, then increments of .05 m. should be used. The location of the TED must be clearly recorded in the trench notebook. At Poggio Colla it is not unusual for the location of the datum to be modified by one of our many trees or stumps or by the topography around the trench.

The trench is often divided into smaller areas called loci. Each locus provides a more manageable work area and provides points of separation for changes in vertical elevation, i.e. one locus can be excavated to a greater depth than another locus. There are often cultural contexts in a trench that would necessitate this occurrence. One instance of this might be a trench that spans both the inside and outside of a building. The trench supervisor may choose to stop excavation of the interior locus at the building floor level while allowing the exterior locus to continue deeper down the building foundation wall. The loci of a trench may be divided within the existing grid system or, as in the example above, by the context contained within the trench boundaries.


Trenches are excavated according to their natural stratigraphy. Strata are numbered with Roman numerals. The surface layer is Stratum I. Arbitrary levels are often employed in the excavation of a stratum; these levels should not be more than 10 cm. in thickness. At no time should a level intentionally include soil from more than one stratum. The arbitrary levels are numbered with Arabic numerals. The trench supervisor will summarize the findings and nature of each level after completion of that level. This summary should be part of the trench notebook. The trench supervisor will review some of these notebook entries with the students as part of the process of learning how to analyze and synthesize archaeological data.

We will spend a lot of time discussing stratigraphy. The principles of stratigraphy are obvious and the theory seems simple, that strata are temporally sequential and that an individual stratum represents a singular phase or set of phases in the cultural evolution of a site. The stratigraphy of our site is extraordinarily complex, however, and the reading and interpretation of any stratigraphic sequence is as much an art as a science.

As we excavate we are being exposed to the stratigraphy of the trench three dimensionally. Once excavation ends for the field season we are able to examine the walls (the profile) of the trench and see a picture of the stratigraphy excavated through the field season.

Examining the artifacts contained in a stratum provides a means to date it. By dating each stratum and examining layers of destruction within the strata, the archaeologist is able to recreate the chronology of the site.

We gain a great deal of our understanding of the site's context through stratigraphy. This is what makes stratigraphy so important to recognize and understand as we excavate.


Features, like stratigraphy, provide an important part of the story of the site. Unlike artifacts, a feature will be left in situ or when remove will be destroyed. This makes it important to accurately document, through written description, drawings and photographs, a feature.

Features within a trench are recorded as soon as they are encountered. Within each trench, an Arabic numeral consecutively designates each feature. For example, the first feature recorded in trench 6 is designated Feature 6/1. If a feature extends into more than one trench, it will retain its original designation. Feature 6/1 may also appear units 7 and 8. It is still feature 6/1.

When a feature is encountered, it should be described carefully, measured, and elevations should be taken. When appropriate, a plan and a section should also be drawn. All this information should be included in the trench notebook. The kind of information that should be recorded is summarized in the "Context Record Form," included in this field manual. Occasionally these forms will also be used for pedagogical purposes, but they are not meant to be a substitute for the proper recording of information in the trench notebook. In general, the previous level clearly should be closed out. In some cases, it may be necessary to expand the unit to expose and identify this feature. The decision to expand an excavation area is made by the field director in consultation with the trench supervisor.


To recreate the spatial and cultural context of the artifacts we excavate, we use two systems: manual triangulation and a laser surveying station, called a Total Station, which pinpoints the location of every "find." Both of these systems are described in the "Survey Methods" section of this manual. The decision of what constitutes a find is made by individual trench supervisors who keep a daily list of finds in their trench notebooks. A find can be anything from an architectural element to a diagnostic artifact, a cultural or natural feature, or a soil sample. Objects that are notable or diagnostic are removed to the laboratory as finds. The survey system provides records of the three-dimensional position of finds and provides trench supervisors with a daily update of the spatial position of these finds. The database created also enables the eventual analysis of the distribution of these items across the entire site. In order for the system to be effective, trench supervisors, excavators, and survey teams must work together closely.

Our architect will oversee the setup of the survey map system. A limited number of survey stations will be established at the site. They will be positioned so as to have a clear sight line to each of the excavation units. Each morning the surveying team will place the Total Station at the primary surveying point (PSP), complete the initial station set-up, and verify that the set-up is correct. When the set-up is finished, the surveying team will notify each trench supervisor that they are prepared to collect data. Surveyors use their initials, the current date (in mm-dd-yy format), and an alpha character for the daily session indicator as the name of the data file. For example, if Jess Galloway is the survey supervisor on our first day of excavation, June 17, the first data file will be named JG6-21-99. At the end of each day, surveyors will transfer the data from the data collector to the excavation house computer. Following review of the data and any corrections or adjustments necessary, the surveyor will then be able to print for each trench supervisor a map of the day's work.

This may sound rather complicated at first, but it will become second nature to us as the excavation progresses. The evening printout will allow each excavation team to keep abreast of what is happening in their trench. We expect each of the groups to function as a team, to work together and to remain aware of the context and importance of what is happening in the trench. If you are enrolled for undergraduate credit in the Field School, you will be asked at the end of the season to write up a group of finds, to illustrate, catalogue, and interpret them as if you were presenting those finds and their context for publication. That means that you will have to explain the significance of those finds in the greater cultural context of the site and region. You will only be able to do so successfully if you have been aware of the entire excavation process.

No matter how carefully we excavate and record finds the final result is only going to be as good as our analytical processes. The first step in this process is our database, the choices that we make in the recognition and classification of material from the site. The survey system has pre-established classes and sub-classes; this system has been modified for the unique needs and challenges of our site and region. The classes and sub-classes are as follows:

Class Sub-class

Worked Block
Architectural terracotta
Mud brick

ARTIFACT Clay-bucchero


Temporary benchmark

Other sub-classes may be defined in the field.

These classes and sub-classes allow us the ability to uniquely identify every piece of information collected throughout the season and across all the many seasons we will work at Poggio Colla. The information collected in our database (and onto the site map) and that recorded in the field notebooks, along with the artifacts discovered, represent the history of the previous occupants of Poggio Colla, as we know it. Eventually some of the excavated objects become finds and are included in the catalogue (which will be discussed later) for the excavation.

It is through the study of these objects and the data associated with them that we are able to establish the chronology of the site as well as the sites relationship to the rest of Etruria. It is not only the objects themselves that are important to our understanding but also the context in which they exist. The site survey map records and locates the totality of the objects and features.

Survey Methods:

The purpose of survey is to locate points three dimensionally and then use these locations to perform various comparative analyses. Some of the products of the analysis are artifact distribution maps, topographic maps, three-dimensional models, and building plans. Survey is also used to link various areas of the excavation to one another; an example is the Arx (the top of the Poggio Colla hill) with the Podere Funghi, two areas separated by one half of a kilometer. Two methods of survey are used in the field: manual and land.

Manual survey is a method for locating points within a small area and is carried out with simple tools, i.e. a string, a string level and tape measures. This simple survey technique is used in the trench to locate diagnostic artifacts, architectural elements, soil samples, and cultural or natural features. This method is made up of two components: triangulation and levels (see definitions for these two techniques below in the definitions section of this document). Levels are also used to describe the finished plane of each pass through a locus in a trench.

Triangulation and levels are standard archaeological practices that all field students should learn. These two methods provide a means to locate points in the trench in terms of a known datum (see definitions below). With this information a researcher can compare the relative location of all the finds in any given trench. The disadvantage of this method is that finds across the site cannot have their relative positions compared without first plotting out all the individual trench information on an overall site map. To more easily accomplish the task of comparative analysis between trenches we use standard land survey practices.

Modern land survey is carried out with one primary instrument, the "Total Station." We use a Topcon 211 total station. The total station is a Theodolite (a modern transit) with an integral EDM (electronic distance meter) and a small computer. The Theodolite measures both vertical and horizontal angles and the EDM measures the distance from the Theodolite to the point being surveyed. Simply put, a Theodolite is nothing more than a high powered telescope that can rotate about both its vertical and horizontal axes and the EDM is typically a low powered laser that is fired at a reflective prism located at the point being measured. The computer records the angles and distance measured and displays them on a small LCD screen that is part of the Total Station.

We connect a specialized handheld computer, called a Data Collector, to the total station to facilitate the recording of information. The data collector receives the angles and distance measured from the total station and from this calculates the NEZ coordinates (see definitions below) of the point being measured. This information provides a spatial context to every point surveyed. The data collector also allows the survey team to input other pertinent data (trench number, point type, find material, etc.) associated with any given point. This information provides a cultural context to every point surveyed. Once the information is collected and stored in the data collector it can be transferred to one of the dig computers where it can be processed further. Although this may not be clear to you at this time, once you see survey carried out in the field, the above descriptions will begin to make more sense.

One of the primary objectives of using the total station is to accomplish the same task that triangulation and levels accomplish, i.e. to spatially locate diagnostic artifacts, architectural elements, etc. The use of the total station allows all surveyed points to be instantly referenced to one another across the entire site instead of only within an individual trench. This system of survey provides a means to quickly map the entire area of excavation: producing plans and topographic maps, showing artifact distribution and to tie field survey and archaeotopographic survey to the main excavation areas.

In order to accurately locate the survey data and to assure its reproducibility we use two special points, called benchmarks and temporary benchmarks (see definitions below). Each season we begin surveying at one of several benchmarks on the site, either one of the three on Poggio Colla or one of the two in the Podere Funghi. From these points several temporary benchmarks are established, often called primary survey points (PSP). Each PSP is established to give a clear line of sight to the trenches. When any area of the excavation is surveyed, the total station is set up on a PSP. This allows survey to occur from a known point.

The Italians who previously excavated the site from 1968 to 1972 originally established the three benchmarks on Poggio Colla. These benchmarks define the five-meter grid that is still in use on the site today.

Another advantage of survey using the total station is the ability to produce and print maps of each trench or even the entire site as excavation progresses throughout the season. These maps provide quick information to field supervisors and relieve them of the need to triangulate architectural features. We still use triangulation for finds since there are times when the survey crew is off in another area of the excavation. Standard triangulation and level data can be entered manually into the computer model along with the electronic data collected.

We use several computer programs to record and manipulate the data collected in the field. A program called Cogocad is used to download data from the data collector, to review its accuracy, to make corrections of errors noted in the field and to transfer the data into Autocad. Autocad R14 is used to create all the maps and models from the survey data. Each day the data is downloaded and a daily map of the data made. The daily maps are assembled into a composite plan of the season and the season composite plans assembled into the final state plan. Eventually the survey data is also incorporated into the catalogue database.

In order for this system to function it requires cooperation between the survey team and each of the trench supervisors. The trench supervisors must inform the survey team in a timely manner of any survey task to be completed in their trenches. This will allow the survey team to schedule their work in a way that provides maximum benefit to the entire excavation. In a like manner the survey team needs to report coordinates for points shot in any trench to the trench supervisor so they may be recorded in the trench book and on finds tags in a timely manner. Additionally, the survey team should provide the trench supervisors with regular printouts of the maps of their trenches.

The accurate recording of all information, including survey data, will allow for an accurate recreation and assessment of a site that is undergoing the destructive process we call excavation.

Survey Definitions:

Coordinate System: The site uses an NEZ coordinate system. N is the North/South coordinate, or Northing. E is the East/West coordinate, or Easting. Z is the elevation coordinate and is measured from mean sea level.

Benchmark: A permanent marker point used to establish a set location. Examples of benchmarks include the 3 concrete monuments on Poggio Colla. The primary benchmark for the excavation is BM1 and has NEZ coordinates of 1000 m, 1000 m, 390 m. The northing and easting are arbitrary, chosen to keep all N and E coordinates as positive numbers. The elevation (Z) coordinate is measured from mean sea level. The elevation is always shot to the top of the benchmark.

Temporary Benchmark: A temporary point serves as a benchmark but is only used for a season of excavation. The elevation is always shot to the top of the stake.

Elevation Point: A point surveyed to measure only elevation and not N or E coordinates. The elevation is usually shot to grade and is not marked by any permanent or temporary point.

Datum: A special type of elevation point set for each trench, often referred to as the Trench Elevation Datum (TED). The datum point is used in the taking of levels in the trench and allows all levels to be tied into the overall site coordinate system. The datum is a stake set outside of each trench and the elevation is shot to the top of the stake.

Station Point: A station point marks a contextual event such as a Grid Point or Traverse Point. The elevation is always shot to the top of the stake.

Trench Corner: The corner of each trench is set with a stake. The N and E coordinates of the stake are shot in and the elevation of grade at the stake is established.

Triangulation: Triangulation is a method for locating a point in space by measuring the distance from two known points. The point being measured forms the third point of a triangle, hence the name.

Levels: Taking levels is the method used to locate the relative elevation of a triangulated point (or any other point for that matter). The method for taking levels is to pull a string tight and level from the top of the TED and measure the vertical distance from the string to the point. The string is set level by means of a device known as a string level, a small bubble level that is be attached to the string (the string level should always be placed halfway between the datum and the person measuring).

Record Keeping:

Accurate and complete records must be kept for all trenches. The excavators are the first persons in thousands of years to see the soils, features, and artifacts in a trench. The excavators are also the last persons to see these materials together. Reliable record keeping and observation of every step of the process are the only means of saving this data for later analysis and interpretation. The four types of information resulting from the initial process of excavation are the trench notebook, standardized forms, photographs, and scale drawings. The trench notebook has been discussed above. It must include all data (levels, drawing, color designations, find numbers, etc.) and narrative description based on observation. It is important to know what the excavators saw and thought at the time of excavation, even if these observations turn out to be off base later on. This is why we require that the notebook be written in ink, so that observations cannot be changed.


In the field, a scale plan of each unit should be drawn whenever it becomes important to document the horizontal relationship of elements within the unit. The plan should include a scale, date, elevations, and a north arrow. Feature numbers should also be noted. Profiles or section drawings of the unit walls document the vertical relationships of strata and features. These profiles are crucial for the stratigraphic interpretation of each unit. Profile drawings should be done of all four (or more) walls of each unit. The TED should be used, when possible, for the level line of the profile. All strata should be marked on the drawing; features should also be clearly labeled. Soil descriptions should be included in the key.


Black and white photographs should be taken at each change in level, for each new feature, and when any significant finds are encountered. Color film is used for general documentation or as appropriate. Documentary photography is done in 35mm format. We also use a medium-format camera (645) in special instances, such as for general unit photographs where better resolution is helpful. A large format camera (4x5) with Polaroid capability is used for special documentation. We also use 35mm and digital photography to create Quick-Time Virtual Reality reconstructions of the excavations as we proceed. We use Video to record the general pace of excavation and to provide more three-dimensional documentation of certain aspects of excavation. Much of this information is made available on our web site, which is updated on a weekly basis by our information technologist. We also have a digital camera and a Canon Optura digital still/video recorder, which will be used for quick documentation and to create images that can be placed on the Internet.



The following forms are used to record information about specimens or samples:

Specimen Tag: Any artifact or material brought down from the site must have one of these tags. The artifact can always be referenced back to its original find location with the information on this tag. The tag contains the following information: tag number (made up of site, trench number, locus, stratum, level), feature number (if applicable), triangulation information, date, find number (the date plus a sequential Arabic numeral), site coordinates (if shot in with the Total Station), contents (a brief description), the trench supervisor's initials, and the trench notebook page number where the artifact is referenced. The upper right corner of the tag is reserved for a catalogue number, if one is assigned. The backside of the tag must remain blank for use by the conservation lab.

The Context Record Form includes information on general trench data, material collections (including soil and carbon), soil matrix/excavation methods, visual records, features and a place for a plan drawing. This form is not intended as a substitute for proper record keeping in the trench notebook. Although Trench Supervisors will include in their notebooks all relevant information, this form serves as an additional record and as an alternate method of examining field data.

The Tile Count Form is used to record roofing tile that is deemed large enough to send to storage, although not good enough to be labeled as a find. These tiles are bagged, given a bag number, counted, weighed and the location in the trench noted. Much of the roofing tile from the site does not warrant bagging or being classified a find, this tile is simply measured and recorded in the trench notebook. It is then placed on the tile dump that is on site.

The Sherd Count Form is used to record the many potsherds that do not warrant being classified as finds. These sherds still must be recorded and sent to storage. The sherds are bagged, given a bag number, classified by type (body, rim, neck, handle, base or other), the number in any given level noted and the location in the trench also noted. Often the sherds are separated by fabric type and this is also recorded on the form. This method of sorting proves useful for any researcher who is studying a ceramic fabric on the site.

The Bag List is simply a compilation of all the bags from a given trench from any one season. From this list a quick overview of material found, beyond finds, can be ascertained.

Finally, there is the Photo Log. This log records every picture taken for every camera and every roll of film on site throughout the field season. We take literally thousands of photographs each year and without this log we would not be able to match each photograph with its location, date and purpose.

All these forms are critical for proper documentation on the site. And since ours is a destructive process, documentation is truly essential in assuring a successful excavation.


The processing and analysis of all material recovered from survey and excavation takes place in the field laboratory. Artifacts are usually processed in four consecutive stages, however the fragility or significance of the object will sometimes require one of the following stages to take precedence over the others: inventory, conservation, cataloguing and storage.

Every morning the cataloguer begins by taking an inventory of all the material brought down from the site the previous day. Typically, this material has either been designated as a find by the trench supervisor or grouped by its fabric (black glaze, bucchero, fine ware, coarse ware, impasto, etc.) into sherd bags. The sherd bags will be inventoried in the most basic of ways, where their contents are counted and recorded. Sherd Count Forms, Tile Count Forms, and Bag List, are the responsibility of the trench supervisors, however the cataloguer does document the acquisition of the material by the lab. Finds are inventoried in a more detailed manner. They are first recorded into the Find Index (which requires the following information: Trench Number, Date, Find Number, Description and Notebook Page). Next, they are visually inspected by the cataloguer to determine which artifacts should be catalogued and which should remain non-catalogued objects; often the conservator and site director aid in this process.

Once an artifact has been designated for catalogue status it is assigned a catalogue number. The catalogue number, which consists of the last two digits of the excavation year followed by a consecutive Arabic number, is then recorded on the Find Tag and in the Find Index (e.g. the first find of the 2002 season will be 02-001). It is then sent to conservation for treatment.

Conservation involves the cleaning, repair, consolidation, and preservation of material remains. The conservation lab follows two basic principles: to handle an object as carefully and as minimally as possible and to practice the principle of reversibility. The latter is especially important, for it insures that any treatment applied to an object is reversible at a later date with no resulting damage or change to the object.

After receiving proper conservation treatments, an artifact selected for cataloguing is returned to the cataloguer. It is at this point that the object is entered into the excavation database where it will be described in detail. The cataloguer records the artifact's material, detailed measurements, and a precise description. The Poggio Colla catalogue provides more than descriptive information on an object; it also records the provenance of the artifact, references to the trench notebook, negative and drawing numbers, and information concerning storage. In addition, digital photographs supplement the entry.

Once the catalogue entry is complete, the object is documented with both digital and black and white photography and technical illustrations, and then prepared for storage. Storage preparation includes the marking of the catalogue number on the object in permanent ink, placing the artifact and find tag into an archival bag, and then assigning the object to an appropriate box. Boxes are grouped first by excavation year and then by material fabric. Storage completes the basic sequence of artifact processing.


As a participant in this project and a field school student, you have a certain obligation to work according to the ethical standards set by the Society of Professional Archaeology. The respect we show to the site and the community we work in is an important part of our involvement in this project. Each field school participant is expected to review and abide by the code of ethics, the guidelines and standards included in the Appendix of this manual.

Introduction and Course Requirements

Introduction to Field Work Techniques

Etruscan Chronology

Field School Graduate Readings