2005 TRENCH PC 23 & PC 15
Robert Vander Poppen, Field Supervisor
Jeff Edwards, Assistant Field Supervisor

Field Students:

Jessica Dussling

Abby Greenbaum

 Joshua Hunter

Heather Neale

Summer Roberts

Field Supervisor Robert Vander Poppen.

Assistant Field Supervisor Jeff Edwards.

Opening Report - Week 2:

This season will represent the fifth for PC 23. The trench was originally laid out in an attempt to regain the context destroyed by an intrusion made by a group of clandestini. Although the original research plan for the site did not call for excavation within the foundations of the monumental building atop Poggio Colla until a much later date. The intrusive actions of the clandestini forced us to begin to explore the interior stratigraphy of the building. As a result of the already deep excavation that has taken place over the past three seasons, we have learned a great deal about the construction sequence of the building and the early history of the site. Unfortunately, when excavation ceased at the end of last season, we remained convinced that Trench PC 23 had more to tell us from another season of excavation.

View of Trench PC 23 from the west at the end of the 2004 field season.

This year the plan for PC 23 is to complete the excavation of this square by focusing on the area of the large votive pit encountered in past years (Feature 3) and to continue to refine its stratigraphic relationships with the various phases of construction. Another area that will see extensive excavation this year is the area around the large bedrock outcropping that occupies nearly all of the southwestern locus of the trench. This section of the living rock of the hill clearly played an important part in the early history of the site. It was here in a fissure in the bedrock (Feature 13) that we discovered a second votive deposit associated with the construction of the second building atop Poggio Colla. The outcropping was sealed by a moulded block from the first Phase of the site and then was covered by a preparation layer of soil brought onto the hilltop during the construction of the Phase II monumental structure. We intend to explore this area in search of any earlier depositions of a similar kind in order to test the theory that this feature of the natural landscape of Poggio Colla played an important cultic function. As a result of this focus we will open the eastern two loci of another trench from last season, PC 19, in order to begin removing the rubble packing that appears to enclose the fissure on its western edge. We will also focus our attention on the eastern portion of the trench where the least excavation has taken place. Of primary importance here is the exploration of the northeast portion of the trench where the stratigraphy may be incredibly deep. The goal for excavation in this area is to find a nodal point in the stratigraphy that will finally allow us to connect the stratigraphy of the interior of the monumental structure with the fills of the north terracing and fortification walls currently being excavated in PC 20. Our focus will also be to continue exploration of the area immediately around and below the altar stones in locus 8 in order to understand how the deposition of these blocks fits into the construction sequence.

View of Trench PC 23 from the east in 2005 Week 2.

Above and below: Jessica Dussling, Abby Greenbaum, Joshua Hunter,
Summer Roberts, and Jeff Edwards working in PC 23.

View of Trench PC 23 from the west in Week 3.


West locus of PC 23 viewed from the north in Week 3.


East locus of PC 23 viewed from the north in Week 3.


View of Trench PC 23 from the west during Week 4.


View of Trench PC 23 from the east in 2005 Week 4.


Heather Neale excavating a small find in PC 23.


Abby Greenbaum.


Summer Roberts.


Heather Neale.


Jess Dussling.


Joshua Hunter.


2005: Jess Galloway and Jess Dussling.


Week 4: Heather Neale and Summer Roberts taking a pass in PC 23.


View of Trench PC 23 from the northwest during Week 5, with Joshua Hunter at work.


View of Trench PC 23 from the west during Week 5.


Jess Dussling opening Trench PC 15 in Week 4.


Joshua Hunter completing excavation in a fissure in PC 23.

Final Report:

We have now reached the end of the 2005 campaign of excavation at Poggio Colla. This year's group of excavators has managed to do something that no previous group has been able to do. They have finished the excavation of PC 23.

View from the west of team at work in PC 23 during Week 6.

In the past couple of weeks our focus has been on the large votive pit within PC 23 where, when the inhabitants were building the third phase structure on top of Poggio Colla, deposited a large batch of material that appears to have been dedicated in an earlier phase. We have learned that the votive pit exploits a fissure in the natural bedrock of the hill where early dedications were made. This pit was made when, in the process of the construction of the third phase building, a large chunk of the soil from PC 23 was removed in order to make way for this new feature. Once the soil had been removed from the area, a lining of rocks and sandy soil was provided to make a bottom for the fissure. On top of this natural feature we discovered the remains of this votive pit that contained formless lumps of metal and also some very impressive elite pottery. We can say without ambiguity that the soil of the bronze pit was filled in all in one layer, as some sherds from the same vessels were discovered at the top and the bottom of the deposit.

Fissures and bedrock in PC 23, viewed from the north at the end of the 2005 season.


Post hole and fissure on south side of PC 23, viewed from the south at 2005 season's end.

In the northeast corner of the trench we have also done some more exploring of the deepest strata on site and discovered that there is evidence for a very early structure as seen in the impression of a posthole and the remains of the post itself. This very early structure also seems to have a floor level associated with it in this area, a soil called Stratum 6. It is likely then that the earliest buildings atop Poggio Colla were of timber construction rather than of ashlar masonry. The bucchero and the early impasto fragments from the fill of the post hole and the floor level of the structure suggest that this structure was the one that produced the material later gathered up and pushed off of the northern edge of Poggio Colla.

2005 final photo of the east end of Trench PC 23, viewed from the east (altar at left, hearth at right).


Hearth in northeast corner of Trench PC 23 at the end of the 2005 field season; view from south.

This season concludes a 5-year long journey of unexpected surprises since excavation began in this trench in 2001. As we place the backfill into PC 23 for the final time I wish to thank all of those who participated in its excavation and interpretation over the years. A special thanks goes to Gretchen Meyers who began the trench and to Josh Moran, Adrian Ossi, Martha Reichert, and Jeff Edwards who were all assistants in the trench.

View from the west of Trench PC 15 during Week 6.

Once we had finished excavation of PC 23 my team shifted its focus for the last few weeks of the season to another trench excavated in a previous season. We began the excavation of PC 15, a trench last open in 1999 under the supervision of Sarah Kupperburg. This trench is situated over the top of the north wall of the Phase II and Phase III structures. The majority of the trench contains exterior space in relation to the later buildings, but a small portion of the trench to the south of the wall allowed us also to explore the interior stratigraphy of the buildings. We began by removing the last remnants of the fill for a terracing project of the area discovered in 1999. This soil produced a large quantity of bucchero pottery and also revealed the presence of a drainage ditch for evacuating water from the center of the hill. Also of importance in this area was the excavation of a number of storage pits that were used to preserve foodstuffs in the area of PC 15 before these structures were destroyed by the later walls that occupy the trench.

View from the west of PC 15 at the end of the 2005 season.

We were also able to excavate a considerable amount of interior space from the building and confirm some of our assumptions about the chronology of the site and the links between the construction episodes of the main building and of the structures built to the north (see PC 20 for further information). In this area we discovered the destruction layer and the floor associated with the Phase III building as we expected, but were also greeted with a surprise. The dark black terracing layer found on the exterior of the building was also recovered in the interior space. This indicates that this soil is part of the construction phase of the Phase II building. All in all, we were able to piece together a narrative for the first time that linked the two areas on Poggio Colla whose architecture we understand the best. It will be important for us to come back in future seasons to explore these relationships more fully in order to confirm or refute our new assumptions, but this will have to wait for a new crew of students and another year of excavation.

View of Trenches PC 15 (foreground) and PC 20 at the end of the 2005 field season.


Robert Vander Poppen giving the Week 5 PC 23 Trench Tour.


Scarp of PC 23, perfectly maintained for 4 years by Robert Vander Poppen was washed
out in a strong rain. Left: post-rain erosion; right: scarp repaired by a 5 cm vertical pass.


Heather Neale, Official Scarp Manager, repairing rain-damaged scarp of PC 23.


Jeff Edwards perfecting scarp and Anne Hooten drawing the hearth in PC 23 during Week 6.


View of PC 23 from the north at season's end: altar (top left), hearth (bottom left), and fissure.


Final photo of PC 23 from the east in 2005 (altar in foreground).


View from the south of the east end of Trench PC 23 at 2005 season's end.


View from the south of the west end of Trench PC 23 at 2005 season's end.


North scarp (west end) of Trench PC 23 at the end of the 2005 field season.


Detail of fissure in Trench PC 23.


Jeff Edwards, Jess Dussling, and Robert Vander Poppen making final drawings of PC 23.


Jeff Edwards and Jess Dussling taking levels for final drawings.


Robert Vander Poppen and Jeff Edwards working on final drawings of PC 23 in 2005.