2005 TRENCHES PF 5E,
15, 17 & 18
Katherine Blanchard, Field Supervisor
Aaron Bartels, Assistant Field Supervisor
Field Supervisor, Katy
Assistant Field Supervisor,
Opening Report - Week
Work in the Podere Funghi
began in the 1999 season as the result of a plowing which produced
several upcroppings of concentrated material. Michael Thomas
and Greg Warden performed a walking survey after the plowing
and mapped out these areas for future excavation. The 1999 season
discovered a pottery midden-an area in which misfired and broken
pottery and tiles were discarded in high concentration. The question
then became, if the pottery is being thrown here, where were
the kilns that created them?
In the 2000 season, Trench
PF 5 was opened in an area of high tile concentration and excavation
there revealed the corner of a structure. Found within this area
was also a hearth, leading us to believe that people were living
as well as working in this area. Over the next four seasons,
we systematically expanded in all four cardinal directions, attempting
to ascertain the full extent of the building in order to understand
its usage. We discovered four kilns, and learned that the area
saw two periods of occupational use. One kiln is underneath a
wall, proving quite clearly this theory. Further, the floor packing
was composed of broken, inverted roof tile. That is, there was
a structure, which for whatever reason fell out of use, and the
tiles, no longer useful for the roof, were used as floor packing
to provide a greater support for the building itself. And thus,
this year, work in the Podere Funghi will concentrate on the
southeast corner of the structure as we continue our efforts
to better understand the earlier phase of occupation.
Photo of Trenches PF 5E and 15 as seen from the northeast at
the end of the 2004 field season.
We have reopened the
eastern two loci of Trench PF 5 as well as the two western loci
of PF 15 so that we can answer some specific questions left unanswered
last season. We had a wall extending into the SE corner of PF
15 (which necessitated the expansion at least east, if not south,
to find the extent of the wall). It is at a lower elevation and
a different width than the main structure. And so the questions
we asked were simple: as our trench is in the middle of a plowed
field, how much of the wall has been plowed away (has the elevation
we now see been affected in modern times, or are all the changes
ancient)? What is the function of this wall (since it is a different
width, does it indicate another room, or perhaps a terracing
wall)? Does this wall separate interior from exterior space (and
can we be sure)?
In order to answer these
questions, we have expanded into the eastern two loci of PF 15.
In this trench we know we will find the second, eastern, half
of a heat related anomaly; we hope to ascertain its shape and
either call it a kiln or define its usage.
More information on both
our wall spur and our heat related anomaly will help us to understand
the earlier phase of this structure. We hope that by the end
of the season we can answer questions about the relationships
between the heat related anomaly, the wall, and the structure-Are
the wall and HRA contemporaneous with each other? With the structure?
And how do we know
Thus far this season,
we have excavated stratum one, which is plow zone and our modern
context. After 6 years of excavation in the field, we know the
ultimate depth of the plow was 50cm. And this year, as we get
farther away from the walls, we find less historic context preserved.
(The walls caused an uneven plowing and have protected whole
vessels, kiln walls, and floor levels.) Whole strata have been
plowed away causing more questions with regards to context of
the HRA. My assistant, Aaron, has been leading the students,
Stephanie, Fred, Kathleen, and Chelsea and all have been working
with amazing patience (at my frustration with the stratigraphy)
as we discover what the extent of the plow damage is.
The HRA has been more
clearly defined and now appears to be another kiln. We would
like to take ultimate elevations on it and compare these to the
other kilns in the field to see if we can tell if they were used
at the same time. We hope that further information about the
wall, which seems to have ended (we will know for sure in the
next day or so), will tell us more about this. For, if this wall
was a terracing wall, then we would assume that it was terracing
the area for the kiln. In that case, there is a probability that
some of the kilns were used contemporaneously with the occupation
of the structure.
Only time will tell,
and we hope that all of this can be answered over the next few
weeks. With the energy and enthusiasm of my students and assistant
supervisor, I honestly believe we can answer the questions with
which we started. Often new information leads to new questions,
but I have high expectations for the season, and look forward
to the challenges as they come.
View of Trench PF 15 from
the southeast corner in 2005 Week 2.
Kathleen Rickards, Aaron
Bartels, Chelsea Stonerock, and Stephanie Brown in PF 15.
Fred Martino writing in
his field notebook.
Volunteer Miriam, Stephanie Brown, Kathleen
Rickards, Chelsea Stonerock,
and Fred Martino opening Trench PF 17 during Week 4. View from
View the southeast of Trenches PF 15 and 17 from during Week
with Stephanie Brown, Fred Martino, and Aaron Bartels at work.
Dr. Carole Brandt of SMU with
Katy Blanchard in the Podere Funghi.
Katy Blanchard giving the Week 5 PF 15 and 17 trench tour. View
from the southeast.
Irregular heat-related anomaly in Trench PF 15. View from the
And so we would like
to say that excavation in the Podere Funghi has ended. This last
week was bittersweet as we closed up our trenches and worried
about missing any last bit of information before we called it
over. And before I write any more about this season, I would
like to thank everyone who has worked in the FOD these past years,
but especially to Rob Belanger. You were missed this season.
Kathleen Rickards and Aaron Bartels opening Trench PF 17, south
of PF 15.
But to re-cap from this
season: our main goals were to find out what was going on here
on the SE corner of the building. We had a wall and half of a
heat related anomaly which located our excavations this season.
We not only finished excavating the other half of PF 15, but
we opened PF 17 (to the south) as well as PF 18 (to the east).
Further, we took one more pass in PF 5E to more clearly see the
lowest extent of the wall coursings.
Left to right: Fred Martino, Chelsea Stonerock, and Aaron Bartels
in PF 18.
We had no major cataloged
finds, but we had many that remained in situ-26 new post holes,
the remainder of the HRA, the farthest extent of the southern
wall, a new corner, a terracing level, and a ground fissure.
Heat-related anomaly (left), postholes (center), and wall in
Funghi trenches at end of 2005 season, viewed from the north.
And so our season saw
us excavate the eastern extent of PF15 to the cosidetto floor
level on which the HRA sat. Once that entire 5x5 meter area was
at the same stratum, we could excavate it out in its entirety,
one student in each locus, working their way to the HRA and some
answers. This was when the post holes started to appear. Many
seem to be paired off, but not all of them. There seems to be
no pattern, but if we look at them as evidence of, say, small
fixtures that could have served as drying racks instead of lining
up for a wall, they begin to make more sense. We had enough time
to take a pass through this next stratum, isolating the post
PF 15 and 17 trench team at work during Week 5.
Our southern wall appeared
to somehow stop-we had several new stones and then just one in
the scarp. We were not sure if there was plow disturbance or
if there was indeed an end to the wall, so we expanded to the
south of PF 15 just before the four day break-and I have never
seen plowzone be removed more quickly or efficiently as my team
did in one day. Passes were taken to see if the wall truly ended.
We discovered a rock pile with one linear edge in the eastern
extent of the trench, and a big gap between this and the wall.
Was it a corner? And if it was, where did it go? Was our HRA
inside another room? We opened up PF 18 as one small locus in
the last week of excavation to know for sure that that wall did
not continue. For sometimes, it is finding nothing that answers
View of Trenches PF 15, 17, and newly opened 18 (right) from
the southeast in Week 6.
In the mean time, work
continued in PF 17 and we discovered a terracing platform. Created
out of bedrock and abutting the wall right before it ended, there
were many large flat stones that would have created a work space.
It was so shallow that it was just below plowzone and thus we
had no material context remaining to help us know for what purpose
it was used.
Final photo of Trenches PF 5E, 15, 17, and 18 from the southwest
And we had this gap between
the wall and the rock-pile-with-linear-face. My students know
that I don't like to give names to things until we know for sure
what they are, because if we do, we might incorrectly interpret
what we find. But if I refer to the HRA as such and not a kiln
(as it wasn't) we do not look for what is not there, but rather
have it play out before us and give us the answers. This gap
was suggestive, as it corresponded with the edge of the platform,
a soil change throughout my trench, a strange bit of rubble in
the southern scarp, a large amount of live roots (as well as
degraded roots), and all of our modern finds deeper than we expected
them to be. On our final day of excavation, last Thursday, a
small pass was taken in the NW corner of PF 17, locus 2 to see
if we would find wall lower. One large rock was found, as well
as one hole which appeared. It was 15cm in diameter. This caused
me to believe that we had a modern agricultural intrusion into
our trench-the field was vineyard in the early to mid 20th century,
and that would explain away all of my questions.
Above and below: final
photos of Trenches PF 5E, 15, 17, and 18 from the northwest in
Friday was scarp drawing
and final elevations, and after lunch it was decided to take
another pass in this area to better understand what this was-for
we could see more rocks through the void. If this was truly going
to be the last season, we had to know. So we dug late Friday
afternoon, and I returned on Saturday to finish cleaning out
this small 1.25 x 1.25m section of the trench. What we discovered
is that at some point there was ground movement. Whether it was
an earthquake or a natural void at a lower elevation I do not
know. But this was where our wall went. I found a lot of rocks
with smooth faces, a hand full of material finds (such as indescribable
pieces that we call grotty, a lug handle, and a section of a
fineware base) and a lot of dirt. We found our wall. And answered
all of my questions in one fell swoop.
Final photo of Trenches PF 5E, 15, 17, and 18 from the southeast
And now that the FOD
is closed, do we have all of our answers? No. But study seasons
and research will prove the most helpful. We still can't say
for sure what our heat-related anomaly is, only that it is not
kiln shaped. We do not know what our post holes were used for,
but reconstructions could help us decide. We do not know when
the ground shifted, sending the wall into the fissure. We do
not know why the wall has a corner, but no continuation. But
what we do know is that we have learned what we can from the
soil. Our answers will come in the next few years after research,
computer-reconstructions, and the discussion of these ideas.
PF 15 and 17 Trench Team, left to right: Katy Blanchard, Stephanie
Aaron Bartels, Kathleen Rickards, Chelsea Stonerock, and Fred
I would like to reiterate
my thanks to my students and my assistant: To Stephanie Brown,
Fred Martino, Kathleen Rickards, Chelsea Stonerock and Aaron
Bartels-thank you for your patience as we truly showed that finding
nothing is often the answer. During one moment of extreme heat
and sun one afternoon, the following haiku was created to sum
the day, and I promised them I would include it:
Broken and crying.
In the shadow of my face,
Plowzone never ends.
The entire trench team imitating Katy Blanchard.
Courtney Brasher hauling wheelbarrow from sifter pile back to
Katy Blanchard with her favorite stone (and wall) in Trench PF
Assistant Field Supervisor Aaron Bartels cleaning up scarp for
Above and below: Field Supervisor Katy Blanchard
on her last day to dig in the Podere Funghi.
Final photo of Trenches PF 5E, 15, 17, and 18 from the south
View from the west of postholes and walls in Podere Funghi trenches
at season's end.