2005 TRENCHES PF 5E, 15, 17 & 18
Katherine Blanchard, Field Supervisor
Aaron Bartels, Assistant Field Supervisor

 Field Students
Stephanie Brown

Fred Martino

Kathleen Rickards

Chelsea Stonerock



Field Supervisor, Katy Blanchard.


Assistant Field Supervisor, Aaron Bartels.

 

Opening Report - Week 2:

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 the southeast.




Fred Martino.

 


Kathleen Rickards.

 


Stephanie Brown.

 


Chelsea Stonerock.

 


View the southeast of Trenches PF 15 and 17 from during Week 5,
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 northeast.

Final Report:

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 Podere
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 holes further.


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 our questions.


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 in 2005.

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 2005.

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 in 2005.

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 Brown,
Aaron Bartels, Kathleen Rickards, Chelsea Stonerock, and Fred Martino.

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 trench.

 


Katy Blanchard with her favorite stone (and wall) in Trench PF 15.

 


Assistant Field Supervisor Aaron Bartels cleaning up scarp for final photos.

 


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 in 2005.


View from the west of postholes and walls in Podere Funghi trenches at season's end.