2009 TRENCH PC 34 and PC 28
Field Supervisor: Andrea Summers, University of North Carolina


 Opening Report    Final Report

Field Supervisor Andrea Summers

Opening Report:

Since the students arrived on Saturday, we have all been hard at work on the hilltop sanctuary of Poggio Colla. Despite a few passing rain showers, the weather has been sunny and warm. The students are quickly developing their excavation skills, such as interpreting stratigraphy and how to identify artifacts. They are working on everything from sifting dirt to defining delicate features. Over the next six weeks they will be exposed to a variety of archaeological methods that enable us to interpret this ancient Etruscan site.

This summer I am re-opening trench PC 34, which was begun during the 2008 season in order to better understand the architecture and role of the western portion of the site. As the primary structure on the hill seems to be an open-air courtyard, it will be fascinating to better understand the network of surrounding rooms. In addition to several Roman coins and countless ceramic vessels, last year the excavators uncovered a series of three walls which correspond to the later phases of the Poggio Colla structure.

Andrea Summers explains PC 34 during trench tours

View from the east of Trench PC 34 during Week 3

My goal this season is to continue excavating around these walls in order to determine their chronology and how these rooms relate to the rest of the site. The students have been digging through cultural material from the first day and we have already uncovered a series of pithoi (large storage vessels) which appear to sit on a floor level. This terrific discovery leads me to believe that I am excavating a series of storage rooms that were associated with the sanctuary. We will take soil samples from these pithoi in order to determine what they held at the time of their destruction. As we continue to dig in the coming weeks, I am hoping that we will also encounter remnants of the earliest phases of occupation at Poggio Colla, which at this point has only consisted of a few scattered remains. PC 34 promises to be very exciting as we have much more to learn from the western side of the hill.

Andrea Summers with fragments of pithoi in PC 34

Fragments of roof tile and pithoi in Trench PC 34

PC 34 team at work during Week 3


PC 34 Team - back: Matt Elverson and Andrea Summers. Front: Natalie Fiegel,
Ian Hagmann, Katie Breen, Molly Palmison, Alison Crevi, and Al i Neugebauer


View from the southwest of progress in Trench PC 34 during Week 4


Students busy in PC 34


Molly Palmison excavates a vessel in PC 34 (butterfly passing by)


Katie Breen excavating a pithos in Trench PC 34


Ian Hagmann excavating a circular stone in PC 34


Natalie Fiegel digging in a complex locus of PC 34


Alison Crevi (right) in PC 34


Ali Neugebauer in PC 34


Students digging in Trench PC 34 on Poggio Colla


Ali Crevi sweeping in PC 34


Molly Palmison excavates the base of a pithos in PC 34


Conservators consolidate pithos in north scarp of PC 34 prior to opening adjoining locus


Natalie Fiegel builds a support for the base of the pithos in PC 34


Final Report

Andrea Summers with pithos fragment from PC 34


After 5 weeks of intense excavation, we have finally completed work in PC 34 and our extension into PC 28. Looking back now, I am amazed at all we have accomplished this season. Our success is entirely due to the hard work of my students: Katie, Ali, Ian, Natalie, Ali, and Molly. Along with my assistant Matt, we have made a truly great team.

PC 34 Team - back: Andrea Summers, Matt Elverson, Katie Breen, Ian Hagmann
Front: Molly Palmison, Alison Crevi, Natalie Fiegel, and Al i Neugebauer

It is clear now that we are studying a network of western storage rooms surrounding an open-air courtyard on Poggio Colla. The building appears to have experienced a major destruction event. We excavated a thick stratum of mudbrick, which I believe came from the mudbrick walls which seem to have collapsed and burned in our storage room. Ironically, this devastating event over two millennia ago preserved a vast amount of cultural material for us to study today.

View from the east of Trench PC 34 in Week 4, with conservators working on pithos


Over these past few weeks, we have been able to define a series of three walls which stretch throughout PC 34. Our angled western wall is particularly interesting, as it sits above the mudbrick deposit. In other words, the wall seems to have been constructed after our destruction event. This discovery implies that there may have been activity on Poggio Colla later than previously thought.

View from the south of the team at work in Trench PC 34 during Week 6

From the first day of excavation the students began uncovering fascinating material. Our earliest finds included two giant ceramic vessels called pithoi. One was fragmented, while the other was incredibly well preserved (albeit sticking out the side of our trench wall). After several days of detailed excavation work, we were able to lift over 150 pieces of the fragmented pithos. During this process, we also found nearly 20 weaving implements called loom weights. Unfortunately, excavating the intact pithos would not be so easy.

Fragments of pithoi in north scarp of Trench PC 34 at the end of Week 4


Pithos in PC 34 prior to excavation of vessel interior

We were all very eager to discover what was stored inside the pithos, but in order to continue excavating we needed to extend PC 34 to the north. Thus began work in one quadrant of PC 28. With only 5 days to dig, the students successfully excavated four strata of this extension and exposed the back half of our giant pithos.

Opening new locus of PC 28 to excavate interior of PC 34 pithos in scarp


View from Trench PC 34 looking north into the newly opened locus of Trench PC 28; students taking levels

Once we could finally excavate the interior, we found a substantial collection of seeds, which filled over four buckets. Our paleobotanist will have a chance to study these seeds in the future. After emptying out the interior, we were able to examine the pithos in an entirely new light. Much to our surprise, we were not excavating the base, but rather the rim of an upside down pithos. Needless to say, this discovery has intrigued everyone on site and we are still discussing various explanations for the odd placement.

Completed level in PC 28 in Week 5


Katie Breen, Cathy Yoon, and Matt Elverson complete excavation in PC 34


Natalie Fiegel excavates the interior of a huge pithos in Trenches PC 28 and 34


PC 34 and PC 28 turned out to be fascinating trenches full of pithoi, loom weights, and even a Roman coin. I have had a fabulous time this season, mostly because of the positive attitude and good humor of my students. I can't thank them enough for their tireless efforts and supreme work in the trench. I certainly will never forget this amazing season.

Natalie Fiegel and Matt Naiman excavate pithos fragments in PC 34


Alison Crevi excavates a coin in the new locus of Trench PC 28


Katie Breen completing excavation of wall in Trench PC 39


Measuring finds in Trench PC 34 for entry in Andrea Summers' field notebook


After the rain: Matt Elverson measuring for final Trench 28 scarp drawings


Final photo from the south of lid and pithos in Trenches PC 28 (background) and PC 34


Final photo of Trench PC 28, from the north


Final photo of Trench PC 28 (foreground) and PC 34, from the north


Final photo of Trench PC 28 (upper right) and PC 34, from the east


Final photo of Trench PC 28 (background) and PC 34, from the south



Final photo of Trench PC 28 (left) and PC 34, from the west