Field Reports from
the end of the 2000 Field Season
Won Ng, Conservator
Dena Cirpili and Catherine Williams, Assisant Conservators
Week 5 August , 2000:
Conservator Won Ng joins
fragments of a bucchero chalice from Trench PC 20.
Another exciting week in conservation
has come and gone! Fabulous finds from the field have kept us
busy in the lab. In addition to the daily cleaning of black glaze
sherds, metals and other pieces from the field, several interesting
artifacts were found on Thursday and Friday. Pieces of a small
ring were excavated in Trench PC 19. It appears to be glass,
but is still being cleaned and studied in the lab. A small copper
alloy chain was excavated from Trench PC 20 and was cleaned and
consolidated by Won. Trench PC 20 continues to produce hundreds
of ceramic sherds each day, including some wonderful bucchero
rims and handles, and an almost complete bucchero footed vessel.
The footed vessel is currently being reassembled in the lab.
Dena continued working on the cleaning and consolidation of a
small cup found in Trench PF 5 last week. Cleaning the soft ceramic
coated with hardened dried dirt has proven to be a difficult
project. It is well underway and we all await wonderful results.
Above and below: footed
bucchero vessel from Trench PC 20 reassembled by Won Ng.
A conserved polychrome
vessel neck from Trench PC 20.
Tea cup from Trench PF
On Thursday, we went with Karen Vellucci
and Mark Corney on a research trip to the Volterra archaeological
museum to see their Etruscan collection. It was wonderful to
see such a large number of whole vessels and metal objects similar
to the fragments we have here at Poggio Colla. After lunch in
Volterra, we trekked on to Cecina to see a new exhibit of tombs
excavated from Casale Maritima. It was a wonderful opportunity
to see beautiful artifacts carefully excavated and conserved.
The objects in one tomb were so fragile that the entire tomb
was block lifted with the dirt and the artifacts left in situ.
The tomb was on display in the museum in a sealed case. Seeing
the two museums back to back, we were able to easily see changes
in attitudes and practice of archaeological conservation and
the exhibition of excavated materials in Italy. Also in Cecina,
we stopped by the archaeological park to check out a Roman villa
with a great cistern.
Catherine Williams (left) and Dena Cirpili (right) working on
finds from week 5.
Note: they wear the matching shirts voluntarily. We don't know
what it means.
And, we think of Ellen often as we try
to keep up with the finds from the field and feast on Beppinas
Week 6 August , 2000:
Dena Cirpili cuts a styrofoam form to fit into
a box to protect a catalogued find in storage.
Catherine Williams cleans a terracotta bird from Trench PC 19.
Welcome to the madness of our world.
The excavators have found mass quantities of exciting artifacts,
and proudly bring them up to our lab every day. Catherine has
been treating a beautifully inlaid glass bead from Trench 19
which was embedded in soil that was hard as a rock. Dena has
been working on a wonderful and unusual copper alloy rivet with
an iron center core. Won, in addition to treating objects, has
been dealing with questions such as: Where do we put all of these
artifacts? What do we have time to treat before the end of the
season and what can wait until next season? How should we prepare
the artifacts for their time in storage? Whose turn is it to
go to pottery washing?
The conservators recommended
protecting the hearth in
Trench PF 5 with a sheet of gauze and packing of fine soil.
Early in the week, the conservators were
taken to the field to look at a hearth that was found in the
trench located in the Podere Funghi (Trench PF 5). The archaeologists
have decided not to excavate the hearth this summer, but leave
it for next season. So, the conservators went to advise about
how to cover the hearth so it is not disturbed during backfilling
of the trench.
Conservator Won Ng teaching assistants
Catherine Williams (above left) and
Dena Cirpili (right) to excavate fragments of bucchero oinochoe
in Trench PC 18.
Later in the week, we were called up
to the site for an exciting rescue mission of beautiful bucchero
pottery which was found in Trench PC 18. We packed various supplies,
not knowing what we would need until we had arrived and analyzed
the situation. There were several clusters of a shattered bucchero
vessel. Two were large clusters of incised body sherds and the
other contained a lovely neck and handle. We carefully lifted
the pieces using our best archaeological conservation skills
and have spent a great deal of time cleaning and joining the
fragments back in the lab.
Fragments of the bucchero oinochoe handle (shown above
excavation) lie cleaned for reassembly on Won Ng's conservation
Catherine Williams shows Kevin Beard how pieces of the oinochoe
Fragments of the bucchero oinochoe in various stages of
We have been receiving a lot of visitors
in the lab this week, including people from the local Vicchio
community who are interested in the site, as well as members
of the international community. Many of the excavators have been
coming up to the lab as well to see the objects that they unearthed.
Theyre also interested in how they can better lift, pack,
and transport the artifacts to the lab. Trench PF 5 found a large
coarseware jar and carefully placed it inside fine, well-sifted
dirt which cushioned it during transport and also served as a
support to hold the fragments of the bowl in place.
The coarseware jar packed
in fine, sifted dirt for transport to the lab.
The Circolo Il Paese hosted a wonderful
party for the Poggio Colla team on Thursday night. After the
dinner we listened to Dr. Greg Warden give a slide presentation
about the site. He showed many slides of objects we had treated
in the lab this summer, and we kept pointing to the screen, saying,
"I cleaned that!"
Scene from the party hosted by the Circolo Il Paese.
But the fun must end sometime and we
are trying to wrap up business in the lab and close it for the
season. We will be continuing treatment for only a few more days
and then must tearfully depart from Italy.
Dena Cirpili's meticulous labeling and packing of finds for the
the Casa di Giotto to the Museo Beato Angelico in Vicchio for
Trench PF 5
Trench PC 18
Trench PC 19
Trench PC 20
Trench PC 21