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 5.

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 Beppina’s fabulous dinners.

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 during
excavation) lie cleaned for reassembly on Won Ng's conservation table.

Catherine Williams shows Kevin Beard how pieces of the oinochoe join.

Fragments of the bucchero oinochoe in various stages of joining.

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. They’re 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 move from
the Casa di Giotto to the Museo Beato Angelico in Vicchio for storage.

Director's Diary

Field Director's Diary

Trench PF 5

Trench PC 18

Trench PC 19

Trench PC 20

Trench PC 21

Conservator's Reports

Student Diaries