Field Reports from the end of the 2000 Field Season
Michael Thomas

Week 5 August , 2000:

Michael Thomas and Kate Topper excavating bucchero in Trench PC 18.

As I write this report, I can’t help but feel a certain nostalgia for a nearly completed season of excavation. I am elated at the extent of our success this season. Every trench has provided a bit of excitement. Trench PC 20 continues to pull up amazing pottery and equally amazing architecture. Trench PC 19 has discovered a surprising addition which, at this very early stage, seems suspiciously cistern-like.

View of Trench PF 5 from the south.

Perhaps most exciting are the developments in Trench PF 5. Here Robert Belanger has not only discovered some impressive foundation walls, but what seems to be a hearth. Margaret Woodhull’s Trench PC 21, which has now been taken over by Poggio Colla veteran Laura Proud, may have a series of post holes cut into the bedrock. My own trench, Trench PC 18, has discovered some beautiful bucchero.

Sherds of an incised bucchero vessel
partially exposed in Trench PC 18.

As an architecture person, it is an especially exciting season that has raised some intriguing questions. Did Margaret’s T 21 discover evidence of a portico along the southern side of our site? Does Sarah Kupperberg have evidence of a cistern adjacent to our temple foundation walls? Do we have evidence for an Hellenistic settlement in the Podere Funghi? These are all questions that will not be answered this year as we may re-open several (if not all) of this year’s trenches in 2001.

Cavity (a cistern?) below the Phase 3 foundation wall in Trench PC 19.

I am particularly excited about architectural developments in Justin’s Trench PC 20. He has discovered a reused podium block in our north terrace wall. This conclusively dates this wall to the later periods of the site (as the stratigraphy from Trenches PC 20 and 3 suggests). Moreover, he may have a footing for one of the large Phase I foundation blocks set in the oldest datable stratum heretofore discovered.

Upside-down podium block in Trench PC 20 is near the bottom of the photo.


Week 6 August , 2000:

Michael Thomas drawing additions to the field survey map.

It is always a little sad to see something that you have spent seven weeks excavating completely filled with dirt after only 1 hour and a half of backfill. Several students I have talked to over the past couple of days seemed quite upset at the thought. For me, the great moment of finality every season is the sight of backfilled trenches. Anyone who now walks up to Poggio Colla, or to the Podere Funghi, will be greeted by that sight.

Backfilling Trench PC 19 at the end of the 2000 field season.

Despite the sadness associated with the end of the season, we are ecstatic from its results. The impressive finds are countless and the new evidence for architecture is inspiring. Yet before I launch into an account of our season I should thank some of the people who worked very hard to make it successful. First and foremost are our students. In my mind, we have never had a field school filled with such talented excavators. I hope that we see many of them back again next season. Secondly, I have to thank Kevin Beard, our Operations Manager, and Gillian Bearns, our House Manager. No one has worked harder this season than these two. Finally, our Trench Supervisors – Sarah Kupperberg, Justin Winkler, Margaret Woodhull, Laura Proud, and Rob Belanger have done an amazing job and the great results of our season are a tribute to their hard work.

Housing Manager Gillian Bearns and Operations Manager Kevin Beard.

I am not going to dive into detailed descriptions of our trenches; the trench supervisors have done that in their final reports. I do, however, want to look at the ramifications of this season’s work on what we know about Poggio Colla. In other words, let us look at the big picture.

The big picture, and the focus of excavation now for three seasons, is the monumental building on the acropolis. A building that we believe was a temple. Sarah’s discovery of the west wall filled in the last piece of the puzzle and we now know that our building measured 11 by 23 meters. Justin’s trench answered some interesting questions about chronology. The stratum that held the large Phase I block (that was discovered during the excavation of Trench PC 3), Stratum 4, produced no late pottery and an amazing amount of Orientalizing and Archaic bucchero (late 7th through the 6th century B. C.). The latest datable piece of pottery was a sherd of Attic Red-Figure (1st half of the fifth century B. C.). We therefore can speculate that the earliest phase of the building was built in the early 6th century. Its destruction and subsequent rebuilding took place sometime in the 5th century. At the same time, as confirmed by Justin’s careful excavation, the south terrace wall was built into the destruction debris of the earlier building. This new wall extended the terrace of the hilltop to accommodate the larger Phase II building. Justin’s trench also confirmed the later construction of the north terrace wall. The discovery of another podium block built into the north wall likely places at least one set of these blocks (we think that we have two different types) on our Phase II building. The cuttings in bedrock in Trench PC 21 may suggest the presence of a portico--perhaps in conjunction with a precinct wall--along the south side of the hill.

Trench PC 20 from the north.

Trenches PC 18 and PF 5 may have given us clues about the people who inhabited the lower slopes of the hill. On the terraces of the north slope of Poggio Colla, Trench PC 18 may have discovered evidence of the Archaic habitation. Perhaps the most exciting discovery of the year comes from Trench PF 5 we have foundations from a Hellenistic period dwelling, complete with everyday pottery and what seems to be a hearth. Thus we may now have habitation areas that coincide with our building phases on the acropolis.

View of Trench PF 5 from the west, with the hearth to the left.

I am excited about what the future holds in store for the excavation at Poggio Colla. Next year I am considering opening up larger trenches, especially in the areas of Trenches PC 19 and 20. Such trenches would be excavated over a two or three year period and enable us to see and understand larger expanses of our building.

I can’t wait!

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