Field Reports from the end of the 2000 Field Season
Trench PC 18
Michael Thomas, Field Supervisor

Week 5 August , 2000:


Melinda Swendrak, Kate Topper, and Amy Hedgecock open a new locus in PC 18.

I would have hoped to say, especially after nearly 6 weeks of excavation, that I would be able to provide a sound theory about what we are excavating in Trench PC 18. Unfortunately that is not the case. We spent an especially exhaustive week of excavation bringing our expansion of T 18 down to the level of our original trench. After the removal of an amazing amount of earth last week, the early part of this week brought us two interesting developments. We have found additional fragments of a bucchero chalice base that we found in Locus 1. We have also found nearly twenty fragments of a beautifully incised bucchero vessel in the same area. This week, we also discovered an interesting feature in our new Locus, a circular feature of approximately 70 centimeters in diameter that seems to be the top part of a pit.

View of Trench PC 18 at the end of week 5, with the new
locus brought down to the level of the original trench.

Yet we still have no evidence of a tomb. The bucchero fragments, although quite impressive, seem to be out of context. That is, if they were originally part of a tomb group, they are now out of context because there is no evidence of the tomb itself. I was sure when I first saw our pit feature, that it was the top of a pozzetto tomb. This pit, the majority of which was excavated on Wednesday, seems to be empty. As we only have two days of excavation left, I am afraid that this year’s T 18 may end without the discovery of a tomb. The other possibility is that we shall discover a tomb on the last day of excavation (one always seems to discover the most important things on the last day of excavation).

Left: view of the pit, feature 2 in Trench PC 18. Right: detail of trench with bucchero fragments

Whether or not we have a tomb, T 18 has produced one great find, Kate Topper my assistant. Kate, who will start her graduate work at Harvard in the fall, is in my mind already a proven archaeologist. As Field Director, I often find myself away from the trench. Fortunately I have been able to leave the trench in Kate’s hands and she has done a superb job of running things when I am not around. I am deeply indebted to her for everything she has done this season.

Kate Topper (left) and Gillean Bearns.

Left: Michael Thomas removes bucchero vessel fragments from Trench PC 18.
Right: view of PC 18 from the north, with bucchero in foreground and pit feature in background.


Week 6 August , 2000:

Kate Topper and Gillean Bearns defining bucchero fragments in Trench PC 18.

As one would expect, the last week of excavation was eventful in Trench PC 18. Not only did we find some beautiful bucchero, but also we have new evidence that may help solve the puzzle of T 18 and its environs. The evidence we discovered suggests to me that T 18 and its pottery are not associated with a tomb.

Gillean Bearns continues to define the bucchero oinochoe fragments
so that they are ready for the conservators to consolidate and remove.

Incised bucchero oinochoe fragments and handle.

First, let’s start with the pottery. The last week of excavation centered around our new Locus, Locus 2. We had expanded the trench two weeks ago after finding significant parts of a bucchero base. We expanded the trench thinking that we had indeed discovered a tomb. After the week of excavation needed to bring the new Locus 2 down to the same level, we were finally able to explore the possible tomb area. Once we reached this level, I also resumed excavation in Locus 1. We discovered right way that the area of dark soil that we discovered was not a tomb, but instead a stratum that covered most of the trench. Excavation in this stratum produced spectacular finds this week. The highlight was an early bucchero oinochoe from Locus 2 that may or may not be associated with the above-mentioned base found in Locus 1. The removal of much of the oinochoe required the help of our conservators. We have so far recovered nearly fifty pieces and the conservators have successfully restored the neck and the beautiful notched handle. They have also put together large segments of the incised body. More pottery followed from the same level in Loci 1 and 2. These included a bucchero rocchetto, a coarseware lid, and a bucchero chalice fragment preserving three stamped griffins.

Joined fragments of the incised bucchero oinochoe.

Michael Thomas holds a PC 18 bucchero sherd with the
first example found at Poggio Colla of this incised motif.

The pottery was fragmentary and scattered across the trench in Stratum 5. If we had been digging a tomb, we should have recovered nearly whole vessels in a localized and distinct context. Careful study of our stratigraphy suggests at the lower levels the strata level out (instead of following the sloped upper strata). This means that the road near our trench–--where we had originally found pottery in this area after a large rain–--had in all likelihood cut through a terraced area. This suspicion was confirmed during conversation with Giuseppe Ancarani, or Beppe. Beppe told me that a significant amount of pottery was discovered when the road was initially cut in the late 1960’s (at the start of the Italian campaigns at Poggio Colla).

Amy Hedgecock excavating bucchero in Trench PC 18.

So what does this all mean? At this point we can only speculate. I believe that the terraced area where we are digging T 18 may have supported a habitation area. In fact, Mark Corney’s survey discovered a series of terraces running down the slopes along Poggio Colla’s north end. These terraces may have all been part of the early Etruscan settlement at Poggio Colla. The pottery found in T 18 suggests that the settlement dates to the late Orientalizing and Archaic periods (circa 600-500 B. C). Of course, it will take several years of excavation to solve this (much welcomed!) dilemma.

Amy Hedgecock, Melinda Swendrak, and Ashley Bennett in PC 18.

That said, I shall conclude this year’s report by thanking my trench crew. In addition to my assistant Kate Topper my crew this year consisted of three field school students, Amy Hedgecock, Melinda Swendrak, and Ashley Bennett. All three have turned into great excavators and I would be happy to see them all back at Poggio Colla. We were also fortunate to have Gillian Bearns, our house manager, help us during the last two weeks.

Left: Melinda Swendrak sifting. Right: Ashley Bennett, Melinda Swendrak, and Amy Hedgecock.

Melinda Swendrak, Gillean Bearns, Kate Topper, Ashley Bennett, Michael Thomas,
and Amy Hedgecock on the last full day of excavation in Trench PC 18 (from the west).

Ashley Bennett measures stratigraphy in scarps of Trench PC 18 so
that Kate Topper can make final drawings in the field notebook.

Scarp in Trench PC 18.

Final photo of Trench PC 18 from the southeast.

Final photo of Trench PC 18 from the southwest.

View of Trench PC 18 from the north.


Trench PC 18 Catalogued Finds from Previous Weeks

Bucchero lid finial.


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