Field Reports from
the end of the 2000 Field Season
Trench PC 19
Week 5 August , 2000:
Sarah Kupperberg taking
There has been much excitement over the
new information emerging from T19 during a week rich both in
artifactual and architectural discoveries.
View of Trench PC 19 from the
west, with Julia Dewey cleaning
a void in locus 2 containing worked blocks. In the background,
Leigh Hartman and Remy Stokhof de Jong take another pass.
As we resumed excavation around our western
temple wall foundation, we found that its Stratum 3 context continued
much deeper than we had anticipated with no sign either of a
soil change or, at about 70 cm. below ground level, of bedrock.
The Phase 3 foundation itself proved to continue throughout the
depth of the stratum with no apparent sign of an earlier foundation
level. That is, until we received a serendipitous glimpse of
what awaits us further below. Just to the exterior of the wall
foundation, a small hole in the trench suddenly opened up into
a cavity, at least 80 cm. deep, within which we can see several
lower wall courses of lovely, worked, red sandstone blocks. These
are of certain Phase 2 affiliation, and one even has chisel marks
on its face. There are other large blocks of sandstone, which
are not part of the foundations, visible within the hole. While
it is clear that the underground cavity is substantial, it is
still unclear whether it is a natural formation of bedrock or
an artificial cutting, and the answer depends upon further investigation.
For the moment, we a very pleased to have located Phase 2 in
Cavity below the Phase
3 foundation wall in Trench PC 19.
Worked Phase 2 sandstone
blocks visible in the cavity just
outside and below the Phase 3 foundation wall of Trench PC 19.
On the interior of the temple, we have
worked our way through all of the major architectural rubble
to find some fascinating small artifacts beneath. Most importantly,
two fragments of a green glass finger ring were discovered. This
is the first reported instance of ancient glass at Poggio Colla.
The interior locus has also been rich in metal, particularly
Enlargement of a partially
glass finger ring from Trench PC 19.
Finally, we have been able to show beyond
any doubt that there is a significant construction, contemporary
with our main Hellenistic building, situated directly
to its west and in extremely close proximity. In T19, we have
determined that the rubble foundations run parallel to the temple
wall for about a meter before turning to the west. There is another
spur wall foundation which juts out to the south. Although we
are still baffled by the positioning of this structure, and unsure
of its purpose and relationship to the main building, we have
excavated enough of it to make some general observations. The
foundation is of dry, stone, rubble construction, which has now
partially collapsed in a mess of fist-sized stones. It is, however,
quite tall - about 50 cm. - and sturdy and in places, with some
really large supporting blocks. There are several even, flat
faces where all the blocks have been preserved, but also strange
jogs and irregularities, blank spaces in the foundation, which
could be due to missing stones or to the design of the structure.
And lastly, the northern face of the foundation, probably an
interior space, seems to be developing a curved profile. This,
again, may be the result of stones spilled off to the inside.
However the final picture develops, one of our most pressing
tasks for the remainder of the season will be to completely define
the outline of this feature.
View looking down into
the west end of PC 19 from the north.
Same view as above, with
Julia Dewey and Kay Johnson working.
Leigh Hartman and Remy
Stokhof de Jong inside the temple wall, in the east end of PC
Left: Team Nutella: Kay Johnson,
Leigh Hartman, Remy Stokhof de Jong, and Julia Dewey during the
morning nutella/cookie break. Right: Sarah Kupperberg, Julia
Dewey, and Kay Johnson in the trench.
Week 6 August , 2000:
Sarah Kupperberg directs her trench
rain or shine.
The final weeks of our season in Trench
PC 19 provided some of the most exciting moments of excavation,
as well as some of the most significant finds.
Kay Johnson excavates a complete
vessel in Trench PC 19.
See additional photos below of the excavation of this vessel.
We had the great fortune to discover
three apparently complete vessels, all in the small contexts
exterior to our main wall foundations and divided by the little
spur wall which runs into the southern scarp. Two were found
in very close proximity, in a heavily burned layer of Stratum
3 soil in the locus just exterior to the western foundation.
Both showed signs of intense burning. Just to the other side
of the spur wall, we unearthed a beautiful orangeware vase. Another
surprising find from the same context as the pithos was a terracotta
object molded in the shape of a bird, perhaps a chicken or duck.
Needless to say, we are still wondering exactly what purpose
this object may have originally served. I think that the most
important thing about the discovery of complete vessels in Stratum
3, particularly in association with intense burning, is the suggestion
of a relatively well-preserved destruction level. We have always
considered Stratum 3 to be a layer of redistributed floor packing
in the wake of a destructive event, but here we have found broken
vessels, and their ancient contents, apparently where they fell.
This burn layer may be the closest thing to an in situ deposit
that we have encountered thus far at Poggio Colla.
A terracotta votive bird (missing its head) from Trench PC 19.
The locus interior to the main wall foundation
is the only one in which we have excavated all the way down to
bedrock. In the southern half of the locus, it is almost a meter
deep and divided from Stratum 3 by a thin layer of sterile soil.
In the lowest levels of Stratum 3 we made some very intriguing
discoveries. In addition to the glass ring mentioned previously,
we now have a glass bead with inlaid decoration and fibrous material
preserved inside. We also uncovered a metal stud, made of an
iron core and revetted with bronze. Finally, several broken fragments
of iron proved to join into the shape of a key.
Final photo of Trench PC 19 from the northeast.
Along the eastern scarp in this interior
locus we did not manage to bring the level all the way to bedrock,
but rather noticed an interesting feature of Stratum 3. The clayey,
reddish-brown soil of the stratum does not disappear but dips
nearly 20 cm. to create a sort of trough running along the scarp.
Within the trough, and precisely in the NE corner of the trench,
rests a large and slightly rounded sandstone block. Of course,
it is not immediately clear what the nature of the block is,
but it does appear to be worked and may represent a pre-Hellenistic
phase of architecture in T19.
We began the 2000 season of excavation
with a very specific goal in mind--to locate the western foundations
of Poggio Collas major Hellenistic building. We complete
our work both having accomplished that goal and having gleaned
much additional information from the surprises in T19. We now
know that the western reaches of the arx were as architecturally
complex during the Hellenistic period as was the northern section
of the hill, with its multiple wall foundations and small storage
rooms. Here, we have discovered architecture exterior to the
main structure and clearly differentiated from it in terms of
artifactual content. On the interior of the western wall foundations,
the density of metal finds in Stratum 3, iron, bronze, and lead,
was unusually high, and both of the glass ornaments came from
this context. Outside of the wall, the finds were quite different--a
storage jar containing charred seeds, another broken and burned
coarseware vessel, a molded terra-cotta object, and a small fineware
vase. The space interior to our mysterious, curving, second wall
foundation yielded barely any artifacts at all. Despite the clear
differentiations among activity areas, delineated both by architecture
and by artifacts, we identified a pattern for Stratum 3 in T19
that is quite unlike any that we have ever been able to demonstrate
before. We found, consistently, a packed surface beneath which
lay the debris of roof tile, mud brick, sandstone, and daub.
The architectural rubble, in turn, concealed a layer of smaller
artifacts which were often badly burned and in complete enough
condition to perhaps represent an actual destruction level.
Julia Dewey excavates a pithos
charred seeds in Trench PC 19.
There are several mysteries left unsolved
in T19, and we hope that this encourages further excavation in
the immediate area. We still have not determined what the relationship
is among the many wall foundations, nor have we discovered what
purpose the deep and curving foundation may have served. We did
not have the opportunity to excavate most of the trench down
to bedrock and thus were not able to fully define the profile
of Phase 2 architecture underneath our Phase 3 foundations. The
pit on the exterior of our main, western wall also has yet to
be fully explored. It is clear that there is a great deal of
potential in this trench, and I consider the season to have been
an extremely successful one.
These photos document the excavation of Kay's vessel. Above and
below: the vessel and surrounding soil are pedestaled for lifting
Sarah Kupperberg wrapped the mound of earth containing the vessel
in gauze, then Greg Warden
lifted it with a shovel. Here, the mound is misted to consolidate
the vessel for transport to conservation.
Sarah Kupperberg, Greg Warden, and Kay Johnson protecting the
a bucket of damp soil for transfer down the mountain to the conservation
Kay Johnson sweeping Trench PC 19
for final drawings and photography.
Final photo of Trench PC 19 from the east.
Final photo of Trench PC 19 from west.
Pithos (lower left), location of the vessel shown above, and
Trench PF 5
Trench PC 18
Trench PC 19
Trench PC 20
Trench PC 21