Field Reports from the end of the 2000 Field Season
Trench PC 19
Sarah Kupperberg, Field Supervisor

Week 5 August , 2000:

Sarah Kupperberg taking "aerial photography."

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 T19.

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 iron, objects.

Enlargement of a partially conserved
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 19.

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 Colla’s 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 containing
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 vessel in
a bucket of damp soil for transfer down the mountain to the conservation lab.


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 cavity (right).


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