Field Reports from the end of the 2000 Field Season
Trench PF 5
Robert Belanger, Field Supervisor

Week 5 August , 2000:


Left to right: Melissa Tschebaum, Robert Belanger, Greg Cress,
and Katy Blanchard gather to discuss a new find in Trench PF 5.

The fifth week of excavation here in the Podere del Funghi has presented us with even more interesting finds in Trench PF 5. We have rapidly made our way through the first and second levels of stratum 2 and have made several interesting finds along the way. These finds are the best way in which to explain the events of the week, as well as integral in interpreting the use of the Etruscan structure which we are currently excavating.

Professor Patricia Lulof of the University of Amsterdam (left) visits Trench PF 5.

The completion of the first two passes through stratum 2 revealed a host of interesting finds in all loci, although predominantly in stratum 2A of locus 1. Katy initiated the first of these finds by discovering a small black glaze sherd embedded in the corner of the wall visible in locus 4. This find is particularly interesting because not only is it the solitary piece of black glaze pottery unearthed from PF 5, but also a sherd whose context was within a supposedly sterile stratum 2B. As such, this find proved that further excavation into stratum 2B was necessary, something which we have carried out over the past week, although without conclusive results.

View of Trench PF 5 from the south.

View of Trench PF 5 from the east.

Just to the west of the Hellenistic foundation wall running northerly through locus 2, Jurriaan excavated a large coarseware base some 11 cm in diameter in stratum 2A. Such a vessel would have been used in a strenuous industrial or domestic setting, and its thick and heavy composition reflects this fact. Finer vessels have also been unearthed, such as the two fineware rims Melissa exposed in the center of locus 1 (trapped within a small rockfall in that area), rims which eventually turned out to be very nice near complete profiles. These varied finds, coupled with the "crucibles" and large coarseware finds of the previous weeks, lend credence to the notion that the structure was possibly used as an artisan’s area to feed the booming economy of the Etruscans congregating on the arx of Poggio Colla on the hilltop above. This is one theory which we have kept in mind while excavating the FOD this season, and it would explain the vast amount of discarded pottery discovered further to the south in the field the last two dig seasons.

The biggest surprises of the week, however, came in the various forms of the metal finds we have made in the field. Over the course of the past week three different metals have been discovered: Greg removed two small pieces of lead from locus 1 (one a small circular marble and the other an egg-shaped sphere) and a thin piece of bronze that suspiciously looks like a fibula. Katy struck pay dirt again in the same area by finding a large section of iron (possibly a spike), followed up by my discovery of a small piece of copper-alloy slag. Such metal finds are unique in the history of the Podere del Funghi, for previously finds have usually been limited to bone and ceramic finds. These metals hint towards the feasibility of metalworking capabilities in the FOD, something which would also coincide with present ideas of artisan activity in the structure.

View of Trench PF 5 from the north.

The structure itself is turning into something quite beautiful. We have spent a good deal of time defining the wall foundations, which are not free-floating as some had thought, but rather anchored in a series of bigger stones below. Our current work may eventually point towards an Archaic building phase below, on top of which the presently visible Hellenistic foundations were laid. Also, a strange black and red packed layer in the center of locus 1 discovered by Katy may be the remnants of a packed floor level of the Hellenistic level, something we hope to explore further in the week to come. Finally, a strange carbon deposit in the northwest corner of locus 1 may be the last remnants of a structural beam as tree-rings are visible. As such we have saved the carbon in the hopes of having it dendrochronologically dated in the near future. These and other projects are things we hope to accomplish by the last few days of excavation, goals which certainly would not have been possible without the continued hard work of my excavation crew in trench PF 5 of the FOD.


Week 6 August , 2000:

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Members of the FOD crew look into
their trench after the final trench tour, the day before backfilling.
Left to right above and below: Greg Cress, Jurriaan Venneman,
Rob "Base" Belanger, Melissa Tschebaum, and Katy Blanchard.

As is typical with the excavations we have done in the FOD over the past three years, the best and often most unexpected of finds are made in the last week of digging. Trench PF 5 is no exception.

The unique black and red patch of earth located in the north-center of locus 1 (briefly mentioned in last week’s report) has not turned out to be the packed floor level we had anticipated, but rather something even more exciting. After excavating out all of locus 1 at the level of this feature, it became apparent that the patch of earth was circular and covered with a slight level of carbon over the top of a red layer. This clearly intentional shape was determined by Dr. Warden to be the lower remnants of an Etruscan hearth, the first ever discovered in the Podere Funghi and Poggio Colla. Additionally, the surrounding area of packed black and gold clay also seems to be the lower floor level for which we have been searching. The intentional enclosure of the hearth by a circle of strategically placed stones, mud-brick, and ceramic sherds within locus 1 also corroborates this assessment.

Black and red packed layer in locus 1 (to right), which may be a hearth.

The impact of such a discovery must not be underestimated. The presence of a hearth in the FOD amidst the Hellenistic wall foundations running throughout the trench only solidifies the use of the structure in a domestic capacity. It also helps us to understand the vast amounts of heavy pottery discovered throughout the trench this dig season, and to explain the form and function of unique artifacts such as the pedestaled coarseware vessel and "crucibles" discovered in week 4. These vessels are clearly not meant to be used ornamentally, but rather are heavily-crafted industrial pieces created to endure repeated use. Their close proximity to the hearth (within a meter radius) places them within the context of this domestic area of the structure, which in turn provides us with the overall context of Trench PF 5 -- that of a large structure with a domestic area. However, we will have to wait another year until we are able to fully explore the other chambers of this structure to determine if it is possibly a large farmhouse or artisan’s quarter. For although the excavation of locus 1 has provided us an exceptional look into the domestic area of the structure in Trench PF 5, it is by no means indicative of the use of the structure as a whole.

Large coarseware vessel in Trench PF 5.

Locus 2 has also provided us a few surprises of its own. On the last day of excavation to the east of the Hellenistic wall foundation, we came across what seemingly appeared to be a small coarseware rim protruding through the surface. Upon defining this rim further, it became apparent that the rim was part of a nearly complete coarseware storage vessel pushed up against the wall foundation. As the FOD has had a notorious history of being deep-plowed over and over again, the determination was made to salvage this vessel from a context where it inevitably would have been destroyed otherwise. That morning we were successful in our efforts, pulling the vessel (approximately 26 cm in depth as well) completely intact from its position against the wall. As we had previously collected the missing rim fragments scattered around the original rim section, it now appears that we may have not just a full profile, but also a complete coarseware storage vessel, another first for the Podere Funghi. The vessel may be part of a larger collection of storage vessels comprising an adjacent storage chamber to the east of the hearth zone, but this cannot be verified until further excavation of the site ensues.

Vessel lifted into a bucket. See photos below of continued excavation of this vessel.

It appears that our structure has been tentatively dated as well. A uniquely grooved flange tile emerging from locus 1 was examined by Dr. Patricia Lulof from the University of Amsterdam during her visit to the site. Dr. Lulof commented that the technological advancement reflected in this particular roof tile is something which was discovered no earlier than 550 B.C.--signifying that the structure’s current phase could not have been constructed prior to this date. However, our work to the west of the wall in locus 2 may indicate that the current Hellenistic level our structure may be built upon an older Archaic level--possibly the first phase of the site. In this area we excavated approximately 10 cm beneath the hearth/floor level of locus 1, discovering a vast array of rock and tile packed into the earth. This is most likely a floor packing for the aforementioned level, but the question lingers as to whether the packing was reused from a previous destruction layer from Archaic or pre-Archaic times. Such a destruction would explain the presence of bucchero in a Hellenistic foundation level, but again, cannot be verified until excavation resumes in the trench next dig season.

View of Trench PF 5 from the north, with hearth in lower left.

Excavation in loci 3 and 4 ceased some time ago to the south of the east-west running wall as no artifacts have turned up in stratum 2B, the bluish-gold colored earth of the FOD. Such earth usually indicates approaching bedrock and, judging by the absence of artifacts from this stratum, it seems that this is the sterile layer of clay just above bedrock in the FOD. As such, I decided to concentrate our efforts further to the north in stratum 2A--a decision which was a highly informative and strategic move resulting in the discovery of the majority of our aforementioned artifacts and features. Even so, the discovery of the seemingly terminal stratum 2B in these two loci is just as important to the overall context of the FOD structure as all the work we have done in stratum 2A. The trench as a whole has been extremely informative, and when the work done in all four loci is compiled, our efforts have resulted in a highly unique and important chapter in the annals of the Podere Funghi.

Final photo of Trench PF 5 from the west.

Finally, to close out the final web report for the 2000 dig season from the Podere Funghi, I think it is only fitting to thank the four core excavators who have made such an exciting trench possible. Katy Blanchard, Greg Cress, Melissa Tschebaum, and Jurriaan Venneman--all of whom had no prior excavation experience upon their arrival six weeks ago--pulled together early on to become a cohesive group of efficient and skilled excavators. Their hard work and enthusiasm have made Trench PF 5 an exceptional experience in archaeology, and I am very proud to have been a part of this team. Together we have made the FOD not just another trench, but an experience all its own.

Katy Blanchard and Jurriaan Venneman watch Rob Belanger excavate the vessel's interior.

Rob Belanger continues removing soil from inside the vessel.

Jurriaan Venneman and Melissa Tschebaum.

Greg Cress and Katy Blanchard.

Katy Blanchard (center) at her birthday party at Vigna, with
Kate Topper, Gillean Bearns, Kay Johnson, and Amy Hedgecock.

Katy Blanchard, Rob Belanger, and Greg Cress plant their flag and wait
for the rest of the Poggio Colla Field School to arrive for final trench tours.

Trench PF 5 Catalogued Finds from Previous Weeks

Two crucibles from Trench PF 5.

Tea cup from Trench PF 5, before conservation (above) and after (below).

Large coarseware bowl profile found in Trench PF 5.

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