Field Reports from
the end of the 2000 Field Season
Trench PF 5
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
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
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 artisans 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 weeks 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
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 artisans
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
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 structures 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
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 PF 5 Catalogued
Finds from Previous Weeks
Two crucibles from Trench
Tea cup from Trench PF 5, before conservation (above) and after
Large coarseware bowl profile found in Trench PF 5.
Trench PF 5
Trench PC 18
Trench PC 19
Trench PC 20
Trench PC 21