2001 TRENCH PF 8
Katherine Blanchard, Field Supervisor

 


Field Supervisor of Trench PF 8, Katherine Blanchard.

 

Week 5:


The effervescent Katherine (Katy) Blanchard (left of center)
explains her new trench, PF 8, during trench tours.

The fifth week of excavation normally brings a whole new set of questions: trenches are down to a point for which they've been reaching all season and this year (at least in the FOD), it means seeing a more complete picture as the old trenches and the new trenches are all at the same level. This year, it also sees the opening of a new trench, PF 8.


View from PF 6 and PF 7 looking up the Podere Funghi toward PF 8.

Last week, Dr. Frank Vento performed a series of GPR surveys in the southeastern corner of the Podere Funghi. The reason for testing this area is two fold--one being as simple as the natural rise in that corner. The other reason is the result of a walking survey that turned up an abundance of tile and pottery in that general vicinity. That walking survey, done in the spring of 2000, also found the large amount of tile that led to the location of Trench PF 5 last season. Dr. Vento found two points of large abnormality, which Michael Thomas proceeded to mark immediately. This data was soon thereafter matched up to the results of the walking survey and the location of the trench was decided.


Field Supervisor Katherine Blanchard explains how her trench, PF 8,
aligns with Trenches PF 6 and PF 7 below in the Podere Funghi.

PF 8 is therefore the result of two forms of non-intrusive testing. Neither the walking survey nor the Ground-Penetrating Radar tests disturbed the context of the natural surroundings. Both allude to a structure, perhaps domestic, in that area. It is set up as a 2.5m X 2.5m test trench, laid out on the same grid pattern as the rest of the Podere Funghi. At this point in our mini-season, we are still digging through plowzone, which past trenches prove could range anywhere from 30-50 cm. And perhaps most importantly, PF 8 is teaching us the stratigraphy of the southeastern section of this field.


View of "Katy's Dirt" in newly opened Trench PF 8.


Field Supervisor, Katherine Blanchard (left) holds her PF 8 sign up for admirers
in the pottery shed: Robert Vander Poppen, Robert Belanger, and Catherine Norman.

 

Week 6:


Katy Blanchard overseeing her trench PF 8.


Assistant Field Supervisor Jungle Boogie Monkey overseeing PF 8.

I have been lucky enough to benefit from Trench PF 7's early closure and have thusly gained a crew of four experienced excavators. They have made it possible for us to dig at an accelerated rate over this past week.


Mónica Jiménez digging through the plow zone in one locus of PF 8.


Katy Blanchard big-picking through the plow zone in the fully opened trench.

Pass 2 of plowzone was completed, taking us down to Stratum 2: here a layer of grey clay (gley). Interestingly, it did not appear to be the sterile, solid clay that often appears above bedrock. This idea was substantiated by the color our gley (it had inclusions), and also the large amount of sizeable tile fragments. All of this led to the decision to take a 15 cm pass through the gley.


Rachel Julis EXCAVATING in Trench PF 8 with Keith Doherty.

Within this pass appeared the remnants of a vineyard. An aerial photograph of the area from the 1960s illustrates that there had a been a vineyard in the Podere Funghi in the recent past. The vineyard ditch appeared as a series of small holes in the clay, approximately 40cm apart from each other, centered in a dirt area. We had a clear delineation from clay to the dirt of the vineyard ditch and then back to clay. Notably, the only "modern" find we have is a shotgun shell in our scarp.


View of Trench PF 8 from below, with swingset sifter.

Today proved to be perhaps the most interesting day in PF 8. The pass at the vineyard level was completed right before the end of the day. We had enough time to start the next pass, and within moments, rock was found. As we were possibly upon bedrock (we were 70 cm below ground level, and the average level of found bedrock is 30cm), the area was cleaned. Further excavation proved that we had a drainage channel of some sort: a shallow channel, approximately 4 cm in width and 3 in depth, with unknown length at this point, was carved into a series of rocks--not bedrock-- and the channel in turn was covered by more rocks. The clay in this new level appears to be bluer, denser, and still holding dampness. As of the end of the workday today, it was believed to be a drainage channel for the 1960s vineyard. I look forward to completing this pass tomorrow to see what the rest of the area looks like at this level.


View of Trench PF 8 with Laura Veresh, Mónica Jiménez, and Rachel Julis digging.
No one fully understands Keith Doherty's gesture. We don't know what he's doing.

This drainage channel is on line with one of the two Vento Data Anomaly points (ironically not the one in our trench) and proves to us how successful Ground Penetrating Radar can be.


Left: Keith Doherty strikes a pose at the sifter. Right: Rachel Julis resting AFTER digging in PF 8.


Laura Veresh working on the scarp in Trench PF 8.


Jungle Boogie Monkey and Katy Blanchard analyze a find and record data in the field notebook.


View across Trench PF 8 and the Field of Dreams, with Katy Blanchard and crew at work.

 

Week 7:


Katy Blanchard with Michael Thomas in the fod for bi-pod photography.

Further examination of the drainage channel on the last day of excavation (Friday) proved initial ideas correct--it was not an Etruscan drainage system, but rather one for the vineyard that we had seen in upper levels. It was most likely constructed during the 1930s. Due to the indefatigable efforts of the PF 7 crew, newly transported to the back of the field, we were able to define the ditch throughout the entire locus and were able to see how well drainage ditches were constructed during this time period. The channel, upon closer study, was 7 cm wide and 7 cm deep. All the stones were carefully placed and notched to fit together. The width of the ditch is approximately 40cm, and the length unknown, as it continues out of both the north and south ends of the trench. To the north, it crossed the Vento Data Point.


View of Trench PF 8 from the west at the end of the season.

Due to the success of Dr. Vento's GPR test on this one very large man-made anomaly, the decision was made to let me dig on Monday to take one last pass thorough the western half of the trench--under the other Vento Data Point. The idea was, with one point picking up such a large feature, the other point must have found something deeper. Monday, we made a 10cm pass through only the western half of the trench. Unfortunately, we have no conclusive evidence of anything substantial under this point. We only know that our clay was not sterile yet--we still had roof tile emerging from this level, over a meter below surface level.


Detail of the vineyard foundation ditch in Trench PF 8.

Though PF 8's season was a mere two weeks, I believe a number of things were accomplished in the completion of the trench. Most importantly, the amount of roof tile (in total, approximately 15L), both phalange and cover, prove to me without a doubt that we are close to some form of architecture. Very little pottery was found: the only notable pieces were two courseware lug handles that could actually be from two different vessels (the inclusions differed slightly, and one had a more unfired core, but the vessel itself could have been unevenly fired).


Keith Doherty, Katy Blanchard, and Rachel Julis in Trench PF 8.

Though I'm sure the drainage ditch could seem disappointing, I opine that the GPR was a success. It is also beneficial to be reminded that this field has been occupied for the past 2500 years. The ditch, in my opinion, has given us a chance to step back and refocus, while expanding our view for perhaps the first time.


Field Supervisor Katy Blanchard in PF 8 during Week 7.


Katy Blanchard explains PF 8 during final trench tours.


View from Trench PF 8 across the Podere Funghi,
Trenches PF 5, 6, and 7, and the Mugello Valley.


View from Trench PF 8 up to Poggio Colla.