1996 ANNUAL REPORT
Excavations at Poggio Colla (Vicchio di Mugello)
by Gregory Warden
The site of Poggio Colla is located in
the Mugello, about twenty miles northeast of Florence. A team
of professional archaeologists and students, under the auspices
of Southern Methodist Universitys Meadows School of the
Arts, with Oberlin College and the University of Pennsylvania
Museum as sponsoring institutions, has now excavated at the site
for two seasons, during the summers of 1995 and 1996. Poggio
Colla was first excavated by Dr. Francesco Nicosia, now Superintendent
of the Archaeology of Tuscany, from 1968 to 1972. With Dr. Nicosias
permission and encouragement the SMU excavations have continued
to reveal a site that promises to contribute tremendously to
our knowledge of Etruscan Italy. Poggio Colla is particularly
important because it has undisturbed habitation layers that span
much of Etruscan history (from the 7th to the 3rd centuries BC),
well-defined fortification walls, an extensive necropolis area,
and the rare remains of an Archaic monumental building, probably
a temple. Etruscan habitation sites are uncommonEtruscan
culture is known mainly from funerary remains. Poggio Colla is
one of a handful of such Etruscan habitation sites accessible
to archaeologists today, and it is the earliest one of these
to have a temple in situ.
In this report I hope to present to you,
in an informal way, the promising results of our most recent
campaign. The excavations at Poggio Colla have turned out to
be a large-scale enterprise whose success would not have been
possible without the help of an excellent staff, headed and directed
ably by Prof. Susan Kane of Oberlin College, who served as Field
Director for the 1995 and 1996 campaigns. The staff is listed
at the end of this document, and many of the students and staff
members will be mentioned throughout this report. I am grateful
to them for their dedication and their unstinting commitment
to the project, but in order for a project such as this to succeed,
we are also dependent on a broader circle of friends and contributors,
here in the United States a well as in Italy. These many friends
are acknowledged at the end of this document, but a few deserve
special thanks and a more specific acknowledgment, most especially
Dr. Francesco Nicosia, Soprintendente Archeologico della Toscana.
Invaluable help in almost every phase of excavation and planning
has been provided by Andrea and Lorenza Santoni and the Gruppo
Archeologico of Vicchio. Funding for the excavation was provided
by the SMUs Meadows School of the Arts, thanks to its Dean,
Dr. Carole Brandt, and by the generosity of private donors, especially
Mrs. Barbara Lemmon of Dallas. A generous grant from the Samuel
H. Kress Foundation provided travel support for the three graduate
students, Ph.D. candidates at the University of Pennsylvania
and the University of Texas at Austin, who served as field supervisors.
The 1995 Season
Our first season at Poggio Colla
was brief, only three weeks in length, but did confirm the archaeological
potential of the site. That first brief season produced the remains
of monumental architecture that had first been noted by Nicosia,
architecture which seemed to be early (as early as the beginning
of the sixth century BC) and sacred in nature. We were also surprised
by the wealth of the site: we found decorated bucchero of high
quality, imported wares, and a bronze head that seems to have
broken off a votive figurine. The head was cleaned at the Gabinetto
di Restauro of the Florence Archaeological Museum and was presented
at a symposium in honor of Emeline Hill Richardson at the 1995
annual meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America in
Figure 1: Bronze head.
This head (Figure 1), which will be discussed
in detail by Susan Kane and myself in a separate publication,
is of exceptionally high quality. It dates to the late Archaic
period, ca. 500 BC, and was part of a standing male figure, either
a nude kouros or a togatus. The hair style, so carefully detailed,
is composed of a long mass of hair behind the head that is looped
over and under a double fillet that crosses over the ears. This
coiffure is vaguely reminiscent of late Archaic hair styles in
Greece and Etruria, but the exact treatment, particularly the
double fillet with its over-and-under looping, is unique.
In the 1995 season we focused on the
center and northern edge of the site where we laid out three
small trenches (Units 1-3). Although brief, only three weeks
in length, this first season managed to achieve our primary goal,
to define in broad terms the general history or chronology of
the site. We determined that the site had at least two phases.
The early phase runs from the seventh through the fifth century
BC. The second phase is approximately fourth and third century
BC in date. The fortification walls that surround the upper part
of the plateau seem to be part of this later phase. The impressive
tumulus tomb, the so-called Tumulo Barsicci, that can still be
seen on a terrace south-west of the plateau belongs to the early
phase. It now turns out that the chronology may be more complicated
than this, but the general outlines were helpful in giving us
broad ranges for the main periods of settlement at Poggio Colla.
The most important discovery of our first
season, however, was architectural. On the northern edge of the
site we continued to excavate two long walls, discovered by Nicosia,
that run in an east-west direction. The walls are over a meter
thick and fairly close together. Between the walls, and at a
deeper level, were a series of carved sandstone blocks from an
earlier phase of the site, again discovered by Nicosia. These
blocks seem to have been the crowning elements for a podium of
some kind. Most remarkable, however, was the discovery of a large
column base, again made of sandstone, just south of the south
wall in what we have called Unit 3.
Figure 2: Carved sandstone
column base in Unit 3.
The base (Figure 2) was found in a mixed
deposit that included early bucchero pottery of seventh and sixth
century date; it had been moved from its original position during
a later phase of the site, but it seemed, along with the bronze
head, an indicator that we had found a temple of early, possibly
sixth century BC, date.
The 1996 Season
One of the major questions raised
by the first season of excavation was the nature of the north
building, that is the "structure" defined by the two
east-west walls. This building seemed to belong to the later,
Hellenistic phase of the site, but the proximity of the new sandstone
column base and of Nicosias podium blocks to these seemingly
later walls also needed to be explained. We therefore concentrated
our efforts this past summer on this northern area (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Site Plan.
We continued and expanded Unit 3 at the
western end of the north "building," sank a new trench
at the eastern end (Unit 6), and also put in a large trench (Unit
8) nearer the western end. All three of these trenches can be
seen on this years site plan which has been expanded to
include the entire plateau and part of its slopes, thanks to
the efforts of our architect, Jess Galloway, and his assistant,
Dan Gonzalez, presently studying architecture at Columbia University,
who worked valiantly with a laser Total Station, despite the
difficult topography and dense brush of a forested site.
The expansion of Unit 3 to the south
and west was designed to give us a clearer picture of the area
and, we hoped, to define the western end of the north "building."
The trench was supervised by Julia Shear, a Ph.D. candidate at
the University of Pennsylvania. The bad or good news, depending
on how we look at it, is that we have not found the western end
of the two walls. Both continue to the west and are almost thirty
meters in length. Excavation in Unit 3 was particularly slow
going because the trench kept filling up with water during the
first few weeks of excavation; we had an especially wet June
in the Mugello. Also, the stratigraphy of this area is tricky;
the trench is divided into three sections by the two walls, and
each of the sections has different stratigraphy. Unit 3, which
still has not been taken down to its lowest levels, produced
some excellent early pottery. An almost complete bucchero vase
(inv. no. 96-138), quite large and of unusual shape, perhaps
a stand, was found in the southern section and emerged from conservation
at the end of the summer (Figure 4). Its restoration was tricky
because it had been smashed against the sloping bedrock, but
it was painstakingly assembled by Jane Williams, our conservator.
Having a full-time conservator on staff this summer was a godsend.
Jane was kept busy excavating tricky finds up at the site (pottery,
bronzes, and the pithos discussed below) and supervised the conservation
labs. There she worked on the more difficult projects while instructing
students and volunteers in the simpler tasks of cleaning and
Figure 4: Bucchero vase
from Unit 3.
The northern part of Unit 3, where the
ground slopes away steeply, may turn out to be the most interesting.
Here, the stratigraphy is complex, and the area seems to have
been used for agricultural purposes, for the storage of cereals
and perhaps the processing of agricultural products. The floor
levels here were littered with organic remains. Many of the seeds
were visible with the naked eye and were collected by the excavators.
Soil samples were also taken, and soil from this area and from
a similar area to the east (in Unit 6) were processed by flotation
in order to harvest paleobotanical remains. These remains will
be studied by Sarah Kupperberg, an Oberlin student, who plans
to write a thesis on the results with the advice and collaboration
of Dr. Naomi Miller, a paleobotanist at MASCA, the archeometric
research arm of the University of Pennsylvania Museum.
One of the most important discoveries
of the summer, both here and in Unit 8 as well, was the realization
that the northern wall is substantially different from the southern
wall. At first glance this may not be evident, for the walls
are roughly parallel, the foundations are approximately the same
size (over a meter thick) and both foundations are made from
similar stone rubble. The southern wall, however, is quite straight,
while the northern wall curves, as can be seen on the site plan
(Figure 3). We had also noted last year that underneath the north
wall, in Unit 3, there was a dressed block of reddish sandstone
which seemed to have a half round molding, similar but not quite
the same, as the so-called podium blocks. This year, in Unit
3 as well as Unit 8, we unearthed a series of perpendicular walls
that abut into the north wall from the north, dividing the very
northern edge of the site into compartments. These abutting walls
and the north wall, once cleaned, revealed several beautifully
dressed blocks of stone that clearly had been reused from an
earlier building at the site. Figure 5 shows one such block,
just right of center in the photograph, finished edge out with
a clear rounded curve to its profile. One part of the northern
wall, in Unit 3, even has a small dog-leg jog. All this suggests
that the northern wall may be later, and that the abutting walls
are certainly later, dating to the time when this northern edge
was turned into an industrial/agricultural zone. This confirms
Nicosias findings of what may have been a pottery kiln
on the north-eastern slope, and of an agricultural storage area
at the north central crest of the site.
Figure 5: Dressed stone
block in a wall in Unit 8.
Unit 8, directed by Margaret Woodhull,
a doctoral candidate in Art History at the University of Texas
at Austin, in fact revealed another large storage jar in one
of these northern compartments at the very northern limit of
the trench. Nicosia had already excavated one of these large
storage vessels, a pithos, and it has been restored and exhibited
in the Vicchio Museum. We found one right next to it, crushed
but still in situ, and carefully excavated by Justin Winkler
and Melissa Stoltz, SMU and Oberlin undergraduates respectively,
with the supervision of our conservator, Jane Williams, who can
be seen wrapping the large sherds of the pithos in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Jane Williams
wrapping the large sherds of the pithos.
In this instance there may very well
have been two vases, a smaller vase placed on top of the larger
pithos, perhaps serving as a temporary lid as well as a convenient
way to handle smaller quantities of whatever was being stored
in the larger vase. An exact reconstruction will have to await
the restoration of the vessels which is scheduled for next summer;
at this point, the pieces have been carefully numbered, recorded,
and stored in our facilities in the House of Giotto in Vespignano.
It will be exciting next summer for we will have the possibility
of discoveries and surprises in our conservation-processing labs
as well as on the site. One question that we hope to answer,
apart from what kind of materials were being processed and stored
in the north end of Unit 8, is why the pithos that we excavated,
as well as the one excavated by Nicosia, was found with several
terracotta wheel-shaped loom weights around it mouth. (Figure
7). These pierced terracotta disks are rather large, but they
are of a standard type know at other Etruscan sites, and can
be identified as loom weights. Here at Poggio Colla they may
have been used to wedge the large vases in place, or possibly
as spacers, to hold the superimposed vases apart. A more exact
reconstruction will have to await the restoration of the vases
and the full excavation of the area, but the wealth of paleobotanical
evidence and the other finds from the north slope will make for
interesting excavation during the next few years. The only thing
that we can be certain about at this point is that this agricultural/industrial
activity and the coeval restructuring and compartmentalization
of the north slope, belongs to the later phase of the site, to
the fourth and third centuries BC.
Figure 7: Terracotta loom
weights around the mouth of the pithos in Unit 8.
It is also becoming more and more clear
that our understanding of the site and its extraordinarily complex
stratigraphy will depend not only on careful stratigraphic interpretation
but also on a very careful analysis of wall construction, on
the decipherment of the multiple mural phases, on the "reading"
of the walls through the interpretation of the use and reuse
of architectural elements. This will be a challenging but fascinating
task of interpretation that will have to be shared by the field
supervisors, our architect, Jess Galloway, and Susan Kane and
myself. In any case, the results from Unit 8 were highly gratifying,
but here as in Unit 3 we have not reached the lower levels in
the northern part of the trench, where the bedrock slopes away
sharply and where the strata are deeper and more complex. There
is still much to be learned here and some surprises, I am sure,
await next years continuation, but the biggest surprises
of the past summer came not in Units 3 or 8, but farther to the
east, in an entirely new direction.
At this point let me back-track a little to the summer of 1995.
When we first found the large Tuscan column base in Unit 3, I
believed that we had found confirmation of Nicosias theory
that an early monumental temple had existed on Poggio Colla.
The theory was supported by other evidence as well, a female
antefix discovered as a stray find several years ago, the line
of podium blocks discovered by Nicosia between the two north
walls, and the bronze head, probably part of votive figure, found
in Unit 1 during the 1995 season. At this point the evidence
strongly supported Nicosias temple theory, but the sobering
hand of reality reached out in the fall of 1995 when I went to
the University of Texas at Austin to visit Dr. Lucy Shoe Merrit
and Prof. Ingrid Edlund-Berry. Dr. Merrit, the worlds leading
authority on architectural moldings of the Greek, Etruscan, and
Roman world, pointed out that our splendid base might very well
be a column base, as I believed, but that it was unusual for
such an early context, and that I should not rule out other possibilities,
for instance that it might have served as an altar rather than
as the base of a column. Now, an altar base is nothing to scoff
at, but it is not exactly in the same league as a temple, and
I drove back to Dallas somewhat deflated and muttering to myself.
I e-mailed Susan Kane the disappointing news, but we quickly
came to the conclusion in our correspondence that there was no
use whining and hardly much use speculating at this point. If
indeed we had a temple, then we would find more bases. Stone
architecture of this kind is difficult to eradicate. We would
just have to find other column bases in the summer of 1996.
The Area of the Podium
The fates of archaeology, or whoever
looks after this kind of thing, were kind to us in 1966. While
we were laying out and starting to dig the three major trenches,
Susan directed a small group of excavators to clear the set of
podium blocks excavated by Nicosia over twenty years ago. In
1995 we had only had time to clear one of these blocks which
we measured, documented, and then re-buried. Now we wanted to
document all of them, to get some sense of their placement and
relationship to the two north walls, and to prepare the blocks
for study by Prof. Ingrid Edlund-Berry who was planning to visit
at the end of June to study these architectural blocks. The blocks
were re-excavated, cleaned, and documented. They are impressive,
large sandstone blocks of two types, flat blocks without moldings
that we have dubbed "pavers," and blocks with a large,
beautifully carved half-round molding that seem to have crowned
a podium or some other large structure. These blocks were found
in a line between the two north walls, but at a lower level,
as if toppled off one of the walls. They seem to belong to the
earlier phase of the site, and their alignment has led me to
wonder if the destruction of the earlier phase was not deliberate,
if some of the more monumental elements might not have been deliberately
buried, a kind of ritual dismantling that sometimes occurs at
Figure 8: Upside down column
base in the foundation trench of a wall.
The biggest surprise in clearing this
area, however, came when we cleaning around one of the podium
blocks. Just a few centimeters below the plastic sheeting that
Nicosia had put down to mark the lowest level of his excavation
we came upon a rounded stone block embedded underneath the footing
of the northern wall. This block, on further cleaning, turned
out to be yet another Tuscan column base, this time upside down,
flipped into the foundation trench of the wall (Figure 8). Because
we were not prepared to dismantle the north wall, we left the
base in situ, but we now had proof that a series of blocks existed.
The new base is larger and of different profile than the base
we found in 1995. Most important, its location is clear proof
that the colonnaded building to which it belonged predates the
building of the north wall. Presumably this column base was part
of the same archaic monumental complex as the podium blocks and
the reused blocks in the walls of Units 3 and 8. The exact date
of this early phase, or possibly even more than one phase, still
eludes us as does the original location of the monumental building.
We hope to find out more about the buildings location next
summer, but there are a few clues. A magnetometer prospection
of the hilltop done in 1995 indicated the possibility of walls
running in a north-south direction, aligned with the cardinal
points rather than the axes of the hilltop. In the southern part
of Unit 8 we found two massive squared blocks of stone, again
aligned north-south that may be part of the original footings
for a very large structure (Figure 9).
Figure 9: Massive squared
blocks of stone in Unit 8.
This is all tantalizing evidence,
but it is still too early to be certain. We have yet to find
the any of the early monumental architecture in situ, even in
Unit 6 where another surprise awaited us. Unit 6 was supervised
by Michael Thomas, a graduate student at the University of Texas
at Austin, who was assisted by Abbi Holt, a student at the University
of Virginia. Here we hoped to define the eastern end of the two
north walls. Almost immediately, just below the surface, we found
more monumental architecture, yet another Tuscan column base.
This base is very large, about a meter in diameter with a broad,
fatter profile to its half round than the 1995 base (Figure 10).
We thought at first that the base might still be in situ for
it sits even to the ground level and is aligned with three molded
blocks of the kind that we have called podium blocks. Another
large block, this one of the kind that we have called a paver,
is aligned with it, forming a right angle. Here, we thought as
these elements were emerging, we finally had our monumental building,
Figure 10: Large column
base, podium blocks, and small base (possibly an altar) in Unit
Even though we have yet to finish excavating
in Unit 6, it looks as if the original placement of the building
may still elude us. The three podium blocks do not have the same
profile as the blocks excavated by Dr. Nicosia. But most important,
the elements are in the wrong stratum, close to the surface,
in the context of the later, Hellenistic phase of the site. There
are archaic strata here in Unit 6, but they are father down,
and we have yet to reach those levels. It may be premature to
speculate, but my guess would be that these blocks were placed
here to serve as a foundation for the continuation of the southern
of the two walls. As can be seen on the plan, the northern wall
continues to the east (and its terminus has yet to be excavated)
while the southern wall ends abruptly while its axis is continued
by the large block and column base. One of our priorities in
1997 will be to continue Unit 6 to the south, to see what happens
to the line of podium blocks, as well as to excavate the lower
strata of the trench.
One of the more tantalizing areas of
Unit 6 is the area immediately north of the long "paver"
block where we found a carved circular stone that resembled a
small base. (It can be seen clearly in the photograph on the
cover of this report.) The base is worked, rounded on all sides,
but too small to be a column base. I have wondered if it might
not be a small altar, for packed around it is a heavy burned
layer that still awaits excavation. While excavating this burned
layer we found a fragment of a bucchero vase (inv. # 96-251),
probably a cup, decorated on its inner surface with superimposed
palmette and animal friezes (Figure 11). Unfortunately, only
the upper part of one of the animals is preserved.
Figure 11: Fragment of
bucchero vase decorated with palmette and animal friezes, found
in Unit 6.
Unit 6 has also provided us with clues
about the chronology of the later phase of the site and its destruction.
In the heavy tile and burn layer in the upper part of the trench
we found two bronze coins. Both were heavily corroded but one
was identifiable after cleaning. Its obverse has a profile head
of the goddess Athena facing left; the reverse has a standing
rooster. The coin was minted in southern Latium or Campania in
the second quarter of third century BC. Unfortunately the reverse
inscription, which would identify the city, is obscured, but
the candidates are cities like Aquinium, Cales, Suessa Aurunca,
and three or four other cities in the region. This coin confirms
our suspicion that the site was destroyed near the end of the
third century BC, probably due to Roman conquest of the region.
The site seems to have been dismantled and the inhabitants moved
to the valley below, to modern Vicchio whose name can be traced
back to the Latin "vicus" or "town." This
seems to have been a normal procedure during the conquest and
Romanization of Etruria. Supporting this theory is the fact that
the latest datable pottery from the site is 3rd-century-BC Black
Glaze ware of the "Petites Estampilles" type, another
import from the south, either from Latium or southernmost Etruria.
Other areas of excavation
About halfway through our season
we decided that we had the time and the manpower to expand Unit
1 which had been excavated in 1995. This trench had been sunk
in the very center of the plateau to provide us with a sense
of the sites stratigraphy. As we were closing down the
trench in 1995, while cleaning the western scarp, we discovered
the bronze head discussed above (Figure 1). The possibility existed
that rest of the figurine might be nearby, or, even more important,
that we might find out something about its original context.
We therefore dug out part of Unit 1 and expanded the trench to
the west (designated as Unit 1, Extension A). The results were
mixed. We did not find the rest of the figurine, but we did come
up with some intriguing finds that will lead us to continue excavation
in this area next season. We found a few more pieces of bronze,
although in unrecognizable form, but more interesting was a beautifully
finished stone disk which will have to undergo conservation next
summer. Near it was a terracotta disk which seems to have been
the base of a vase, neatly broken all the way around. Again,
it is too early to make much of this, but the finds are tantalizing.
Somewhat less successful was our foray
on the nearby hill of Montesassi where we had applied for a permit
to survey and to clean out a cistern and spring on the north-west
slope. Montesassi is an extraordinarily interesting hilltop that
has a majestic view of the entire Mugello basin. There are 19th
and early 20th century notices of archaeological finds in this
region, and most intriguing is the fact that in the 19th century
there were visible remains of stone monuments in this area that
may date back to the bronze age. Much of the hill is now covered
with dense brush and forest, but we hope to survey the area,
and Susan Kane is particularly interested in documenting and
studying the many quarry pits, most of which seem of recent date,
that lie between Poggio Colla and Montesassi. The cistern that
we excavated was important because we are especially interested
in documenting the water sources in the area and because springs
often were related to cult in ancient Etruria. One of the more
interesting aspects of the entire Montesassi-Poggio Colla area
is that there are large rocks that rise out of the natural bedrock
forming small cliff faces, and that these faces often have large
niches carved into them. The cistern that we excavated is cut
into one of these natural rock faces, and the area in front of
the face has been carved out to form a basin. The excavation
of this area proved particularly difficult. It was supervised
by Susan Kane who was assisted by Prof. Donald White, University
of Pennsylvania, and Andrea Santoni, Director of the Gruppo Archeologico
of Vicchio. The surface debris, accumulated sediments, and mud
were cleared from the entrance to the spring, but unfortunately
the spring itself, underneath the rock face, is still clogged
from disuse, and there are significant rock spills in the area
that prevent going deeper without heavy equipment.
I have been amazed at the amount of architecture
produced in just two seasons of excavation. Etruscan architecture
is rare, and temple architecture of early date exceedingly so.
In the spring of 1995, just before our first season at Poggio
Colla, I visited the University of Texas at Austin where I met
with Lucy Shoe Meritt and Ingrid Edlund-Berry. I told them about
our excavation plans, and as I was leaving Dr. Meritt's house
she wished me luck and, almost as an after-thought, asked me
to find her some new moldings. I laughed and said that I would
try, but I certainly did not think that new monumental architecture
was even a possibility. Dr. Meritt's request, however, has been
fulfilled, and I can't help but think that her invocation brought
us good fortune. I recently met with Dr. Meritt again to show
her photographs of our two new bases, the new podium blocks,
and the blocks that were reused in the later phase of the north
slope. We seem to have two types of podium blocks; the three
new blocks in Unit 6 have a broader profile to their half round
than the blocks excavated by Dr. Nicosia. We also have two types
of column bases; the two new ones are larger and once again have
a fatter or broader profile to the top round. We may have two
buildings, for instance an altar as well as a temple, or at the
very least two phases of building. Again, what is remarkable
is the amount of material as well as the variety of forms. Dr.
Meritt pointed out that our site now has the best opportunity
of any to provide new blood for the corpus of moldings on which
she and Ingrid Edlund-Berry are working.
Excavation is producing so much ceramic
material that storage is already becoming a problem. Much of
the material is coarse ware, utilitarian pottery, whose study
will be important for the history of the region. A regional ceramic
typology from Early Iron Age to the Hellenistic period remains
one of our goals. Other goal are the study of production technology,
the determination of material sources, and differentiation of
local and imported wares. While study of the ceramics from the
full range of the site's history is important, what is becoming
increasingly apparent as excavation progresses is the exceptional
quality of the early material, especially the Orientalizing and
Archaic bucchero (7th-6th centuries BC).
Figure 12: Griffin on a
bucchero rim fragment decorated with a frieze of fantastic animals.
One of the finest pieces is the bucchero
sherd reproduced in Figure 11, but other decorated pieces have
been found. A bucchero rim fragment (Inv. no. 189) was decorated
with a frieze of fantastic animals; particularly well preserved
is a griffin striding to the left with one of its front legs
raised (Figure 12). Other fragments are beautifully incised:
illustrated in Figure 13 is a bucchero rim fragment, joined from
two pieces, from a cup (Inv. no. 96-113).
Figure 13: Joined pieces
of a bucchero rim fragment decorated with incised six-petal roses.
The interior of the cup was decorated
with crisply incised six-petal rosettes. Another important fragment
is a wing handle of a bucchero skyphos or two-handled cup (inv.
no. 96-283). In this case the horizontal handle is decorated
by means of geometric cut-out decoration (Figure 14).
Figure 14: Fragment of
the wing handle of a bucchero skyphos or two-handled cup.
These three pieces illustrate the kind
of range of decoration found on our late Orientalizing bucchero:
stamping, incision, and cut-outs. Of these three techniques,
stamped decoration seems to be the most popular, and the love
of stamped motifs parallels the kind of pottery decoration found
at the nearby site of San Piero a Sieve. Stamped decoration can
also be found on coarser pottery and on some utilitarian objects.
This past summer we found two stamped rocchetti, terracotta spools.
One of these rocchetti (Inv. 96-17) is decorated with a horned
animal, a goat or a deer (Figure 15). The other (Inv. no. 96-10)
has an unusual swastika motif made up of two intersecting S-shaped
bands (Figure 16). Considering the fact that we have not fully
excavated the three trenches begun this summer, that the early
strata are mostly untouched, the wealth of this early material
Figure 15: Rochetto with
horned animal (left). Figure 16: Rochetto with swastika motif
We have undertaken an ambitious, multi-disciplinary
program of research at Poggio Colla. Success of future campaigns
will depend on the coordination of these research programs, and
this very important area will be supervised by Susan Kane while
I undertake to oversee the actual field work at the site. The
nature and scope of these programs, which I think are impressive,
will be discussed below by Susan and Karen Vellucci of the University
of Pennsylvania Museum.
We are also fortunate that we are receiving
support and encouragement from the people of Vicchio. The Comune
of Vicchio has loaned us the use of the upper floor of the House
of Giotto, that artist's house and birth place in nearby Vespignano.
We have set up research labs, processing areas, and conservation
facilities there, not far from our main excavation house. Next
summer this important component of the excavation will be supervised
by Karen Vellucci. I cannot overemphasize the contribution to
our project of Andrea and Lorenza Santoni. Their energy and enthusiasm,
as well as their deep knowledge of the region, are an inestimable
resource. This past summer I was asked to present two lectures
on our recent archaeological work in Vicchio, one sponsored by
the Comune and the other at the Associazione "il Paese"
which hosted a wonderful dinner for us. I was heartened by the
positive response and by the dialogue that ensued. The rich archaeological
and cultural heritage of the Mugello is an important resource
that needs recognized, valued, and protected. It is also in some
ways an endangered resource, and one of the best suggestions
made during the after-lecture discussion was that the oral history
of the region needs to be recorded and preserved. Some of this
oral history would have a specific relevance to our archaeological
The excavation is so young that it may
be premature to discuss publication plans, but it is important
to any research project to consider publication from the very
beginning. Prof. Paolo Canuti, of the University of Florence,
and Dr. Dario Monna, National Research Council of Italy, will
participate in the annual AIA meetings in New York in December
of 1996. Susan Kane and I will also present a summary of recent
work at Poggio at those same meetings. Susan has also been working
on some of the earlier finds from the site; she and Andrea Santoni,
with the help an architect who visited last summer, Jerry Swendsen,
have been working on the reconstruction of an extraordinary roofing
system that may have covered the early tumulus, the so-called
Tumulo Barsicci. Susan presented a paper on this topic, entitled
"An Archaic Tumulus: Old and New Evidence from the Poggio
Colla Necropolis," at Experientia Docet, a Symposium in
honor of Lucy Shoe Merrit held at the University of Texas at
Austin in September of this year. I had the honor of presenting
a paper, at this same symposium, entitled "Excavations at
the Etruscan Site of Poggio Colla: Fiesole and the Cultural Geography
of the Mugello Valley."
Although we have barely scratched the
surface at Poggio Colla, we are planning an ambitious research
project of wide methodological range that will take up over at
least five to ten years of concentrated effort. We hope to keep
you abreast of what happens, year by year, through the publication
of reports such as this one, through the issue of yearly CD-ROMS
on the site, and through the maintenance of a World Wide Web
site. Our commitment to using current technologies for the dissemination
of information included having our web site updated on a regular
basis during the summer of 1996. We are, I believe, the first
major archaeological excavation to do this, and the success of
this first attempt at interactive excavation is due to the continuing
contribution of our Information Technologist, Dr. Sam Carrier
of Oberlin College.
As I stated in last year's report, our
project has three major goals, research, pedagogy, and outreach,
and we take all three of these areas seriously. I am happy to
report that our field school this year was a resounding success
in no small measure to the exceptional quality of our students,
as well as to the dedication of our staff. Our expectations were
high. We expected our students to learn the physical side of
archaeology, the actual excavation process which naturally includes
much more than just digging, as well as the theory of archaeology,
and the historical and art historical contexts of the Etruscan
world. We therefore had an ambitious lecture schedule that included
presentations by me, Susan Kane, and other members of the staff,
as well as distinguished visiting scholars such as Professors
Ingrid Edlund-Berry and Donald White. It is hard to listen to
lectures, and to read and study, after a day of physically and
mentally demanding labor. I am grateful to so many people for
the success of the past season, but most of all I am thankful
for the quality, intelligence, and humor of our students, many
of whom, I hope, will continue in Mediterranean archaeology.
PARTICPANTS IN THE 1996
Prof. Gregory Warden
Southern Methodist University
Prof. Susan Kane
Booziotis & Co., Architects
Prof. Sam Carrier
Kathy Windrow, MA, MFA
Jane Williams, MA
Karen Vellucci, MA
University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Donald White
University of Pennsylvania
Prof. Ingrid Edlund-Berry
University of Texas at Austin
Prof. Paolo Canuti
Prof. Frank Vento
Dr. Jon Berkin
Dr. Dario Monna
National Research Council, Italy
Dr. Ivo Brunner
National Research Council, Italy
Graduate Students and Returning
University of Pennsylvania
University of Texas at Austin
University of Texas at Austin
Southern Methodist University
University of Chicago
University of Pennsylvania
University of Virginia
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
Southern Methodist University
University of Virginia
George Washington University
Savannah College of Art
University of Texas at Austin
University of Puget Sound
Master of Liberal Arts Students,
Cover. View of Unit 6 from the west.
Figure 1. Bronze head found in 1995 (Inv.
Figure 2. The sandstone base discovered
in 1995. (Inv. no. 95-100).
Figure 3. The 1996 site plan.
Figure 4. Bucchero vase (stand?) found
in the south section of Unit 3. Inv. no. 96-138.
Figure 5. Wall in north end of Unit 8
showing re-used block.
Figure 6. The conservator, Jane Williams,
wrapping the pithos in Unit 8.
Figure 7. The top of the pithos in situ
with loom weights.
Figure 8. The new column base (#2) in
situ under the north wall.
Figure 9. The south end of Unit 8 showing
the two blocks that may form part of a foundation for a monumental
Figure 10. View of Unit 6 from the east
showing the new column base (#3) and the three new podium blocks.
Figure 11. Bucchero fragment from Unit
6. Inv. no. 96-251. Width: 0.032 m.
Figure 12. Bucchero fragment with stamped
decoration. Inv. no. 96-189. Length: 0.038 m.
Figure 13. Bucchero rim fragment with
incised decoration. Inv. no. 96-113. Length: 0.094 m.
Figure 14. Bucchero handle with cut-out
decoration. Inv. 96-283. Width: 0.051 m.
Figure 15. Terracotta rocchetto with
stamped decoration. Inv. 96-17. Diameter: 0.031 m.
Figure 16. Terracotta rocchetto with
stamped decoration. Inv. no. 96-10. Diameter 0.030 m.
Donors and Supporters:
I am most grateful to
Dr. Carole Brandt, Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, SMU,
for her enthusiastic encouragement and support. Many of my colleagues
and friends in the Meadows School, too numerous to mention, should
also be thanked for their interest and support. I am also grateful
to Dr. Ben Wallace, Office of International Programs, SMU, and
his excellent staff, for his help in allowing us to run our field
school through his office.
We also wish to acknowledge
the support of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, which provided
a grant for the transportation expenses of the three graduate
students who served as field supervisors. The Poggio Colla excavation
project is also sponsored by Oberlin College and by the University
of Pennsylvania Museum. We are grateful to Dr. Jeremy Sabloff.
the Charles K. Williams II Director of the University Museum.
Major funding was also provided by Mrs. Barbara Lemmon of Dallas.
Our many friends and
supporters in Italy should also be mentioned. First of all, Dr.
Francesco Nicosia, Soprintendente Archeologico della Toscana,
without whose prescience, knowledge, and support this excavation
would never have taken place, and Dr. Carlotta Cianferoni, Archaeological
Inspector for the region. Andrea and Lorenza Santoni, their family,
and the Gruppo Archeologico di Vicchio, have done so much to
help us that it would take another volume to thank them properly.
We also wish to thank the Mayor of Vicchio, Alessandro Bolognesi,
the Cultural Assessor, Bruno Becchi, for all they have done for
this project, the firm "Rosari Romano" for the loan
of a storage shed, and the Associazione "il Paese"
for hosting a lecture and dinner for the excavation staff. There
many other friends who have helped us in so many ways: Giuseppe
Ancarani, Luca and Monica Cateni, and Filippo Viola come immediately
to mind. Dr. Mario Cyegelman and Dr. Mario Iozzo, of the Gabinetto
di Restauro of the Soprintendenza Archeologica in Florence, have
also assisted us greatly with conservation of the bronze head
and the column base excavated in 1995.
1997 Annual Report
1998 Annual Report
1999 Annual Report