GEOARCHAEOLOGICAL RECONAISSANCE AT THE POGGIO COLLA ARCHAEOLOGICAL FIELD SITE, ITALY
Professor Robert Sternberg
Department of Earth and Environment, Franklin & Marshall College

 

2009 Field Season - Report by Rob Sternberg

 


Geoarchaeologist Rob Sternberg

 


Rob Sternberg preparing a soil sample

 


Rob Sternberg placing a mold over the prepared sample

 


Rob Sternberg leveling the mold

 


Rob Sternberg squeezing plaster around the soil sample in the mold

 


Rob Sternberg noting the orientation of the sample

 


Rob Sternberg entering the site location and orientation of the sample

 


Completed samples protected by plaster for transport to a lab

 


Rob Sternberg and F&M student Ali Neugebauer set up for magnetometry

 


Ali Neugebauer using the magnetometer to collect data southeast of the arx of Poggio Colla

 

2007 Field Season - Report by Rob Sternberg
High precision magnetometry at the Poggio Colla Archaeology Field Site, Italy



Avery Cota conducts magnetic susceptibility survey in NW 3

 


Student Erin Bradley and Prof. Rob Sternberg (F&M) setting up magnotometer

Archaeological research has come to increasingly utilize the application of techniques from the natural sciences. This subdiscipline has been called archaeometry, or archaeological science (Brothwell and Pollard, 2001). Although originally used more in the domain of prehistoric archaeology, archaeometric methods have become increasingly applied in classical archaeology (McGovern, 1995). Archaeological geophysics is commonly used to locate archaeological sites and to identify structures and artifacts within sites (Gaffney and Gater, 2003; Sarris and Jones, 2000).


Erin Bradley walks a line with the instrument while Rob Sternberg supervises

The goal of my visit in 2007 was to carry out intensive magnetometry in the Podere Funghi. I spent three weeks at the site, working with Erin Bradley, F&M '09. We used a cesium vapor magnetometer interfaced with a gps receiver, and a proton precession magnetometer for a magnetic base station. Approximately 80,000 readings of the total magnetic field were made over an area of about 2.8 acres. About a dozen magnetic anomalies were tagged for future investigation as potentially archaeologically significant. One of the large survey areas, north of the road bordering the Podere Funghi, is shown in the figure. The anomaly on the left boundary of the survey area is about 450 nanoteslas (nT) in amplitude, due to a concrete pole supporting a power line. The anomaly labeled A1 is about 5 meters across, 150 nT in amplitude, and seems most promising as a possible archaeological source. A number of apparent anomalies on the right side of the diagram are very sharp with high intensities up to 3000 nT, but were due to temporary signal losses by the magnetometer. The fabric of subtle anomalies along the axis of the survey is an artifact of the direction of walking with the magnetometer. Data processing will continue in the Fall of 2007, with further surveying and ground-truthing of anomalies anticipated for the summer of 2008.

2007 Field Season:

 

Above and below: Erin Bradley and Rob Sternberg
using magnotometry in the Podere Funghi

References
Brothwell, D.R., and A.M. Pollard, 2001. Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 762 p.

Gaffney, Chris, and John Gater, 2003. Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists. Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 192 p.

McGovern, P. E., 1995. Science in archaeology: A review. American Journal of Archaeology 99, 79-142.

Sarris, A. and Jones, R.E., 2000. Geophysical and related techniques applied to archaeological survey in the Mediterranean: a review. Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 13, 3-75.
of Roman Archaeology 12, 231-236.


2006 Field Season - Report by Robert Vander Poppen

Archaeological research has come to increasingly utilize the application of techniques from the natural sciences. This subdiscipline has been called archaeometry, or archaeological science (Brothwell and Pollard, 2001). Although originally used more in the domain of prehistoric archaeology, archaeometric methods have become increasingly applied in classical archaeology (McGovern, 1995). The term geoarchaeology has often been used in a narrow sense, to refer to study of the sediments, stratigraphy, and landforms in which archaeological sites are embedded. ProfessorRobert Sternberg, a geophysicist on the faculty of Franklin & Marshall College, prefers to use the term "geoarchaeology" to refer to the application of any method from the geosciences to archaeology. In this respect, geoarchaeology becomes similar to archaeometry, because of the wide range of descriptive and analytical methods utilized in the geosciences (Goldberg et al., 2001). The best archaeometric research is done when there is close collaboration between archaeologists, who know the archaeological problems to be solved, and natural scientists, who can carry out the technical analyses. Therefore a collaboration with the staff at Poggio Colla has a very high probability of producing useful work.


Rob Sternberg taking samples from Trench PF 15 in the Podere Funghi

 


Rob Sternberg explains his project to student Fred Martino

2005 Field Season:
In the summer of 2005, Professor Sternberg focused most on the use of field geophysics to consider land use areas at the site, and to locate kilns and kiln wasters in the Podere Funghi kiln area. Fred Martino F&M '08 used F&M Marshall Scholar funds to participate in the field school and work with Professor Sternberg on his geophysical research. They focused on the use of magnetometry and magnetic susceptibility, particularly appropriate techniques to use in the Podere Funghi where pottery was produced. Kilns in particular are highly magnetic (Justin Gosses, Franklin & Marshall, carried out an earlier project on the kilns in 2002).


Katy Blanchard and Fred Martino geoprospecting in the Podere Funghi

Professor Sternberg spent 2 weeks at the site, from late June to early July. During that time he familiarized himself with the archaeology of the site, and the work that has been done so far. He supervised the geophysical work of Martino, first of all teaching him how to use the magnetometer and other equipment and then to take readings. One clear result indicated the presence of an unexcavated kiln in the Podere Funghi. Site directors can use this information as they plan future seasons. Fred Martino will prepare a research paper on his results and he will also present his results at the annual Autumn Research Fair at Franklin & Marshall in the fall of 2005.

Because the work this summer indicated that future work would be useful, Sternberg hopes to submit a proposal for a Keck Geology Consortium project at the site for the summer of 2006. If accepted, this would allow at least one F&M student and, depending on the scope of the proposal, 2-8 students and 1-2 professors from other highly slective liberal arts colleges with outstanding Geoscience departments to participate in an expanded project.

Professor Sternberg's association with Poggio Colla actually began several years ago. F&M alumnus Justin Gosses carried out archaeomagnetic measurements in Professor Sternberg's F&M lab using samples collected at Poggio Colla in 2002. Although strongly magnetized, these samples did not give a consistent reading of the paleomagnetic field. Rob Sternberg hopes to carry out some additional archaeomagnetic sampling of the kilns at the site to check this, and to see whether the kilns might accurately record the Iron Age magnetic field.

References

Brothwell, D.R., and A.M. Pollard, 2001. Handbook of Archaeological Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, 762 p.

Gaffney, Chris, and John Gater, 2003. Revealing the Buried Past: Geophysics for Archaeologists. Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 192 p.

Goldberg, Paul, Vance T. Holliday, and C. Reid Ferring, 2001. Earth Sciences and Archaeology. Kluwer Academic, New York, 513 p.

Gosses, Justin, 2002. Archeomagnetism of Poggio Colla and Podere Funghi Archaeological Sites. Franklin & Marshall College Research Fair, Fall, 2002.

McGovern, P. E., 1995. Science in archaeology: A review. American Journal of Archaeology 99, 79-142.