Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I’m sorry that I am behind in my updates!  We only have internet at the local bar (where we usually go, following dinner) but I have been logging my posts in Microsoft Word and will post them now.

New Passport from the US Embassy and new credit card from Amex.  Took the train from Rome to Campiglia Marittima and Carlo from Professor Meagale’s staff picked me up to drive me to Populonia.  Had dinner with the group then went to bed early.

A cacophony of bird noises woke me up at 6am but I struggled to get another hour of sleep.  Our typical schedule is to leave for the dig site no later than 8:15am and be set up and ready to work by 8:45am.  We take a short break around 10:30am then work until lunch at 1pm.  After lunch, we work until 5pm.

This dig site is very different from last year’s dig at the Villa.  Here, we are across the street from the Gulf of Baratti and digging in the Archaeological Park, completely out in the open with no trees for shade.  The Italian sun gets VERY hot and we apply and re-apply sunscreen at every break.  The ground seems harder to work than last year and by the end of the day, we are all exhausted and completely dirty from head to toe.

My first assignment was to work on the outer perimeter “wall” (which is the wall of the giant square hole that comprises the dig site) which involved using both the pick ax and trowel to try to making the outer wall perpendicular to the ground.  First, you need to break up some of the harder pieces with the pick ax then you go back with the trowel to “clean” and make the dig wall even.  After that, I worked in the area where the tomb collapse occurred.  There are several tombs nearby that are in tact but my group was working on an area where a tomb had either caved in or something else happened to it.  There were actually 3 different teams working on different areas around the tomb.  Earlier in the day, one of the teams had found a bronze mirror that currently cannot not be extracted because of the way the stones have eroded on and around it.  Presently, you can only observe the bronze handle sticking out of the stone. Then later this afternoon, I found a bronze ring (perfectly in tact) in the area outside the tomb.  It’s by far the coolest thing I’ve ever uncovered!  We’ll have a better look at our discoveries tomorrow when we wash the pottery and clean the ring and other artifacts.

Today, I started out on wheelbarrow duty which is a drag but we have to take turns doing it.  Then Stefano (one of the professors) asked me to re-engineer the dirt dump site (for the discarded dirt) similar to the way our dump was set up last year so we built a wall from the discarded stones and an incline for pushing the wheelbarrows to the top of the pile to deposit a dump (OF DIRT).  After the morning break, I worked around the tomb again.  There is a hole near the tomb that contains a human tibia and skull and we had to be careful to leave the bones in tact because they crumble so easily.  Yesterday, someone discovered a dagger in the same area, which was probably a grave good.  After lunch, the professors extracted the block containing the bronze mirror which was a tricky process.  It’s still encased in stone and dirt but they will try later to extract the mirror as best they can without doing further damage to it.  The mirror is likely another grave good but for a different person so we are thinking there may be another tomb.  More on that later.

Once I have a camera (again) and can take photos, I will post them to better explain the site and what we are looking for.

We had a lot of cloud cover this afternoon which was very pleasant and the work around the bones was very interesting.  We found vertebrae, a tooth and other bones but the best find was at the very end of the day when we were cleaning (sweeping) the area near the bones and uncovered a bucchero.  Apparently, a bucchero is a vessel that was only made by the Etruscans so the professors were very excited about it.  It does not seem to be a complete piece but there is a big portion of it.  However, it is cracked and will probably fall apart when all the dirt is removed.  Another project for the professors.

This is really an interesting excavation!  We have uncovered so many things in only a few days which is quite unusual for a typical dig site.  Unfortunately, we still have not had a chance to wash pottery and clean the various items uncovered so I haven't had a chance to see the bronze ring I found yesterday.  Hopefully tomorrow (along with the other artifacts.)

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