Day 10: Volterra
Today started as a late day following the people watching of the pig roast, where I was introduced to, and horrified by, Kanye West videos. We dressed in our Sunday best and trooped off to attend an Italian mass in Vescovado, unfortunately however, the mass for today had been canceled. We decided instead to load into the mighty Scujo for a trip to Volterra, a small town about an hour away. Along the journey the fierce rivalries in the Eni/Agip game, where gas stations named as such are called, reached an all time high with Mr. Lechuga eking out a victory in the end. In between looking for gas stations, we were afforded amazing views of the Tuscan countryside and its rolling hills and winding roads.
Approaching Volterra itself afforded an amazing view of the medieval walls of the town and the towering Medici fortress, which has since been converted into a prison. Volterra has seven gates into it, one of which was named the Porta Etrusco and has stood since around the third century BC. The town is typical of medieval style in its meandering streets, the longest straightway lasted maybe fifty meters. The alleyways and windows of Volterra are littered with arches, some spanning the gap between two buildings, others from one part of the same building to another.
Since we had missed mass in the morning, we decided a visit to the local Duomo was in order. The cathedral of Saint Maria Assunda features murals adorning all the walls and crests along the upper portions of the walls. From the cathedral, we marched off to the Roman Theatre ruins where the seats were clearly visible above the hill and the columns of the stage and backstage area soared in front of a forum like area, where, in classic Roman style, modern art was featured alongside the ruins.
In his anger at the selfishness of Mr. Lechuga’s archaeology processes, Joey forgot to mention that yesterday was the birthday of our esteemed Rob. He turned 17 yesterday, just as I did today. In other news, we dug quite a bit in our little trench today. It gave me a small birthday present and presented two small shards of pottery. Mr. Lechuga, thankfully, did not dash our dreams among the dirt as much today as yesterday-he only found about half a million pieces of terra cotta today. We only dug for about half a day, but apparently that was enough to keep everyone asleep when it was clearly museum time. It’s like these guys hate fun. We only had Teddy disappear once today on some adventure through Vescovado, and he left the room key with us. Progress, Teddy, progress is being made. Mr. Carroll impressed us all with his culinary skills, cooking an amazing pasta dinner with peppers and sausage. It was a great day.
Since the plants had taken enough punishment, today we broke ground. We dug our 4 by 2 meter trench using a pickaxe to break up the ground and our hands to sort through and remove the dirt. Since we only got through the topsoil for the most part, not many artifacts were expected. We found 15+ pieces of terracotta roofing tiles and a few pieces of pottery.
Mr. Lechuga discovered a disturbingly large amount of these, and we have agreed that he is the worst, simply the worst. What man in his late twenties would mercilessly dash the preverbal dreams of children into the cold hard trench? Lechuga.
Though it is hard to get past the trauma perpetrated by the monster outlined above, we had a blast! Mr. Carroll was assigned two second-year students to learn from and assist him. They are a wealth of information offering the finer points of Archeology, from how to dig properly to “Don’t step there!”
I believe I speak for us all when I type, “Tuscany is a soothing country with an atmosphere that is complex, but undeniably picturesque, encompassing striking landscape with delicious native food.” Everyday we grow into fuller people, appreciating this adventure, our loving and supportive parents, and the benevolent Imperator Carroll. All the while preparing to take Mr. Lechuga down for his unprecedented, and perturbing ability to find terracotta. After all accidents happen all the time with such sharp tools around.
Today was day two out on the site and we managed to take the transit and we laid base lines. We faced a little trouble when approaching the end of the lines when a tape measure broke. However, we managed to recover from it and clear enough foliage in order to create a clear line before weather had once again cut our work at site short. The prep work is nearly finished and I cannot wait to start working on the site tomorrow!
Day 6: First day on the Hill
Our sixth day in Italy was our first up on the hill; we started a day earlier than the college students. The first task of the day was to clear a sight line into the dense jungle brush from and old dig site to where the new one would be. Through the judicious use of shears, bow saws, and a claw like machete, we delved the twenty meters in. From there came the hard part, we had to clear out a large area to fit several four by four meter large trenches for the whole dig to use. While the forest fought valiantly, especially the vines, in the end it succumbed to defeat, by lunch we had half the area we needed cleared and the underbrush was slowly disappearing. Following a quick lunch break, we took the survey equipment up to find the exact location of the dig site in relation the zero point on the hill. Then came the rains. Washing out pathways made clearing sightlines difficult but the final nail in the coffin came from the surveyor’s need to be dry to function. Tomorrow we march against the hill once more.
Today was our fifth day in Italy. We started with a late-ish breakfast, and walked up to the magazino. The mag is a collection of everything in Poggio Civitate that is first brought to the mag, recorded into the database, and stored. Anything that isn’t in the museo is stored in the conservation room, where we went. No previous setup for the mag or the dig site had been completed yet, and we were some of the first to step in there since last summer. The stuff in the conservation room was interesting, especially the animal jaw and inscription of a name in Etruscan. Tony seemed to be able to talk about each piece for hours on end if he had them. Eventually we went up to the dig site, and looked at the places that had been dug in before, and the spot we would dig our trench. Apparently it’s normal for a group of trenches, or sometimes one single trench, to have an enormous pile of terra cotta fragments next to the trench. Mr. Carroll explained that the mag conservation room simply isn’t big enough to hold all of the terra cotta that’s found, and they aren’t really huge finds. After that, we were on our own for about 3 or 4 hours, then we watched the Italy-Uruguay World Cup game. Italy lost, unfortunately. Dinner was delicious, as usual. However on the way home I thought Mr. Lechuga was going to die from laughing too hard… No need to worry though, he’s totally okay, but still slightly giggling.
Day four blog post:
Chiusi was the place of today’s case. Though it is no Florence in regards to architecture or size, Chiusi, formerly a Roman Resort town, proudly displays a museum of equal caliber. The pieces were as pristine and diverse as it gets. From Unmatched Corinthian vases flaunting the best designs, to an in-depth look into corridor tombs and their stunning contents. Through painfully annoying questions, Mr. Carroll holds our proverbial hand as we plunge deeper into Archeology.
For the latter part of the day we played in the pool and played Ping-Pong. We have grown closer as friends, getting to know and accept each other’s “quirks”. Thus far Mr. Carroll’s patience has held, barely.
Edit- Mr. Carroll’s patience is doing fine