Palio and Archaeology

Apologies for not posting yesterday, but yesterday was a big day. The first half of the day consisted of continuing the excavation of our trenches. With the exception of terracotta, nothing special was found. However, the suspected wall did become more defined. After work we cleaned up and drove towards Siena to see il Palio, or at least a practice run. Il Palio, translated as the banner, is a horse race in which ten of seventeen of Siena’s contradas, or factions, compete to win a banner to hang in their local church as a symbol of pride. Massive amounts of money are spent by the contradas to hire the best jockey, bribing other jockeys, and sponsoring contrada dinners. We only went to a practice race but il Compo was flooded with spectators, many of whom wore a banner of their contrada on their back. Before the race, the locals segregated into their respective group and chanted taunting songs to each other. And after half an hour in delays, the race began. The race itself was thrilling especially seeing the horses so close. Immediately after the race, one member of a contrada insulted another about the race and moments later they jumped out of their stands yelling and approaching each other. Some men tried to stop them but their were at least 30 of them on either side. Soon the contradas of Owl and Unicorn clashed into a street brawl. Mr. Carroll immediately led us out of the piazza. Once we were at dinner he explained to us how important il Palio is to the people of Siena and that it isn’t just a show for tourist. He didn’t expect one of the practice races to get so crazy. Today we woke up and went straight to the hill. Again we were moved into new trenches. Emma and I moved into relatively sterile trenches whereas Matt was moved to the trench with a well in it. Just today, they found enough pottery to fill fourteen milk cartons! The last two days have been an experience.

-Rudy

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