Yay for Friday

Yay for Friday! We started off by waking up just a tad bit late (I mean, the girls room was freezing and we were tired, so can you blame us?) and heading out of the house to eat breakfast with the rest of the dig for the first time. Breakfast was similar to what we’ve been having for the last week: fruit, yogurt, coffee etc (although one guy brought peanut butter and I was extremely jealous-I had sadly forgotten mine). Afterwards we set off on the long trek up the hill, which was much easier considering we didn’t have to carry up huge water buckets and stadia rods. A quick side note: Coco did have a bit of an injury on the way up the hill (holes are tricky little devils), but it was minor and she was back on her feet shortly after. 

As you have heard already, we found Locus 2 just the day before, so our task was to make everything look nice and neat, but realistic, and take pictures of the trench (lovingly named Trenchetta). Then, to my dismay, after having so carefully cleaned everywhere and being extra careful of where we stepped, Mr.Carroll informed us that we would be continuing digging, which meant the smooth surface we had cleaned had to once again be tore up and sorted.

Oh, and dirt can be clean. A different connotation of clean, sure, but clean nonetheless. And we pride ourselves on keeping that dirt ACAP (as clean as possible)

In sorting Locus 2, we found the bow of a fibulae (when you think fibulae, think glorified safety pin), a piece of ridged pottery, and a tack head. Bones and plenty of terracotta also came up, but the things previously mentioned are classified as special finds. But, what we found the most of…

Was dirt. Heh, sorry. Other than dirt, we found lots of tree roots (due to the lovely tree in our trench) and rocks, large rocks. We had lunch, with salami and cheese sandwiches and apples (I have yet to eat a food in Italy that I haven’t loved). After lunch we came back to Trenchetta, and starting (a surprise to everyone) digging. As more and more rocks came up in our digging, all of the sudden we came upon Locus 3 (Yay!!). We ended our day by clearing a bit of dirt up to take pictures for Locus 3 in the morning.

We walked down the hill, thankfully, into the car to get gelato. It.was.amazing. The best gelato, I think we can all agree, we’ve had so far. A quick trip to restock on groceries, and we went home to run through showers.

Future plans include: wifi, relaxing, dinner, and more relaxing/getting ready for the day tomorrow. Love to all, and talk to you tomorrow ❤

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Yay For Dirt!

Mom, remember when the neighbors were doing a bunch of landscaping in their backyard and it was pretty much all dirt and I would go over there and dig in the mud when I was little?  Remember how I would come home, covered head to toe in a layer of dirt so thick you could not even see my skin?  Remember how you would make me wash off with the hose outside, telling me that my constant digging and playing in the neighbor’s yard did not actually help anyone?  Well, I must respectfully disagree with that statement.  Today has been nothing but dirt, dirt, dirt, and more dirt.  Of course there were a few bits of terra cotta mixed in there that we found and even a bronze flake and implement of some sort.  But more on those later.  I guess I should probably start at the beginning…

We woke up at a seemingly ungodly hour for breakfast, while I silently cursed myself for staying up until midnight to read.  Okay, it probably was not as silent as I had thought at the time (Dad, stop laughing, at least it was not four in the morning this time and was still dark outside).  After a nice meal of yogurt, granola, and fruit,  we started the long, grueling trek to the site.  In all reality, it’s really only a 1.8 mile hike, but it seems a lot longer when in the middle of it on a very hot morning.  It also happens to be all uphill, which isn’t bad in some spots, but others can be a little steep and can tend to be dotted with more than a few thorn bushes.  Also, a note on thorn bushes, don’t walk directly into, because they will latch on to you and never let go.  Something we have all learned the hard way.  While this small bit of information may seem completely obvious, you have yet to encounter these particular bushes, they happen to be masters of disguise.  Okay, back to the dig.  We got to the top of the site and began to settle into our routine of attacking our plot of dirt with a pick axe, shoveling the loose dirt into buckets, sorting through the dirt to find chunks of terra cotta (mostly we found rocks), and then wheeling the, now useless, dirt off to the dirt dump.  After we finished one cycle, it was time to begin anew.  By the way, pick axes are a great way to get your back muscles exceptionally sore (I don’t think I’ve been this sore since, well, ever).  You know that feeling you get when you are just so sore, even thinking about moving can physically hurt, but at the same time, the work you were doing was so gratifying that you don’t care at all?  That’s this exact feeling.  

Before I go into the details about the digging process, I should probably explain where on the site we are.  Our plot of dirt is the exact location where a dirt dump from a few years ago once sat.  A dirt dump is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a big pile of dirt where archeologists will send the soil they dig up after it has been sorted through.  Over the course of the season, a dirt dump will end up being a massive mound, accumulating dirt from the surrounding trenches.  This being the case, we were not fully expecting to find anything monumental, as people should have already sorted through the soil and picked out what was important.  Of course, we still managed to find vitrified terra cotta bits (evidence of fire working), pottery pieces, brick pieces, a sheep’s tooth, a bronze flake, and a small bronze implement that could have gone to a larger artifact.  While these finds are cool, they are also very frustrating.  The fact that they were in a dirt dump means that some one had not been careful when sorting previously and had let those pieces slip through.  This is maddening because all archeological narratives are based on where artifacts are found, what they are found with, and what they may or may not have been used for.  What we found today have not context at all, having come from different trenches several years old, making it impossible to create a narrative.  This made Mr. Carroll very frustrated, as meticulous as he is.  It took us almost all day for us to get through the dirt dump and make it to the ground level of the trench, clearing locus one (a locus is a term used for different sections of the trench based on soil type).  Once we had gotten past the old dump, we began forming the bulk walls of our trench and clearing the bottom of any loose soil, making it possible for us to begin on locus two tomorrow.  As three thirty rolled around, we had formed two of our bulk walls, cleared the top of locus two, and found quite a few interesting pieces of terra cotta, pottery, and bronze (along with a bunch of cool rocks).  All in all, it seemed to be a pretty good day.  While we are all exhausted and sore, we are excited to get started on our next day.  

Broken Ground!

Ciao Tutti!!  

Ms. Gorman and Ms. Cordia reporting!  We figured we’d take a break from our regularly scheduled ‘Cow-Deer’ game to write to you all.  Today was a very productive, long, and dirty day.  We started with our normal breakfast at the apartment of yogurt and fruit and then made the long trek up to site (1.8 miles to be exact).  The students conquered the hill while Ms. Cordia and Ms.  Gorman made it up…eventually…  

Our dig day continued on as yesterday had, setting up the grid and clearing the excavation area of vegetation.  The students were excited to be right back in the thick of it clearing away space with machetes and hand saws (don’t worry they were supervised!). Right before lunch we delineated the extent of our trench and set up the baselines.  Our trench is situated in the space between the buildings of EPOCH 4 (Early Phase Orientalizing Period) and the ‘non elite’ structures to the west (from the Orientalizing).  Our question for this excavation season centers around 1. trying to learn more about the relationship between the ‘non elite’ structure to the west and the buildings of EPOCH 4 2. To understand better the development of the area around the well that was excavated last year.  After the trench was marked out the students learned how to take elevations and then it was time for lunch. 

 With our bellies full of food and our energies renewed we headed back to the trench and broke ground!  Mr. Carroll gave the group a tutorial on how to wield a pick axe and then Kianna and Corinne showed us how it really ought to be done.  After a round of pick axing, the group cleared away the dirt looking for finds but so far we’ve only come away with rocks.  We headed from site down to the Magazzino where the teachers built some more shelves and the students cleaned and sorted artefacts.   All in all it was a busy busy day.  According to my step counter we walked almost 6 miles, still not our high 9.25 miles in Siena but close!  

First Day of the Dig 

The life of an archaeologist is rarely one of distinction, but it should be.  The people who study the past can often predict the future.  The study of archaeology is more than that of pulling ancient rock out of the ground, it is a study of the human condition.  How can we know ourselves without studying the lives of those who came before us?  Beyond that, I do believe that most people cannot fathom the amount of work that goes into making a simple trench.  There is a large amount work that goes into the preparation of a dig site, which surprisingly, involves math (go figure).  Today we battled the greenery of an Italian forest, along with some very pesky bugs, in order to set up a grid  so that we may start digging at some point tomorrow.  Using a surveyor (Mr. Carroll) a squadron of plant clippers (us kids) and a lot of groaning, we were able to push back plant life from what is steadily becoming our dig site.  Plants with thorns are abundant in our Italian forest, and this would be fine if it were not for the fact that our dig site is surrounded by these painful plants.  Barbed and at the ready, these plants left no one unscathed.   What the plants could not accomplish, the sun and bugs did.  Let it suffice to say that most of us are considerably itchier than we were before our time today at the dig.  All of these things aside, I had a great time.  We are slowly to but surely turning our lot into a family, our condo into a home, and our work into a passion.                   Ciao,

Michael Corigliano

(Love you mom and dad!)

Chiusi with a “C”

Hello. Bri here. A quick side note to my family: I am alive and well, and Italy, as I’m sure you’ve read in my friends’ posts, is quite a sight to behold. 

I woke up this morning to the cold surroundings of the girls’ bedroom, which I have done surprisingly for the entirety of this trip. (You know the moment that you realize that everywhere outside of the warm cocoon you’ve put yourself in will be extremely cold, even the rest of your bed? Yeah, that moment.) After stumbling around the house getting ready for the day at a solid hour of 7:45, we ate, and set off on the hour and a half drive to Chiusi.

*fun fact: Chiusi is pronounced with a hard -c, while a word like Civitate is pronounced with a -ch* Sorry, I’m just a bit of a nerd.

Our drive to Chisui was full of mixed things. Some slept, others read and/or listened to music and enjoyed the scenery, and others (cough cough our lovely teachers cough) played the infamous game of Cow-Deer, now with Rooves! Since I was one of the people who looked out the window for an hour and a half, lemme tell you about it. The road was curvy, the hills were rolling, and no matter where we go, I swear, there is no traffic ever, nothing that compares to Colorado at least. What I first thought to be grass that just happened to be different colors, was actually wheat…and something else but I am, sadly, not a grain expert. The pure size of them was astounding, and they stretched for miles in every direction (or should I say kilometers?) We passed by a couple of small towns that somehow looked both different and similar at the same time; each having their own separate feel, yet if you had placed them side-by-side, they could form a singular, cohesive city. 

Now Chiusi was a quaint little thing. We parked and walked up to the Estrucan Museum of Chiusi, modeled after a typical Etruscan temple, complete with pillars and statues. Inside the museum was, in my opinion, the best we’ve seen so far. All of the cases were organized by time period, all of the descriptions had both Italian and English translations, and were somewhat organized by where they were found. Mr. Carroll had us do an activity called “create a narrative” (which was first mentioned in the wonderful talk given by Tony the day previous) on an item of our choosing. This activity was extremely helpful and it helped me realize that I wasn’t as out-of-my-depth as I thought I was. We took a tour of the rest of the museum and its counterpart in the building beside it. Afterwards we had a lovely picnic in the park and (by the power of the nature gods) it started raining once we headed back to the car. As we drove it stopped raining, so we popped into Siena again for an hour and got some lovely items (sorry parents I am not going to ruin the surprise for you). Siena was just as beautiful as it was the first time we saw it. A quick trip to the grocery store for cookies-amongst other things I assure you- and settled in for some relaxing time before dinner.

Hint: dinner was a phomonenal mushroom risotto prepared by Mr. Carroll and stirred by Coco and Kiana. 

Now we’re back to relaxing and readying ourselves for the first day on the dig tomorrow (yay!). We will definitely let you know how that goes. I hope you’re enjoying reading about our trip as much as we are enjoying being here. Grazie mille.

Discoveries

Today a discovery was made. No, I am not speaking of a new invention or a new area unbeknownst to the typical man, but rather I refer to the most ancient of artifacts. At this point a thought may be running through your head. This thought is most likely along the lines of ,”What sort of Etruscan artifact did the group discover today?” The answer to that would be many, but I speak of a different discovery. This discovery is of an ancient civilization thousands of years old.

If you were to ask Mr. Carroll after he read the first paragraph, he may believe I speak of the terracotta tiles we sorted through in the Magazzino of Poggio Civitate. I must admit this was a very exciting portion of the day. After uncovering the shelves, setting up shelves and tables, and cleaning of the dirty mess that has accumulated from last year’s dig – a mess full of spiders, spiderwebs, dirt, trash, and decayed frog carcasses,- we got the opportunity to scour various boxes full of terracotta roof tiles found in the well from last summer’s excavation. Much of our time was spent examining these pieces to the smallest detail in order to put them together like a puzzle. Corinne did this fantastically as she was the first to find matching pieces and, aided by Michael, Kiana, Bri, and myself, was able to put together several others. The fact that we found matching pieces came as a shock to me. There were hundreds of broken roofing tiles so I never expected such a find! While delving into an ancient civilization by examining the beauty of everyday lives, our chaperones groaned away while tightening bolts on shelves for several hours whilst sitting on the cold hard ground. In a sort of cruel way the differences in our situations were very enjoyable.  So, the Etruscan tiles we sorted through may have been a fun discovery, it is still not what I speak of.

If Ms. Cordia was asked of the discovery I have discussed, she may believe it to have been the excellent speech given by Tony, a professor at the University of Massechusets who helps run the program. In the poorly lighted, mold covered corner of the Magazzino, he gathered our Regis Jesuit group and delivered a promising address. In the end, he discussed how our trip will be both deeply profound and extremely shallow. Yes, we may discover the truth and wonder in our lives through the process of examining past life, but we also must stop and appreciate how objectively awesome these objects truly are. This brief speech by Tony was a highlight of the day, but it was hardly the brilliant discovery that I made in the wee hours of the morning. 

If the question of the discovery was raised to Ms. Gorman, she may make an educated guess that it occurred in the museum in the city of Murlo. There we discovered more terracotta roofs found at Poggio Civitate and one of the most beautiful views in all of Italy. Looking out of the third story windows of the museum onto the rain fallen fields was quite a site to behold. The majesty of the land revealed itself in its true nature there. Did we learn to appreciate the history and beauty of life a bit more in that museum? Yes. Is this the discovery I speak of? No. 

See, the discovery I speak of is extremely ancient. This was a discovery of a technology unbeknownst to modern man. I think it may have been something found in the excavation of the dig site, but Mr. Carroll also claims that he had them back in his day! The discovery I speak of is the strange invention of the “Clothes Line.” It appears to do the same thing as a dryer, but it hangs the clothes on a rope in mid air instead of tumbling them all around. This is a very strange and new discovery, so I can only hope and dream of its endless possibilities in the coming days. 

-Patrick