Jessica in Italy

Jessica is a senior marketing major, with a minor in art history, who leaves in June for an archaeological dig outside of Vicchio, in the Mugello Valley, as part of SMU-in-Italy: Archaeology. The site is an Etruscan settlement that has been being excavated for about 12 years.

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Shovel Test Pits are the pits

Today, Mindy, Kyle, Mona, Jen, Cathy, and I were assigned to work down the hill with the Keck project. They are a group of graduate geology students who are writing their theses on various aspects of the Podere Funghi and what they find there. We already know that there is a ceramic production place and a midden pile from earlier excavation, but it is thought that there might be more on the hill to find.

One way that this group is exploring the field is through a technique called shovel test pits, or STP. In this method, a 50cm pit is dug every 5 meters in a grid across the field. All of the soil from the pit is sifted and any archaeological inclusions are pulled out and put into bags. By analyzing the inclusions, they will be able to get a better idea of where other buildings and activity was during the Etruscan period.

While the end result is really quite interesting, digging and sifting shovel test pits is awful! All day in the beating sun digging and pushing mud and clumps of sand through a screen. This has been the least fun job, but at least my muscles are getting strong; maybe soon I will have the arms of a soil scientist, haha!

Tomorrow, the entire group is going to Florence, and then 10 of us are heading on to Siena to see the start of Il Palio! I am so looking forward to it!

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