An update from Erin, an SMU Master of Liberal Studies student:
I remember the first time I heard about the Etruscans. I was in an art history class in undergrad one summer, and it was the very first slide of the very first lecture. They were described as a strange and wonderful culture of people of unknown origin, who produced exquisite metal artifacts and wonderful animal motif ceramics.
I was hooked immediately. I dreamed of how amazing it would be to excavate in picturesque Tuscany and unearth evidence of Etruscan culture that had been buried for thousands of years.
This summer I got my chance. I joined the Poggio Colla excavation in Vicchio after a week tour with Dr. Greg Warden of Etruscan sites and museums located throughout Italy. Each stop on our tour led us to extensive collections of Etruscan artifacts, of enormous tombs carved of stone with wonderful frescos of banquets and hunting scenes – all glimpses into the life of the Etruscan elite.
I have to say, if the Etruscans ate as well as I did during my two-and-a-half week adventure, they must have been a very happy people. Everywhere we went, the gastronomy was incredible. I had delicious prosciutto, gelato and fresh buffalo mozzarella daily – three of my favorite Italian staples. I was also constantly drinking espresso, which was everywhere in great quality.
The excavation, though physically exhausting, was extremely interesting. Each day held new discoveries and posed new questions for us about what was happening in our trenches. I love how archaeology is such a jigsaw puzzle, with so many components to figure out. It was also great to feel like my contribution, however small, was measurable and valuable to the overall understanding of Etruscan culture.
At the end of the adventure, my only regret was the boarding pass back to D/FW in my hand. I think I’ll have to come back next summer in order to continue my experimental archaeology project of the daily life in Etruria – and do some more research on the gastronomy while I’m at it.