Archaeology in Italy 2009

More than 50 students, scholars and archaeological professionals from more than 20 universities, including SMU, will assemble in Tuscany in Summer 2009 to excavate the Etruscan sanctuary and settlement of Poggio Colla.
The excavation team is headed by Gregory Warden, University Distinguished Professor of Art History at SMU, along with Professors Michael Thomas of the University of Texas at Austin, and Ann Steiner and Gretchen Meyers of Franklin and Marshall College. The excavation serves as a field school for undergraduate and graduate students to learn archaeological practice and theory while working alongside a diverse professional staff, including archaeologists, surveyors, geologists, architects, illustrators, information technologists and other archaeological specialists, as well as the conservation staff.

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Hard work pays off

An update from Ali, a student at Franklin and Marshall College:

I don’t know what I went into this dig thinking, but this is nothing I expected. I am finally at the point where I can say that it is better than what I thought it was going to be. Once you get past waking up every morning at 5:30, walking up a mountain, digging for eight hours, getting covered in dirt, washing pottery, having enough time for an army style shower, and then having an hour and fifteen minute lecture, it is really quite amazing.

Ali2.jpg I came into the dig with the thought that this was going to be easy. This is everything but easy, yet it is still one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. I think my first big accomplishment was cutting out a tree stump with an ax. I, being a spoiled girl from Minnesota, have never gone near an ax before. Cutting out the stump made me realize that I could really do the work that archaeology required. This occurred in one of the first weeks at the site.

After that, we were assigned trenches and I, of course, was assigned PC 34. For those of you who have never been to the site, PC 34 is in the sun ALL OF THE TIME! As previously mentioned, I am from Minnesota, which means I do not do well with heat. So my next big accomplishment was realizing that I could manage in the heat and actually survive. From this point, my trench went on to find numerous amazing pieces of pottery and pithoi, and of course the famous loom weights of PC 34. I really began to enjoy the long days of hard work and the feeling of knowing I worked hard all day long.

Ali_and_Katie_trenchteam.jpg But the highlight of my trip so far had to be last Friday (24 July 09). Our trench had been given the ok to extend the trench, and we knew that we needed to work hard. Our day started with Andrea telling us that we were going to work harder in the upcoming week then we ever had before – just what you want to hear at 7 am after four weeks of already hard work – but the amazing thing was, my trench mates and I looked at each other and just responded that we could do it.

We were split into two teams, one to work on the extension and get it leveled to stratum two and the other to work in locus 5 unearthing what we believe to be a floor level. About mid-day, our trench assistant Matt was too ill to continue to work. At this point I was thinking there was no way we could finish all the work with our trench down a member, but I think I was the only one with this doubt.

Then it was time for lunch break, which is usually a half hour, but today our team made it shorter in order to get back to work in the trench. It started with one person going back, and then the rest followed. We had a goal and we needed to achieve it. During the next two hours, we worked incredibly hard and we accomplished our goal: we had made it down to stratum two.

We got back to the house and we all passed out. I fell asleep without even taking a shower. Looking back on that day, it was by far the hardest I have ever worked at the site and yet my favorite. It showed how much our trench has bonded into a team and how much we are all working toward the same goal. I have never played a team sport, but I imagine that this is how a team would feel after winning a close game.

I can’t believe this is all over in two weeks and that I will be leaving Tuscany and returning to the States to write a 16-page paper. I will be leaving all of the great friends I have made, the amazing food prepared for dinner, the quiet village of Vicchio, the weekends of travel, the days filled with hard work, the co-op runs, urban needs – but I will be leaving with the memories of my Italian adventure.

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