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.

Identifying pottery and learning the lingo

Danielle_trenchteam2.jpg An update from Danielle, a student at Franklin and Marshall College:

I can’t believe it is already the second week that we’ve all been in Italy on the dig. Our days are flying by with the constant excitement, learning, and laughter that is taking place in lecture, on the hill, and while pottery washing. The weather has been beautiful and perfect excavation weather this week – with the exception of a few short rain showers earlier in the week.

We have learned so much in our short time here. Not only can we all now tell the difference between the different types of pottery, but we have also learned the archaeology lingo for use in our daily activities in the trenches.

The group of fellow students has been great at pitching in and teaching each other. We all have our strengths, and everyone’s willingness to discuss their ideas and opinions makes the learning experience that much more hands-on.

Every day has been filled with something unexpected and new. I look forward to what the coming month will bring.

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Hard at work on the hill

Poggio%20Colla%20Trench%20NW4.jpg An update from Katie, a student at the University of Massachusetts:

Our first week has come to a close, and we’ve all agreed that this has been one of the hardest, most rewarding weeks of our lives. While we currently might not be in peak physical condition, we will be soon. Avery has started playing music on the way up the hill every day, and it gets our blood moving for the next eight hours of work.

I still can’t believe that we get driven to the site every day. Yeah, we need to walk up a hill after we get there, but they drive us. And they bring us into town to replenish our supplies. It’s pretty surreal how well they take care of us (though it balances out the hard work every day). The shower situation is good; no one waits longer than 15 minutes around here. Laundry’s not terrible, and hand-washing allows you to appreciate both your mother and your washing machine at home.

I look forward to another week on the hill, especially now that the film crew is here.

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About Poggio Colla

An update from Dr. Greg Warden:

The Etruscan remains on Poggio Colla were first noted in the 19th century, and an Italian team first excavated the site from 1968 to 1972. The present excavations began in 1995.

Poggio Colla is located on an impressive plateau that dominates the Mugello basin, an area that promises to provide important information regarding Etruscan interaction and trade with neighbors to the north and east. An archaeologically accessible settlement of this type is a rarity for Etruscan studies where most of our knowledge results from funerary remains. Also unusual is the site’s long chronological range, from the 7th to 2nd centuries BCE, thus covering most of Etruscan history.

A Look Into Etruscan History

The research design combines traditional archaeology with broader survey of the region and the interdisciplinary study of the region’s material culture. The sanctuary of Poggio Colla has already provided important information on Etruscan ritual, and its significant architectural remains (sanctuary, temple, and houses) have produced a vast amount of Etruscan material culture that is being studied by staff and students. Some of this material was exhibited this spring at the Meadows Museum in an exhibit entitled “New Light on the Etruscans: Fifteen Years of Excavation at Poggio Colla.”

The Digging Begins

This summer excavation will continue on the acropolis, at the western end of the sanctuary, an area that has produced remarkable deposits of bronzes, gold jewelry, coins, and other votive material. Students and staff will work in both field and laboratory and will be joined by a British team led by Prof. Phil Perkins (Open University, United Kingdom) that will continue exploration of the Northwest slope, an area that promises to provide evidence for early settlement.

Our Headquarters

The Mugello Valley Archaeological Project is headquartered in the scenic medieval town of Vicchio, about 22 miles north of Florence. The Mugello, a vast basin ringed by tall mountains, has a rich history. The Renaissance artists Giotto and Fra Angelico were born in Vicchio. Benvenuto Cellini, the 16th-century sculptor and writer, spent part of his life in Vicchio. The mild climate, the beautiful hills, the abundance of game, and the ample supply of water made the Mugello popular with the Florentine aristocracy from the Renaissance to the present day. Unlike so many parts of modern Italy, the Mugello retains a rustic, agrarian look.

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