Day 2: First Dig

Jo:

After a full night of rest following a long and jet-lagged full journey from the US, Bliss and I embarked on our first day of digging. In the morning, our group took two vans to our site, which sat in sight of a beautiful view—buildings rested on top of mountains decorated our view, which motivated me further to resist the beaming sunlight and continue working.

However, in the early morning, the sun was the least of our issues. Because of the thunderstorm the night before, the tarps on top of our stations were drenched in dirt water that took about 30 or so minutes to remove. Even after the 30 minutes, we were required to let the sun—which hadn’t even come out yet—dry the earth before we stepped in, in hopes that our shoes would not track our footsteps in the wet mud. To our luck, the sun popped out suddenly, and we were left to wait.

I was due to work in C Central—which was one thirds of the station, C. The C station is a massive space that is thought to be either an annex to a house or a bathhouse, but there were artifacts found that pointed in other directions such as two vaults that is hypothesized to have been used for storage. The thing about archaeology is that nothing is certain, and that fascinated me.

Because of the wetness of the area, though, I worked in C North with Bliss, sifting through rocks and finding material such as tiles, tesserae, fresco, bone and others. The most astonishing find of the day was a small piece of bronze that appeared to be a part of a piece of jewelry.

After a lunch break (delicious sandwiches), I headed indoors to the convent (the place where all the men are staying and where everyone eats breakfast, lunch and dinner) and volunteered to work with the floating machine, hoping to find out other realms of archaeological investigation.

I wasn’t let down.

For the afternoon, I worked with Linda, an archaeobotanist, with the floating machine. The floating machine is a combination of three trash bins that aims to separate the charcoal from the other rock and dirt pieces. Why did we separate the charcoal? Afterwards, Linda will use the charcoal to see what kind of plant the burnt material was originally in order to create a better picture of the landscape during the time of the settlement.

Following the separation, we took the rocks and dirt outside, where we again, separated them into smaller and smaller pieces. Using a filtering box that had holes of one millimeter by one millimeter, a strong hose, and a drain, we threw out the unnecessary dirt. Then, w e did the same for the three millimeter by three millimeter box. All we could do from there is leave the bins of rocks and small particles out to dry.

Now that the work day was over, it was time for dinner.

Prior to dinner, “Dig Umbria” has something called a “podcast” for which a representative from each group delivered a quick summary of the day’s work. Bliss and I were fortunate enough to be urged to speak for our respective groups. I felt honored to be entrusted—on our first day—with a representing job.

When the sun finally disappeared and the night grew dark, it was time for some sightseeing, so Bliss and I headed outdoors and enjoyed the Orvieto night scenery.

It was beautiful.

 

Perry:

Buona sera a tutti! Today was our first day in the trenches, and, although the night is still young, I am exhausted after my first few hours of digging labor.

I have been assigned to Trench C North, a recent addition to the Coriglia excavation, under the supervision of Darlene, the same supervisor who picked me up at the Oriveto station yesterday. Basically, the purpose of this area is to determine where the bath complex ends—does it terminate at the last wall, or are there any further terraces?

After reluctantly rolling out of bed at 6:45 A.M. (in New York time, 12:45 A.M—usual bedtime for most Exonians), Joonho and I grabbed breakfast and crawled onto one of the vans which more-than-crawled to Coriglia, arriving as the night-time fog was just retreating off the mountains. While we waited for the sun to arrive to dry the ground a little bit more before commencing the digging (we are lucky, since Trench C North is the closest to the sun’s warmest rays and therefore dries the quickest, we asked more questions. This didn’t happen for long, however, as we started within fifteen minutes.

The day’s job involved locus (a Latin word meaning “place,” used in archaeology jargon to define a specific layer of dirt) 646, an elevated mound in the center of Trench C North. Our goal was to clear it out of the trench and to sift through it for any items of interest. This labor lasted basically the whole day—we scoured bucked upon bucket, wheelbarrow upon wheelbarrow of soil, all to find a few shards of pottery, tesseræ (mosaic tiles), and bone pieces. One of my comrades, however, recovered an interesting bronze piece—not identified but of note nevertheless. What we did learn, however, was that the walls and trench are deeper than expected and that similar work will continue over the next few days.

 

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