The tip-tapping of the rain drops woke me up today, and immediately marked the delay of our outing. Following a quick breakfast, Professor George notified us that we would be listening to a lecture from two of our trench leaders. In the middle of the first one, the leader of the photography lab, Eamon, tapped me on the shoulder to join him at the lab.
The photography lab is the location where all the artifacts have their photo shoots done. When I began taking the photographs, I felt like a Hollywood photographer shooting posed models—either that, or mug shots. As seen in the photo gallery, the station was comprised of two lamps, a tripod, a camera, a scale, a brush, and a computer. After taking the portrait photo of the piece of amphora, I turned it several times to get each angle. Then, I flipped it over to get the other landscape angles. If the piece was a rim or a rather curved figure, I had to take the stand up angles and become creative with the turning. Ultimately, each piece required around seven pictures, and there were around two hundred pieces. It was a quite long day in the lab.
On one side of the room, Keenan was shooting attic pottery, on another Kelsey was shooting inscriptions. Kat was drawing inscriptions by hand, while Joe was working on the digumbria website.
Interrupting the morning portion of the lab, however, was a tour of Orvieto’s fascinating underground caves. Our tour guide and one of the leaders of our trench, Serena, informed us that under very third step in the city of Orvieto, the underground is hollow. That was remarkable. In addition, we learned there are over 1000 caves underground, and two public ones that visitors can look into. We visited one of the two.
Inside, we saw an Etruscan well that extended down 80 meters. How did the Etruscans get oxygen 80 meters underground? That was a question left unanswered. In the medieval side of the cave, we saw dovecoats—a lot of them. Feel free to check out some of them in the photo gallery for Day 4.
After the quick break from the lab, I returned to taking pictures. By 5 P.M., I had concluded the picture taking and moved on to sorting them on my computer by amphora piece. Because there were over 200 pieces, it took a while just to place the photos into folders.
By completing that, my work day was over. For dinner, Tommy cooked us a fantastic dinner.
Another day in the books, Bliss and I headed down to the Obelix and drank some Italian Fanta—made completely with natural sugar.
Despite the rain—as predicted in yesterday’s entry—today was a quite productive day. In the morning, we visited the caves underneath the hilltop town of Orvieto itself, while in the afternoon we returned to the trenches to continue our work on locus 658.
Joonho and I slept through our alarms this morning, but thankfully that was no problem, as it had rained too much for the group to head to Coriglia to dig. Archaeology in the mud is quite difficult for many reasons, the peskiest of which is that it is much harder to tell apart the different layers or loci when they are wet and therefore documenting the digging process is much more imprecise. Instead, we gathered at the tables to hear lectures from Kristen and Will, Kristen’s about a sarcophagus inscription and Will’s about the role of one of his sites within the larger scale Italian economy at the time. Kristen’s was particularly interesting to me because of its combination between archaeological methods and Latin language and literature–right out of my interests!
Afterwards, we drove up Orvieto’s rocky walls into the old town. It was our first time upon the actual hill, and it was quite beautiful. Typical of a central Italian hilltop settlement, its aged stone walls were so narrow that our van nearly got stuck, like “cholesterol clogging a vein,” as I remarked (no one laughed). We hopped off, glanced at the beautiful Duomo, and walked toward the walls. After walking down a very narrow staircase—the Etruscans must have been tiny people, I reckoned—we entered the first cave. In the first of two caverns we observed oil presses and a well. Even more interesting (and tighter) was the second cave, which was comprised of walls with holes for pigeons, which are indeed among the regional culinary specialties of the Orvieto region.
In the afternoon, after a quite extended lunch break, we decided to check out the site and see if it was ready to be worked at again after the rain. Although the ground definitely became muddier, the supervisors deemed it still possible to work and we quickly resumed our destruction work on locus 658. Moving further back on the rock pile, we came to a place where the debris heap met another established wall that seemed to end. After digging for about half an hour, however, we discovered that a continuation of that wall was buried under the rocks, running parallel. Furthermore, this continuation contained a slightly unexpected gap in the middle of it, implying that this section of the wall, according to Darlene, might be some sort of staircase or entrance. Besides the wall, in the pile we found more artifacts than usual. The frequency at which we found tile increased, as well as the diversity amongst the tile types. I myself unearthed some quite colorful pottery which seemed very well preserved, only to be informed that it was of the Renaissance age and not the ancient period—oh well! At least I found something at once. We also found a large log, turned into charcoal. Who knows what tomorrow would find?