Day 4: Taking the Heat

Jo:

Today was Bliss’s penultimate day on the dig, and boy was it a hot one. The sun, unlike weeks past, was steaming, raising the temperature to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Like yesterday, today’s morning was full of layering off the floor in trench C Middle where we cleared off more of the rocky layer and leveled the ground. In trench A, David continued to find the staircase, and in the photo gallery, you will see Silvia taking pictures of the newly articulated steps. It is quite amazing to recall that just a few days ago, the staircase was covered in a mound of dirt, and there was no way that we could imagine there were multiple steps extending down towards the vault.

Besides those, the morning dig was routine, as there were no major and groundbreaking discoveries. Though uneventful, the morning proved productive, and tomorrow, we look forward to continue making process in our respective digs.

After the morning, I headed to the floatation lab in the convent where I, using the floatation apparatus, separated the charcoal and plant remains from the dirt. Right across from me was the cleaning team, who took off the dirt from the artifacts using toothbrushes. In another corner of the convent’s main square was the sifting team, who separated bones and small pieces of charcoal from the unnecessary and unidentifiable pebbles and specks of dirt.

All in all, the afternoon was a time to consider again each aspect of archaeology and where each fell into place to contribute to the research process that will be done later on.

Because I was indoors most of the afternoon, I was fortunate enough not to face the wrath of the sun—something Bliss endured. I am sure he will, and has, comment on that in his post.

With just two days remaining with Bliss’s company, I want to say how much I’ve appreciated and enjoyed digging trench C, translating inscriptions, and spending time with Bliss, and I wish him the absolute best during his time in India. After working through the laborious digging and late nights writing the blog posts, he and I have learned a lot about both the field of archaeology and simply work. As such a bright, witty, and energetic student and friend, I am sure Bliss will absorb and utilize the knowledge he has gained from these past three weeks in his linguistic and classics future—a bright one indeed.

 

Perry:

Remember how I stated last night that yesterday was the hottest day yet? Well I was wrong—today proved to be much worse. My last full day was spent in Trench C-North toiling one last time under the scorching Umbrian sun.

The day was actually remarkably similar to yesterday—wake-up at seven, breakfast duty, van, etc. It was an ominous sign, however, that when we arrived at the trench it was already quite warm—usually it’s cool for a little while in the morning before it heats up.

We began, as usual, with locus 512, “the garbage heap of Coriglia,” according to one of my trench-mates. First we swept—as our goal was to close the locus for a photo. Once, however, we turned over a large piece of mortar, we changed our plans. This baby-sized chunk, as we discovered, was turned upside-down—we knew this because of the holes for mosaic-composing tesseræ were on the piece’s bottom side. When flipped over, this chunk resembled greatly the existing mosaic foundation found in a nearby room. Given this stone and the large number of tesseræ found nearby, there must have been a large mosaic in this area in times past.

Speaking of tesseræ, as I was pondering language during the morning’s digging, I finally figured out the origin of that word. This winter in Greek class we learned that, in the Attic Dialect, the word τέτταρες means “four.” Apply the phonological transformation from Attic to other dialects of Greek (double tau becomes double sigma) and one is left with τέσσαρες: tessares in English transliteration. (I also remember that τέσσαρα means “four” in Modern Greek after playing hide-and-seek with some Greek friends on vacations past). Okay, perhaps you see where the form of the word came from, but how are the concepts of “four” and “mosaic tile” related? Well most mosaic tiles, actually, are square: four sides! At least I was productive in some way this morning!

After lunch, I moved to trench C-South to help out with bucket and wheelbarrow work. To put it short, this was rather uneventful and self-explanatory. I can swear I dumped at least fifty buckets and sorted through them all—lifting these and pushing heavy barrows in the dry heat was surely quite the challenge, yet satisfying indeed.

Huh. I felt as if I’ve said those words about almost every day now. It’s true—I’m immensely proud of all my work here so far. With only one day left of my time here, I’ve been reflecting a lot and this has been a great experience for me, and I am so grateful. I’ll stop there for now, so I still have enough material for an extended reflection in a few days or so. Until then!

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