Now already Friday, this penultimate week at Umbria has flown by. It seems that just yesterday, I was readjusting from climate of Scarlino to that of Orvieto—instead, I find myself at the end of the week, and the start of the last weekend at Orvieto.
Today was a rather uneventful day (as yesterday was), since I was in the lab the entire morning and afternoon cleaning pottery and sorting through charcoal and bones.
The pottery I cleaned ranged from 1200 B.C. to 100 A.D. and some were decorated with beautifully ornate stamps. One piece of pottery—black since it was burned—had an etching that looked somewhat like an “M,” but the markings extended out, almost like a wave. I found it fascinating that such intricate designs were completed by hand with small tools, not with machines.
Another design I cleaned was the handle of an amphora on which were interesting dots extending down the outermost sides. They were in no design, but in a pattern of a line down the curved handle. Just using the size and shape of the handle, I could imagine the contour of the entire amphora—a skill that Professor Glen informed me archaeologists need to have.
Although not much occurred in my day, I did have an epiphany that cleaning pottery was not as easy as it seemed. By the end of the morning, my hands and my forearms were burning, even more than after a day of digging in the field.
After another three hours of cleaning, my arms were sorer than ever. The toothbrush demanded a strong grip and the innumerable amount of artifacts too. Again, I realized that despite its tediousness, the cleaning was an essential part of the archaeology process, since a lot of the markings I found were not visible prior to the cleaning. In fact, some of the pottery were not distinguishable until I removed the dirt in the creases. After removing that dirt, you could clearly see the curves and lines of the pottery.
In addition, today was Bliss’s final day, and we all said our greetings as he packed up from our room and exited the convent. Like in yesterday’s entry, I want to praise and say how much I loved having Bliss with me as a fellow blogger and digger. This experience would not have nearly been as enlightening and enjoyable without him.
As he departs Italy, he will be heading to India to partake in NSLI-Y. I’m sure he would appreciate it if you would follow him on his blog: www.adventuresofalingblisst.com.
Meanwhile, I will be writing solo for the remainder of my time here, so please do continue following https://joperryorvietojournals.wordpress.com/.
Today was the day I’ve long been awaiting—my final day at work. All this time, I had been waking up every morning knowing that I was one day closer: 24 hours less until my “liberation,” if you will, from the trenches. Once the day came, however, I fully realized how much I loved the experience, despite its difficulty, and how much I would miss it.
For the day, the supervisors afforded me the chance to pursue both lab and field work, so I could receive a final sampling of all the different jobs I tried during the last few weeks. In the lab, I worked with Jade on sorting flotation samples from various loci in Coriglia and the Cavità. You know, the usual process I’ve described about three times involving the paintbrushes and tiny pieces of charcoal and shell? Fun stuff. Anyways, Jade, the new archaeobotanist and floatation supervisor, is from England, so it was interesting to talk about the Brexit and to gain a British perspective on that quite controversial issue. Being in E.U. territory right now, I can already start to sense the long-term ramifications of the decision—many Italians at Obelix this morning were already starting to ponder the possibility of an Italian exit! As a supporter of European integration, I was somewhat disappointed in the turnout, and most of my comrades seemed to agree.
In general, so much news has happened in these last three weeks, as Joonho and I were discussing today: Orlando, the Brexit, NATO deployment into Poland and the Baltics, Stanford, the U.S. election lead-up, and more. We’ve been so focused on the dig that many of these events have passed over our heads, as if we were in some sort of bubble—a concept that reminds me of my Exeter experience but to an even greater extent. Well, at least I have quite a bit of reading material to sift through for my flight back to New York and then onwards to Delhi!
After lunch, I moved out to the field for one last run in the trenches. However, it was quite hot, so, as I arrived, I saw my comrades not grunting, sweating, and laboring, as expected, but rather sitting in the shade and eating popsicles. It was even hotter than the previous two days, and the work had grinded to a halt. Nevertheless, I helped to sort through some dirt from locus 512, in which a new drainage pipe had been discovered parallel to last week’s, and found many tesseræ and much pottery.
Then came the good-byes. After packing my bags, I bade farewell to all of my new friends—my fellow diggers, supervisors, and professors. I will miss them all, and I am so grateful for their support and hard work alongside me in the trenches, laboratory, kitchens, and et cetera. Particularly, I am most thankful for the help of Darlene, my trench supervisor, and Professor George, the head of the dig who directed my inscription work, for all of their help, although I will elaborate on this in a later reflection. Not to mention Joonho, my constant digging partner, co-blogger, and best friend, without whom this trip would have been a lot more difficult. Thanks for sharing my Indian blog link (seriously, check it out, guys)!
At around 6:00 P.M. I drove out of the convent one final time, albeit not on the usual white van, en route to Capalbio, a town near the Tyrrhenian coast. The rest of my night has been occupied by a wonderful three-course meal of zucchini carpaccio, Milanese risotto, and beef filet. I’ll spend some time here, at the beach, and in Rome before my departure to Newark early Monday morning, exactly three weeks after I arrived. There will be two more updates— one will be about the weekend, and the other will be that greatly-hyped and mentioned reflection. Until then!