Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 7 (June 6, 2023)

Today was the first day in a while that we could finally work until 5 pm. The rain only came down at lunchtime, leaving us free to dig. In Area 1000, we continued removing the lowest part of the collapse 44, while a couple of people started to expose the tile collapse with their trowels in the southern part of the room where it was already emerging. Since we now have some extra hands, we send a small team under Michelle’s and Ryan’s leadership to Area 4000. Here we have located an internal tower along the southern curtain wall. Ryan and Janette took over this job, cleaning the space from the vegetation and exposing the walls again. With Michelle’s help, they cleared the section of the curtain wall (here, very poorly preserved), revealing what looks like to be the connection between the “tower” and the curtain. It was immediately clear how the curtain was built with a yellowish mortar, while the “tower” used a yellowish clay, similar to the one found in other walls, like 16 in Area 1000. To understand the building sequence, we must excavate and better expose the structure’s walls over the following days. The presence of this “tower” might also indicate the proximity of a gate or a postern gate, which will help us define the castle’s “road” system.

Podere Cannicci – Day 5 (June 2, 2023)

On the fifth day of the first week, the Cannicci team remained at the newly-opened Area 5000 at the castle site. We made significant progress in clearly revealing the outline of three walls, though we had to dig through a large amount of collapse to find them, taking turns with the pickaxes and bucketing away the resulting spoil. The room defined by these limitations is smaller than expected, and there is not enough evidence yet to confidently identify the building, but the fact that we have uncovered so much of the building’s shape in only two half-days of work has been a good morale boost for the team.

In the afternoon the team returned to Cannicci, and, after waiting out a brief spate of rain, began digging in context 83. Under the supervision of Dr. Edoardo Vanni, Michael, and Marta, the goal was to find the next context underneath, which we partially uncovered by the end of the day. We dug up a good amount of ceramics in the process, including black gloss pottery and items that were probably cookware. As we worked, we were visited by colleagues from nearby excavations, as well as by some academics interested in the site. Weather permitting, next week will see the discovery of multiple new contexts!

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 6 (June 5, 2023)

The weather has been good enough for Cannicci’s team to return to their site. In the meantime, our group came back to the Castle to keep working on the collapse. We are now getting close to the end of it, at least according to the section exposed by the robber’s pit, while we could not identify any other possible layer in between.
Michelle’s students worked documenting the walls of Area 1000 and 2000 using photogrammetry to create a digital drawing of the façades of the structures and their multiple phases so that we could better understand the construction techniques and relative chronologies.
Unfortunately, the rain, which was expected since the early morning, arrived again around lunchtime with heavy showers and thunders, forcing another stop of the works.

Podere Cannicci – Day 4 (June 1, 2023)

As we had expected, the previous day’s rains had made the Cannicci site impossible to dig once again. On day four our team returned to the Castellaraccio, but instead of working on the keep, we began fresh work on a structure on the fringes of the castle site, Area 5000. Guided by straight lines of stones which may represent collapsed walls, the team worked to clean foliage, collapse, and detritus from the site, and then began excavation under the leadership of Benedetta, Michael, and Betsy. Initial results are promising: the presence of mortar all but confirms that the stones belong to the walls of a building, though whether that building is a church, a tower, or something else remains unknown. Midday saw the return of thunderstorms, and so the day’s work was cut short. While our inability to make progress at Cannicci is disappointing, the breaking of new ground at the castle represents a fresh avenue of inquiry into the history of this area.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 5 (June 2, 2023)

Another joint mission of Cannicci and Castellaraccio’s group at the Castle this morning.

Benedetta led her group again to the western edge of the Castle (Area 5000), where the contours of a room were starting to appear under the vegetation and the crumbled stones.

Alessandro and Cleo led the team in Area 1000. We removed most of the remains of the collapse from most of the room, reaching the curtain wall on the northern edge of the space. We exposed most of the new structure we discovered yesterday, which does not seem longer than 2-3 meters. However, its western edge is covered by the tile collapse, so we must wait for a definitive answer. The roof-tile collapse is also starting to appear in the southern part of the room; however, it looks like there might be some difference in high between the south and north part of the room. The roof-tile context seems much more profound, possibly following a slope, moving northwards. We will try to verify this over the following days.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 4 (June 1, 2023)

Cannicci is still flooded, so we had to merge the two teams again. With Michelle, we decided that it might be helpful to send the Cannicci’s team to open a new space in the westernmost part of the Castle, right opposite Area 1000, where the “little palace” or “tower” is located. Benedetta Baleani took the leadership of the Cannicci’s team and started to clear the area.

The Castellaraccio’s group continued to work in the northern room of Area 1000 since the collapse had been significantly reduced. On the SE corner of the room, the surface of a new wall (context 128), oriented NS, started to appear under the collapse. The wall was obliterated and possibly in connection to a previous phase of the area, but it is too early to understand its relationship with the other structures. This new structure was directly covered by a section of the tile collapse on its northern side. Again, the rain forced us to stay at our headquarters in Monteverdi due to heavy rain, which started after the lunch break. Thanks to new tarps we could cover Area 2000, allowing it to dry for the following days.

Podere Cannicci – Day 3 (May 31, 2023)

On day three, the daily rainfall continued to frustrate our efforts to finish cleaning the Cannicci site. The team at Cannicci joined the castle group on the hill, both to focus all efforts on excavating on dry land and to expose the newer Cannicci students to the experience of working at the castle site. Professor Michelle Hobart gave a brief tour of the castle and explained its history and importance to our research efforts, and then the entire team worked to continue removing the collapse from the keep in Area 1000 under the supervision of Benedetta Baleani, Cleo Barbafiera, Betsy, and Michael. Underneath, we found a continuation of the tile context which had been discovered last year, spurring hopes of further discoveries later in the season.

Following the work on the castle, the team returned to Cannicci, which was still too wet to dig and spotted with puddles. The rest of the day was dedicated to bucketing out the puddles and the drains in Area 1, an effort led by Betsy, Michael, and Marta. The day was cut short, just as we had finished bailing out the drains, by the arrival of another thunderstorm. Hopefully the weather will improve in the future, permitting further progress in Cannicci and easier removal of the collapse from the castle site!

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 3 (May 31, 2023)

The site of Cannicci was unfortunately heavily impacted by the rain, which made it mostly impracticable for stratigraphic work, so both teams from Cannicci and Castellaraccio went up to the Castle to help remove the largest portion of the stone collapse in the northern room of Area 1000.

Thanks to our increased number, we started excavating from two different sides, moving around the robber pit on the north-western side of the room. One of the last stumps was also removed, making our work and moving around much more manageable. We are possibly reaching the bottom of the collapse since an increased number of fragments of tiles are starting to appear between the stones and the soil. This year we are cursed by the rain, which forced us to leave earlier than expected.

In the meantime, we were able to set up our survey GPS antennas, which will facilitate our recordings at the different sites

Podere Cannicci – Day 2 (May 20, 2023)

Today, the students were introduced to Podere Cannicci again.
The day was spent cleaning and preparing both Areas 1 and 1000 for their final seasons. Proper excavation techniques were taught to the new students, with additional help from the returning participants.
The site was completely cleaned, and shortly after, a visiting team from Populonia quickly toured the site before the day was ended by a summer storm.
More updates are coming soon regarding the removal of the last phases of Roman occupation; stay tuned!

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 2 (May 30, 2023)

The second day of excavation. The entire team went up to the castle in the morning, focusing their energy on digging the remains of the collapse from the northern room of Area 1000. Unfortunately, Area 2000 is still too wet to properly work with due to constant evening showers (more are forecast for tonight). Michelle’s student went down to Paganico after the morning break to study the curtain walls of the medieval settlement. We kept working at the castle, removing most of the upper level of collapse from the room. After lunch, we received the visit of Prof. Camporeale and his team from the University of Siena, with whom we discussed the construction phases of Area 1000.