The final day of the 2021 excavation season has arrived. We spent the entire day cleaning the site for the final documentation and preparing it for the gala event that will take place tomorrow!
Once again, we would like to thank all the people who took part in our excavation season for making these discoveries real. Without these enthusiastic and professional students, we could not have achieved so much during this year!
Today is the last day of real excavations at the site. Tomorrow, we will document all the exposed contexts, and proceed with the final photographs for the season.
The fortification wall on the western side is now almost fully exposed and we can trace its development and relationship with the keep. At a first glimpse, it seems like it can be referred to as a single construction phase, although more detailed studies are necessary to confirm this impression.
The house clearly shows that at least three earlier structures were obliterated by context 37 and the final construction of the building later in the 13th century. It is also clearer that these structures predate the construction of the fortification wall that encloses the entire hilltop and, in a very preliminary way, they can be dated before the 11th century. This is an extraordinary discovery, as for the first time we have data to surely confirm the presence of a settlement on the hill before the first mentions in the (surviving) written sources.
Finally, the discovery of some classical bricks and pottery in a secondary position informs on the possibility that a much earlier settlement was here present when the fortification and the castle were constructed.
The excavations along the northern side of the settlement and the keep revealed the continuous presence of the fortification wall that encloses the hilltop. The wall is characterized by medium to large stones, with a large foundation of at least 1.20m and it is preserved for some rows.
Particular attention is now needed in the house. Several new context were identified underneath 37, all pointing to an early medieval phase of the settlement. We spent the entire day cleaning carefully these strata to better understand their stratigraphical relationships while continuing to sieve all the soil for carbonized seeds.
Today, we decided to stop exposing and excavating the main collapse in the second room of the keep; at the same time, the new strategy focuses on the exposure and cleaning of the fortification circuit, so to better understand its development on the northern side and in its conjunction with the keep.
The excavations at the house made it clear that an earlier structure, the function of which is still unknown, was present and partially reused in the 13th century AD, when the final complex was built. Our attention focused also on the western side, where a small context related to the foundation of a wall showed the presence of interesting pieces of pottery; this will help understand its chronology once the material culture is studied.
The complete removal of context 37 showed also a series of new strata with an intensification of carbonized seeds.
The last week of the 2021 excavation season saw the team continuing to remove part of the collapse in the second room of the keep. Due to the thickness of the context, it was decided to only concentrate on one strip, exposing also a new collapse stratum, composed of roof tiles. Once this activitiy is finished, the excavation of the room will stop.
In the house in the middle of the settlement, the research continued to remove context 37 and to expose an earth-beaten floor that is contained by an alignment of stones, parallel to the southern wall. This alignment is joined by another earlier wall, running N-S that was reused during the later construction of the house.
The removal of context 37 also showed the presence of and some concentrations of carbonized seeds of different species. We have started to sieve the context, especially in its interface with the layers underneath it.
The last day of the second week saw the team continuing to remove the collapse in the second room of the keep. This would be the last day that we work on this context, as we understood that it takes more time than what we have to finish the task. Nonetheless, we started to expose and clean a second context of collapse, made up of broken roof-tiles as we had in the other room of the building.
In the house, instead, we have removed context 37 that contained the clay seal and a couple of coins minted in Florence. Just underneath, a much interesting situation is now appearing, with walls of a previous building being covered by 37. Stay tuned for some news on Monday!
Today the excavations stopped because Chiara, one of our students, had to discussed her dissertation. Huge congratulations to her!!
The rest of the team spent the morning in the lab, but in the afternoon we visited the abandoned medieval village of Monte Acuto, near Pari. This was one of the sites belonging to the Ardengheschi family owners also of Castellaraccio. The site is open to public and some structures are well visible in the woods that cover the original settlement.
We spent the morning focusing on the second room of the keep. The rain, in fact, prevented us to continue our investigation in the house as context 37 was extremely wet and we could have damaged the stratigraphy.
Unfortunately, again in the afternoon we experienced a violent storm and we had to interrupt our activities.
We spent the entire morning concentrating on the removal of the collapse in the second room of the keep and to clean the emerging walls.
In the afternoon, we had to stop our activities due to a massive thunderstorm. We hope to resume the excavations tomorrow.
Today, we continued to remove the collapse in the second room of the keep. We have decided to concentrate on one half of the space, as the context is quite thick and we won’t be able to fully excavate it. At least, we will be able to check the building technique of the fortification and of the dividing wall between the two rooms.
The excavations in the house in the middle of the settlement proceeded with the documentation of context 37 with drone pictures, plans and drawings. We aim at removing it and check whether any early medieval context survives underneath.
The final cleaning of context 37 revealed a clay object, most likely a seal, bearing the arms of the city of Florence. Its chronology should be in the 14th century, when the castle is already abandoned according to written sources. This is opening new scenarios on the life and abandonment of the settlement at the same time when the nearby borgo franco di Paganico was rebuilt by Siena after Castruccio Castracani’s siege in 1328.