Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 12 (June 9, 2022)

Despite a summer storm that blocked the works at the castle this was a lucky day at the site. In the morning the team continued to remove context 55 and to undertake smaller interventions in crucial points of Area 2000 to solve or doublecheck some crucial stratigraphic connections between contexts.

However, the crucial moment arrived when we started to remove the large stone placed in the central-northern area (context 97). This stone has been interpreted as a sort of working surface due to the presence of several sings on its surface probably generated by the abrasion of some tools. Precisely under this stone we found a ring decorated with an hexagonal blue glass. This find, while extremely interesting, it is a bit in conflict with the phase marked by the black layer 55, which seems to denote a workshop area dedicated to storage or processing cereals. Later during the day, context 55 also restituted a weight, possibly for fishnets. Also in Area 3000 interesting finds are starting to appear. Here Ryan completed the documentation and excavated a new layer from which a new knife blade was recovered. This concluded another exciting day of work at the castle.

Podere Cannicci – Day 12 (June 9, 2022)

The Podere Cannicci team undertook diverse tasks today yet completed a tremendous amount of work. Several students, under the supervision of Michael, washed and organized ceramic materials that had been previously recovered during our excavations while Federico and Betsy led the rest of the team in finishing the removal of Context 75 and in fully exposing and cleaning Contexts 73 and 60, which respectfully refer to levels of collapsed brick and tile and what may have been a floor foundation of packed stone, tile, and other spoliated elements.

By the afternoon, these efforts had been completed, and Edo, Federico, and Betsy supervised the students as they sketched and photographed the strata that had been brought to light. After this, the team began to remove Context 60, bringing up impressive fragments of ceramic as well as misfired tile, evidencing production in the vicinity. The students were full of excitement as they filled multiple bags of pottery and drew large bones, slag, and structural elements from the earth.

Furthermore, partway through the day, Betsy and Dr. Fabiana Fabbri, the project’s votive specialist, left with Edo and Jacopo, one of our project’s gracious hosts, to conduct a field survey at a place called Fonte Cavalli along Monteverdi’s slopes. These investigations returned some tile and ceramic fragments as well as a clearer understanding of the zone; the area will continue to be scrutinized in the coming days.

Despite splintering into different teams, there was ample time for the Podere Cannicci crew to both educate and to push their respective projects forward. We are looking forward to the wonders that our final week will bring!

An unexpected discovery at Podere Cannicci

In the last few days, the research team is investigating new portions at the late Etruscan and Republican site of Podere Cannicci. During these activities, an unexpected discovery happened. During the removal of the soil on a nearby hill, the remains of an elephant tusk appeared from the earth, providing a snapshot of the paleo-environment and fauna of this territory in the Pleistocene; the tusk can be dated around 150,000 years ago and definitely informs of a much more different landscape for Paganico and the middle valley of the Ombrone river.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 11 (June 8, 2022)

This morning we received a visit from the Cannicci team. Michelle and Alessandro give them a full tour explaining the historical context into which Castellaraccio was inserted and the archaeological situation we are encountering. Ryan also explained the finds from his test pit. Most of the rest of the day was spent in removing other parts of 55 and cleaning the older parts of the excavation in Area 2000 now that we are unifying the part we excavated this year with it. Ryan and Benedetta documented the extension of Area 3000 while Nolan and Leeanna completed the cleaning of Area 1000

Podere Cannicci – Day 11 (June 8, 2022)

The day started with the teams meeting for a visit to the Castellaraccio, the medieval castle of Monteverdi being excavated by the team leaded by Alessandro Carabia. Professor Hobart showed the students the results of these two weeks of investigations: Cleo, Ryan and Benedetta worked hard to expose new layers of charcoal and ashes that revealed many burned seeds and other interesting materials probably collapsed during a fire. The visit was completed by a quick talk given by Edoardo about the use of total stations as accurate tools for topography and for documenting during the excavation.
The visit left everybody feeling uplifted and inspired. Two students, Leeanna and Nolan asked to join Alessandro’s team to help with the cleaning and documentation of the rampart of Castellaraccio.
The rest of the team returned to Cannicci to continue the excavation of the Area 1. Edoardo organized the team in smaller groups and they all together tackled the raw floors still covering part of the excavation area.
A strange raw of stones was revealed under one of the floors and it is still unclear whether it is a wall or not. Other parts of the puzzle is indicating the presence of at least one previous phase which must have been very different from the students are excavating right now. We can be sure there was a workshop in the latter phase (the one we are digging right now), but we cannot tell what was there before the workshop and why did the workshop start in that place. The most interesting part is that the history of the site is getting way more complex than we imagined.

Podere Cannicci – Day 10 (June 7, 2022)

Area 1 hosted a large array of finds, from animal bones to slag to ceramics. The day began with the removal of Context 80, which was hypothesized to be a post-hole but, due to containing discharge from a ceramic kiln within the fill, is now believed to be a general waste area instead. Following the removal of Context 80, the removal of Contexts 70, 75 and 77 all took place under the potential hypothesis that they may be representative of a single large raw floor. The removal of the contexts saw additional, larger finds consisting of larger ceramic vessels. The removal of Context 75 was suspected to hold a continuation of Context 60; instead, what was demonstrated was that Context 75 continued deeper and represents a well-packed raw floor, which will need further excavations.

Tomorrow holds much more in store as we continue to remove Context 75 and, soon, the ceramic and stone materials that comprise Context 60, including some exciting elements such as amphora and black-gloss ceramic wares.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 10 (June 7, 2022)

New day at the castle. Today we documented with the total station all the new layers exposed in the northern side of the area. Michelle reviewed the stratigraphy with the rest of team and we did a photogrammetry of the area. After this, we started to excavate the dark context 55. This level is also rich in burnt seeds so we had to take samples and sieve the soil. We are now entering in an older phase of occupation of the castle and context 55 represents the final occupation of this previous period.

Ryan has almost completed the excavation of the topsoil, fully exposing what looks like the corner of a wall, most likely belonging also to an older phase of the castle. Outside this structure, on the east, a group of collapsed bricks, a rare construction material, so far, at the castle.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 9 (June 6, 2022)

Today, in the extension of Area 3000, Ryan exposed a new collapse in the easternmost part of the trench. At the same time, he was able to identify the corner of the east-west wall which is delimiting the southern edge of the area.

In Area 2000 the rest of the team almost completed the removal of context 37, exposing the continuation of the black, organic context 55 and a series of new layers that will need identification. The team also found two interesting finds: the rim and handle of a Pisan amphora dating to the 13th century, and an iron arrowhead in the interface, recovered between 37 and 55, possibly of a similar chronology.

Podere Cannicci – Day 9 (June 6, 2022)

Today, the students of Podere Cannicci split into two groups, both setting to work on understanding and removing Contexts 75 and 77, the raw floors that were discovered last week.

During the removal of Context 75, the students discovered a grey circle defined by ash and charcoal, perhaps a posthole, just to the east of the corner formed by the tile walls 68 and 76. This feature has been documented and will be excavated tomorrow morning, at which time we will understand better its function and relation to the carbonized beam, Context 74.

The second group began to remove Context 77; this floor, however, proved thicker than expected and will be uncovered in the coming days. Simultaneously, one student, Callie, investigated a patch of charcoal, Context 78, that had been identified at the end of last week. In fully removing the charcoal, Callie’s labor revealed that 78 was indeed the fill of a cut, now labelled Context 79, and was embedded within Context 77’s compact clay. The fill contained substantial amounts of slag as well as some ceramics. Although this feature may have been related to the activities of the furnace located directly to the east, the depth of the cut has led the team to diverse hypotheses of its purpose; we hope to better understand the feature by the end of Context 77’s removal.

Partway into our efforts, the Cannicci team was also visited by two external archaeologists staying nearby, who helped us to begin to remove the final raw floor, Context 70, and to reveal the expanding reddish-brown soil beneath. This effort will likewise be completed in the coming days.

All three lines of investigation have promised to uncover another phase of life in Area 1. Indeed, the zone has proven to be richer than previously believed, and we are hopeful that, by the end of the season, we will better understand the activities and experiences of those who once labored in the valley.

Castellaraccio di Monteverdi – Day 8 (June 3, 2022)

The last day of the week saw the documentation of the layer 37. Using the perfect morning light, we did a full photogrammetry of the area. This layer was recognized over the past few years as the last floor of the room before its abandonment and restituted a great amount of depurated and semi-depurated pottery, iron nails and some glass. We also uncovered a beautiful fireplace in the north-western corner of the site. We then started excavating it to reach the previous phase of occupation of the castle, which we uncovered last year in the rest of the room. Ryan is continuing his work in the new test pit in area 3000, while Adi and Mahlet helped us cleaning Area 1000.