Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Good night, sweet trench

Alas, lovely trench PC 42's days have come to a close.

Actually, they came to a close at the beginning of August, but, well, I haven't quite got around to commemorating the trench's final moments.

In the end, PC 42 was excavated down to bedrock which revealed several walls and a good deal of construction evidence. We found a fair number of post-holes and cuttings in the bedrock and a lot of levelling fill.

Most of PC 42's scarps were a nightmare, thanks to tree trunks and the ancient dumped debris that makes sculpting scarps into vertical faces - 'like glass'- the bane of undergraduates.

On the last day of fieldwork, a tarp was laid in the trench and all the dirt we had removed during the season was dumped back in. This is called 'backfilling' and is done in order to protect the trench from the elements, as well as clandestinii (looters). Watching all that dirt go back in - well, it hurts the heart a little to see it done.

Backfilling at Poggio Colla in 2004.

It also hurts everywhere else a little, too. Actually, a lot. I'll be honest. Backfilling was the one day where the physical pain was so bad I wanted to cry. It was a nice reminder that age and decrepitude even conquers archaeologists.

Ultimately I did survive Backfill Day, though. So too did PC 42's students, who were total champs and made the season really spectacular.

Thanks, guys: Cassie, Kristen, Morgan, me, Sarah, Jack.

For now, PC 42 sits lonely upon its wooded hill, tree roots already weaseling down into the soft empty soil that has replaced its 2300 years of stratigraphy. The Mugello Valley is a quieter place, without the hoard of filthy American students stomping about in a fine impersonation of 'Pig Pen.' I went on to see a large part of Italy over the subsequent three weeks (more on this later), but in the end, the Mugello still holds pride of place as my favorite part of Italy. Mushroom hunters, wild boars and lightening storms just aren't the same anywhere else!

Me and the Mugello at dusk, as seen from the amazing restaurant 'Casa di Caccia.'

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