Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Much-Delayed Somewhat-Shortened Friday Archaeology Blogging

So, what have I been up to lately? Well, this, in a nutshell...

The site we're working on (and by "we" I mean the Universities of Alberta and Perugia) is a large Roman villa located in southeastern Tuscany near the border with Umbria. The nearest town of any note is Cortona, familiar to anyone who has seen Under The Tuscan Sun.

The villa itself was likely constructed in the 2nd century B.C., probably by a local, romanized, Etruscan aristocrat. This we know because there are a number of minor tweaks in the apparently Roman floor plan which suggest Etruscan sensibilities, particularly concerning privacy. Eventually, the villa ended up in the hands of the imperial family, probably during the reign of Augustus, where it remained for about 100 years. Following that, it passed through a couple of owners, one of whom actually turned it into a ceramics factory for awhile. You can read more about it, and see nifty pictures, here.

So what's it like? Well, long days and strange hours mostly. Also, the joys of being crammed into a 3-bedroom dig residence with 30 other people, or more. Add in a bit of uncooperative weather, and the never-ending stream of Indiana Jones jokes, and archaeology can be a bit of a hard slog some days.

However, I would have to say that this was an excellent dig season. We answered a couple of questions about the site, raised a whole bunch more, had just about everybody on the team getting along, and ate well (archaeological teams dig the same way armies march: on their stomachs). Most importantly, nobody got hurt. We'll be back at it next year.

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