Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gabii 2011 • first week

Monday 20th June
Monday morning was fiercely hot and more humid than it has been - but no matter, we were on-site with nearly our full complement of staff and students. Since this was 'day one', the morning was given to orienting newcomers and re-orienting returning hands. Nicola Terrenato welcomed the group to Gabii and we also were briefed on various safety matters by Carlo Monda. Tours of Gabii's urban area and Iuno sanctuary were followed by tours of the various excavation areas. After lunch, students divided themselves into their respective excavation groups and got to work cleaning their sectors. For those of us watching them, their excitement was evident - as is ours as we begin another season's work at Gabii. In the early evening we re-convened to discuss documentation procedures for this year's excavation.

Nicola Terrenato welcomes the team.
Students introduce themselves to the group
Cleaning begins in Area D
Marcello Mogetta discusses stratigraphic recording.
Tuesday 21st June
Day two! Today was a beautiful day - sunny, but with our favorite Gabii breeze that cools but also creates oh-so-fun dust devils that zoom across the site. We also were joined by our sometimes orbiting friends: military pilots screeching across central Lazio, touch-and-go landing practice at Fly School Rome, and the mowing crew of the SAR. So, a busy day on the site! Once on-site today, everyone went straight to it. In Area B we have cleaning operations to complete the excavation and documentation of structure mostly exposed in 2010. In Areas C and D  a similar story is to be found, with lots of cleaning to be done to isolate features revealed by baulk expansions this spring. Since so much surface cleaning went on today, it was much fun to orbit around the site and see student reactions to artifact recovery. Even if only a sherd contained in a non-contextualized 'zero' layer, that first artifact can be a profound experience. It is particularly delightful to watch a meaningful understanding come across the face of a student whose prior experience has been with archaeological materials on the printed page or in the museum case - in one's hand it is a different story. Similarly, pottery washing in the lab, accompanied by instruction from Abby Crawford (BU), seemed to register with all involved. All in all, a good and productive day. 

Tim Hart (Michigan / IPGRH)

Aaron Chapnick (Buffalo) recording a feature with students.
Wednesday, June 22nd
The team seems to be getting into its daily rhythm - wake up, bus, on-site to gather tools, and off to work. We are operating three excavation areas again this year, thus three teams at work, plus the group in the finds processing lab and the topography team. From the directors' point of view, it is enjoyable to orbit the site and watch these groups working together. Today cleaning progressed and new excavation is underway in our Area C.

Zoe Fox (Bryn Mawr College) in Area B.

Jamie Sewell, AJ Chrapliwy (Michigan), and Evan Goldstick (Michigan) in Area C.

Jamie Sewell works on a section drawing.
Thursday, June 23rd
Today was an intensely hot day on the site. Excavation of an imperial cappuccina-type inhumation burial advanced significantly, as did work on section drawing in a modern feature in area C. Students are also rotating through the finds and environmental processing labs, learning the important ceramic typologies to be found at Gabii and assisting the environmental staff in recovery of ecofacts from soils samples. This process of environmental sampling stands the real chance of producing important environmental data like carbonized seeds and bones that can eventually help to reconstruct important aspects of the lifeways and diets of the inhabitants of the ancient city.

Supervisor Claudia Melisch works in Area B.

Samantha Lash (Michigan) and Austin Raymond (Davidson) in Area B.

Sabian Hasani (Michigan) in Area D.

Lauren Coughlin (UMBC) in Area D.

Friday, June 24th
Today, the final day of week one, happened under serene skies with a touch of cloud cover. It was a shorter day as the Soprintendenza elected to close the archaeological area earlier than usual, but nonetheless a great deal of progress was made in our excavation areas. All three areas are poised to move into stratified deposits in week two, the prospect of which is of course exciting. It is also evident that the 2011 team is developing a good camaraderie already at this early date.

Students work with Abby Crawford (BU) and Laura Wilke (Cornell) in the finds processing lab.

Emanuele Casagrande Cicci surveys in Area C.

Claudia Melisch, Alessia Nava, and Sabrina Zottis.

Andrew Johnston (Harvard) with students Jackson Vaughn (Kalamazoo), William Milvaney (Davidson), and Christina Cha (UCLA) in Area C.

Friday, June 17, 2011

...and we're back at Gabii

On what proved a lovely and temperate week of weather in central Italy, the Gabii Project team got back to work on-site. Field director Anna Gallone and colleagues have been working for the previous two weeks to prepare the site, extend some excavation sectors, and generally make ready for a good season; today marked the start of that season with a group of our core staff showing up for work. We all return to Gabii charged with energy for this year's campaign, which promises to be a campaign in which we complete sectors that have been the focus of work over the previous two seasons and also begin to explore newly expanded portions of other sectors. All of these sectors, of course, coming together to help tell what is proving to be a complicated story of urban ups and downs in the ancient city.

Our work this week focused on the preparation of the excavation site for the arrival of the full team on this coming Sunday, June 19, and the completion of various excavation tasks remaining in our 'Area A' from 2010. We are pleased to welcome back many returning staff members - as well as a record number of returning undergraduate students. We will again be joined by students from the Summer Program in Archaeology of the American Academy in Rome, as well as by several recent alumni/-ae of the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies in Rome. We hope you will watch this space for updates throughout the season, as well as take the opportunity to follow us on Facebook or Twitter. We'd also like to encourage you to check out our student blog, Ager Gabinus.

Anna Gallone and Marcello Mogetta