This week,the team of students and archaeologists (myself included) from the Apolline Project commenced their first activities in the field for this summer.
Work-wise, it was a fairly mild week due to permit delays for our excavation in Pollena; we spent most of our time shuffling through the ever-important excavation documentation from the lastseason to assist in managing the database (a component operating behind the scenes of every good excavation). Students were given pottery and fresco analysis lectures and processed (read: washed, labeled, and sorted) thousands of artifacts from last season.
Yesterday and today, however, we did get to venture out to the site in Pollena Trocchia for a tour and a tutorial in drawing archaeological contexts during excavations. Yours truly, accompanied by my fellow field supervisors, Justin and Marcus, led both of these activities for two successful days in the trenches!
A little background: The site at Pollena Trocchia is an ongoing excavation of a Roman bathhouse and potentially (we have yet to fully interpret the remains of the structure in question) a nearby villa that post-dates the 79AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, which buried the well known settlements of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The stratigraphy (soil layers) indicates to us that there were in fact several eruptions of varying magnitude of the nearby volcano, and, more importantly, that the local populace not only recovered after these eruptions, but actually flourished. Maintaining a bathhouse facility the size of the one in Pollena would have required significant economic resources. We are left with an impression that is very different from the understanding local scholarship has established: a region dominated socially and economically by Herculaneum and Pompeii, which, after the 79AD eruption, ceased to remain a socioeconomically viable area for the Romans. This site, combined with others that have been excavated under the directorship of the Apolline Project’s Girolamo Ferdinando de Simone, indicates that there was more to life in the region beyond those two settlements, and that the volcanic eruptions did not mark an end to that life.
We’re capping off a successful week with some drinks on the dig-house’s amazing rooftop with a view. The weekend will be filled with forays into Napoli, laundry, and prepping for our relocation to the new dig site further in Campania, Aeclanum!
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