Week 1

My wireless card is still not working correctly with secure routers so since most of the students are at il Palio (the horserace) I am using the unsecure internet behind the hotel.

The excavation has started off great this year. I am living in an apartment in a section of town called Tinoni (this is separate from the rest of the students). It is great since I have a kitchen and hot water all the time. Today we got
off the hill at 12:00, and while the hotel’s hot water is off till 4 (since Signora the owner thinks it will save money) I was able to take a hot shower. This weekend I am going to make full use of the kitchen and roast a small chicken. I am also enjoying the apartment even more since I got a set of ear plugs. Joe, my roommate, is a horrific snorer.

The excavation has been going well too. I have been working since Sunday (although a few of the days were not full work days). Last year I learned how to use the transit (a surveyors tool used to find straight lines and if you have a tape measure and a known point you can find an elevation) this year it was my task to lay out base lines
and datum points for the trenches. The base lines are used to find the corners of the trench, while the datum point is used to measure how deep things are in the trench. This may sound like a great and honorable job, well it only half is. Our transit is so old that it is a huge pain in the ass to use, if you look at it the wrong way it becomes unlevel and then you need to fiddle with it. After much frustration, re leveling and cutting down plants in my line of site I finally finished all the work so hopefully I will not have to do any more with it.

I also have my own trench this year. Last year I dug with Andi, but this year they separated us. I am digging in an area called Civitate A. They have found evidence of Iron Age deposits in the area and are looking for more of them. Andi is in an area of the hill that was recently clear cut for fire wood called civitate B. We never were able to do a lot of work here before so they are dropping large test trenches everywhere. It is cool since they have found a robbed out 6th Century BCE tomb here before so there might be more. But it means that Andi and I are not near each other.

My trench this year, however, is full of stumps and angry ant colonies. We have not been able to move much dirt because of the roots but hopefully next week that will change since we spent half of today cutting said roots.

It has been an interesting group of students this year, I have only seen them dig for a day and a half now so I am not sure how all of them will do but some are already shining trough for better and for worse. It is a young group of people most are between 18 and 20, but using my crazy teacher skills I have been able to learn all 32 of
their names (which is a lot harder when you can’t put them in a seating chart). All the staff is impressed how quickly I have learned the names, but I know that the fast way to a person’s heart (and getting them to work for you) is by learning their name.

Tomorrow is Saturday, I hope to get into Siena for a bit of shopping and then come back to Vescovado to get working on my introductory essay for my trench book. Rex and Tony are also having me find and collect all examples of letters drawn on tiles for a paper they are
writing, so I need to organize myself. I am hoping to getting 3-4 students to do most of my leg work for me, but I want to be ready for them so I need to get some prep work done.

Well that is all for now. If my card gets fixed (which it may) I will try to email more frequently if not then I will try to email once a week. Ciao for now.

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About handyatmurlo

I am a Latin teacher at Regis Jesuit High School. I earned my MA at CU Boulder and my BA at UMass Amherst. I have spent my summers working in Italy as an archaeologist at two different sites. One I have worked at for 7 years at Poggio Civitate at Vescovado di Murlo. I have worked at the Villa of Maxentius in Rome for 2 years, before the project ended.
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