When I started this summer I had the grand idea of writing posts about archaeology through the five senses. Well I got sound down and drafted smell but may not make it to touch, taste and sight. Who knows maybe when I am overwhelmed with grading in a month I will take a break and post about those senses. But for now the smells of archaeology.
Poggio Civitate is 26km south of Siena in the middle of farm land. Therefore most of the smells one experiences are outdoors. Often in the morning while walking up to site when everything is still damp from dew you can smell fresh cut hay or the shit of sheep who travel through those fields after the harvest. There is the smell of diesel wafting from the combines that have been up harvesting earlier than I care to imagine.
During the day on site there is the smell of dirt and sweat mostly, and if it is a day after heavy drinking that sweat will smell mostly of gin and red wine. When we are clearing for a new trench or cutting out a stump, wood chips and cut branches will fill the air. There is the rare occurrence of rotten eggs when we find a piece of pietra fetida. At lunch time there is the smell of fresh fruit and deli meats.
In the afternoon if you are unlucky you will smell a rainstorm rolling in. And if you are lucky it is the hot tar rising from the road. At night the smell of pasta and grilled meets, smoky grills and spilt wine permeates the Scavi house. After dinner, cigarettes, espresso, and beer come through the hotel bar.
It is amazing how all these smells come together to create and remind a person of excavating at Poggio Civitate.