This spring has been one full of many different events in my life and that of my Scavi family. That pairing may seem odd but it is the best way for me to describe how I think about this word. I know Scavi is the Italian for excavation, related to the verb scavo to dig but Scavi is family to me. I’ve been working on different digs in Italy for 9 (soon to be 10) summers. And field excavation as many blogs will share are a challenging and expensive endevour which is not for the faint of heart. I have encountered over 500 different people during my excavations.
The people who have suffered with me year in and year out to teach field methods are the ones I find counting in my family. The ones who come to conferences or organize them are family. The ones who help those among us without access to libraries are family. And the ones who weep and laugh with us over past field seasons are family.
I am sharing this all because I have seen my Scavi family work wonders this year in supporting one another. Earlier this year a former excavators tragically passed. He only dug for 2 years at the Poggio Civitate but that is still enough time to have become part of the family that forms in those few weeks. These family members came out in droves to remember him. Some have sent flowers, others called his girlfriend (another former excavator), and yet others shared uplifting stories about him on social media to his social network. One even flew out to Colorado to join me at the funeral. No matter how they did it, all came together to help celebrate his life and comfort his girlfriend. It was a wonderful thing to witness and be apart of after such a terrible event.
Then this past week, I was given the chance to present at the Seventh Conference of Italian Archaeology. My friend Eóin did a wonderful job of organizing it. The amazing thing though was even with all the moving parts of the conference needing his attention, he still found time to take me out for dinner and a pint on my first night in Galway. I really appreciated that small gesture. I could have been left to my own devices but Eóin went out of his way to make sure I was welcomed in his town. My whole time there was really a wonderful experience, and it started on such a good note because of his kindness.
My idea of Scavi as family is not unique to excavations, any group who goes through periods of stress and confined grouping will see it. It is however one point that is sometimes over looked when talking about field excavations. It is an idea I try to pass on to my assistant trench masters. Treating these groups like family helps everyone. It helps us be nicer to one another in the field, and to support one another back at home. It is why Scavi for me is family.