Rain Delay Due- Importance of Water Musing

So it has rained again and we are delayed again. Not much has changed, most of yesterday was spent helping out in the Magazzino with the back log from 2013 and 2014. I found a perverse pleasure in typing up SU sheets. Last night as we all were going to sleep another huge storm rolled into the Maremma and I found myself thinking about the perception of a storm like that. 

For the modern archaeologist it was taken as one of dread and frustration. With the excavation units too wet we won’t be able to continue work in the trenches, which takes away work days from trying to answer our research questions about how the bath rooms communicated with one another and how a Roman would have experienced these baths. We also were a little shocked (maybe scared but no one will admit to that), the storm was right on top of us and some of the claps of thunder shook the windows. 

 But with our footprint tile and the conversation I had with my girlfriend, Sara, about that started down a train of thought about the Ancient Cosans. They lived up on a hill which is one of the high points in the area, so they are a little more exposed and closer to the storm. How would they feel about the storm? Fear, Joy, Frustration? Cosa has no natural springs and instead there are tons of cisterns everywhere (I got to work in one last year and this year you can visit another cistern that was under the basilica). These cisterns are the major way they get water (I don’t agree with the theory that a bucket system would have conveyed fresh water up from the port area). So would they be happy about last night storm since it meant their water supply was being renewed? I have to imagine that the person who made the footprint in the tile might have sacrificed a little cake at their family Lararium (shrine to household gods) as an offering for some more rain. 

I also started thinking about how the Romans would have checked for weather. All afternoon people were obssessivly checking all the different weather apps that were available to us. It got a little ridiculous about how much faith we were putting into the different reports and percentages (in the end it rained and that is all that mattered). I wonder how my Roman would have dealt with weather predictions. Would they have prayed to the gods, or known because clouds formed over the Agentario and local knowledge has it that clouds there mean rain? These are obvious questions that we would have a hard time answering but they are the type of question that really brings into focus the fact that we aren’t digging up some alien culture (although it feels that way a times) but we are looking at past humans who breathed, laughed and died like we all will some day. Memento mori I guess.

The Argentario with half a ‘cap’ on it- Darby, one of the professors says “if the Argentario wears a cap, the Orbetellans bring a hat” since it means rain

Ciao till next time. 


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 three different sites. One I have worked at for 10 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. I also spent 2 summers at the FSU excavations in Cosa.
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