A Summer of Loss

Sorry for so long a hiatus on the blog posts, usually it only lasts for as long as the high school students are here but circumstances beyond my control took hold of my summer.

Here we are at the end and I’ve had a wonderful summer again. This year I got to visit many different archaeological sites and museums with wonderful friends. I finally saw Vetulonia with Eóin and Steve, and headed back to Orvieto and Cortona to see the museums there with Ann, Nora, Beth and Dillon. I walked around Chiusi beyond the museum and saw Assisi for the first time. And I also had a wonderful time in Siena by myself discovering new and different parts of that city which I love so much.

But it has also been a season fraught with loss for me personally. It started well before the dig began. We lost a form member of the excavation in February which hit close to home for me.

But then while leading the students through the tombs of Tarquina a thief was leading himself through our belongings. The worst part of the whole ordeal was not the lost money or electronics but the loss of gifts the students had worked on to give their parents and my bag with all the passports safely tucked away from pick pocketers. We were all safe and we got our passports back after a few days and then the flights were rebooked. It certainly gave an experience to the students and but it also dampened my mood. I did learn from the whole time that you can plan for everything and shit will still hit the fan. I was also reminded about how amazing a family Scavi is, Tony and Jason really came through and helped me keep the kids feed and housed for the few extra days. And in a really weird way I was reminded that things are everything- sure the gifts are gone but the stories remain for the kids (it was funny I had a chance to go to mass at St. Clement’s across the street from our AirBnB while in Rome and the gospel was about living a more simple life that week).

Returning from that ordeal, I finished excavating on the hill in T-82 and was moved down into Vescovado to help work on the tennis court excavations in VT-14. The trenches yielded nothing but that isn’t always the point of excavating (absence of evidence and all). It actually gave me a reprieve and space to breath since I wasn’t drowning in artifacts. I could give my assistant a chance to experience writing summaries in low impact scenarios (which is good to get under your belt before you dig a trench with a lot of stuff). And I could help my friends out with their material and get through everything faster. Then suddenly, the dig season was over.

With my remaining time in Vescovado, I took a hike down this strada bianca that is fondly know as the abandoned farm house road. It was a hike of rejuvenation for me and one where I had a blast taking photos. After returning back to Vescovado someone tried to use my camera to snap a photo and reported to me that I didn’t have a memory card in it, well turns out the memory card had gone corrupt and I had just lost the photos from the morning. It was really my last straw for the summer and I needed some time alone to just mourn the loss of my hard work taking photos all morning. After a while (and a poor attempt at retaking some photos from the start of the road) I realized that the memory card was not my own memory, and I will be able to remember the road (especially now).

It was the final reminder that I can try so much to be safe or keep my things safe and it won’t matter. What matters is the friends I have, the places I’ve been and the things I’ve experienced and to enjoy it while I still can.  So really it wasn’t so much a summer of loss, but instead a summer of recentering and reminding of the more important things in life and I now really see it more of a summer of gain.

2016-07-24 16.54.34

Well that is all for my summer. I am finishing this in the Rome airport before my flight to Budapest. So the next few entries will be just travelogue in nature, but I’ll be back soon with more musings on archaeology.




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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