Interactive Digs

June 21, 2019

Pompeii 2019: Week 4


Figure 1: Ivan Varriale and geologist Giovanni Di Maio inspect the paleosols visible at the bottom of Trench IVN.
Figure 4: Cleaning a compact beaten earth surface showing traces of occupation predating the construction of the Vicolo di Championnet in Trench C.
Figure 5: Trench I: sounding from Curti’s 2004 excavations in the northeast corner of the sanctuary (note the string on the south section, originally used to attach a measuring tape for drawing).

Week 4 (June 10-15) has been full of surprises! In two of the trenches (IVN and IIS)We brought work  to conclusion, revealing unexpected finds. In the east portico, we also opened another area (Trench I) in order to integrate the spatial data coming from Trench C, where we plan to focus excavation activities as we close shop next week.

Figure 2: Finds Lab Supervisor Giordano Iacomelli joins fragments of a North African amphora coming from our current excavation below the podium with finds from the 2005 dig underneath the west court of the sanctuary.
Figure 2: Finds Lab Supervisor Giordano Iacomelli joins fragments of a North African amphora coming from our current excavation below the podium with finds from the 2005 dig underneath the west court of the sanctuary.

In Trench IVN we finally reached the natural bedrock (Figure 1). Careful restudy of the materials from excavations carried out in 2005 in the area to the west of the temple, underneath the open court of the sanctuary, has revealed fragments actually join with fragments from the bottom layers excavated by us (Figure 2). This confirms that the sequence of building debris and soil below the temple and the area around it filled a large artificial cut (to quarry volcanic material?), making the presence of an earlier shrine in that part of the site unlikely.

In Trench IIS, in the sector west of the late Samnite alley, we identified a linear cut aligned with the boundary wall of the block. Having removed the small and late party wall whose rubble foundations had been clearly laid through the fill, we eventually exposed a deep covered channel sloping from the south and continuing toward the round shaft (Figure 3). It has now become evident that its function was to feed the round feature with water coming from a catchment area located further south (an atrium?). A closer look to the photomodels of the interior of the round shaft demonstrated the presence of a hole, patched up when what was originally a cistern functioning with the shallow cocciopesto basin nearby was repurposed as a dump in the final phase of occupation of the room.

In Trench C, we came down to the horizon below the preparation layers of the Vicolo di Championnet. Occupation features, such as small post holes and charcoal and pottery concentrations, are visible on the surface (Figure 4), but at the moment they cannot be associated with structural remains. The same sequence is visible in the south section of a sounding excavated in 2004, which we reexposed to record (Figure 5).  

This week we received a visit from Prof. Elaine Gazda (Michigan) on June 10, while Dr. Bruce Robertson (Mount Allison University) spent the week enjoying multiple on- and off-site tours with our staff and students.

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