Monday, June 27, 2011

Italy Day 3 - Spent my day digging a (Imperial era) grave

Today was the first day that I worked on the dig at Gabii. I wish I could have taken more photos, but since the excavation is still in progress and unpublished, we can't take any pictures of finds, tombs, etc. I spend most of the day digging around a tomb (possibly two) and sifting through the dirt I dug up: I found some beautiful glass pieces, almost iridescent black pottery shards, and...human bones.
I learned SO much today. I learned how to tell the difference between a human bone and an animal bone. I learned that many early Romans buried their deceased children (under age 2) in their KITCHENS. I learned that the people found at Gabii died with lots of broken bones - the result of injuries inflicted on one another, and that most had suffered from severe malnutrition at some point or another in their lives.
One member of the team summed it up best: that archaeology is like a book that you and only you are reading, a book you must destroy page by page as you read, then retell when you've finished. Archaeology is HARD work: I think I seriously lost five pounds in water weight from all the sweating I did despite drinking more than two liters of water. I made a mental note to myself to take Chiara to work on a dig when she is a tween or so: many of the archaeologists are women that are not only extremely learned and worldly, but they can wield a pickaxe in a way that would make Mike Tyson take a few steps back every time they go to pick it up. I also learned today that there is so much to learn: I wish I had a couple more lifetimes to go back and get a couple more degrees - minus the tests and dissertations :)

               The so-called Artemis of Gabii: a Marble, Roman copy of the reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE) after a Greek original traditionnally attributed to Praxiteles. She was found in 1792 by Gavin Hamilton, an amateur archaeologist (read: looter). She now lives at the Louvre in Paris.

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