Monday, 27 June 2011

The First Week and Weekend

I guess its a testament to how busy and tiring archaeology here is that it has been so long since my last update, although to be honest, the internet can be a bit of a tempermental biatch. But I did get around to putting up some pictures, so I think that makes up for it a little.

Excavation
This has been pretty awesome since I was last on here, despite the fact that I am itching and sore from head to foot. There are so many mosquitos, and I got stung by a bee/wasp/hornet last week which was quite painful. Last week I had my first finds lab rotation, which I really enjoyed. I was with some really cool people, with some music playing sitting in the shade. So already I was quite happy. Washing pottery is a bit repetitive, but its exciting to discover what pretty things hide under the dirt. You find some cool shapes, decoration and colours which Abby gave a quick tutorial on recognising different glazes, slips, fashions etc. Only complaint is that the stools make my ass hurt like hell, to be coarse. In terms of what we have been digging in my area....I defined my rubble wall, found a whole section of dressed wall that had been robbed out. And started exposing a room floor. This was so much easier in some ways from the rubble wall - there is a crushed tufa floor and its very obvious where it is. Unfortuantely you move a whole lot more dirt faster, so there was a lot of pick-axing and shovelling which my back and such did not like that much, although my knees approve of the decrease in kneeling and squatting. We found huge cuts in the floor, which we haven't excavated yet, but we think are later cuts, that have damaged the structural integrity of the floor. This is a little repititive compared to one area that found an infant burial buried in a large jar buried in a cut into the bedrock. Very jealous. Also of the several graves in Area B. Grrr. But I love the people I get to work with, its a really friendly fun environment, so I don't mind too much atm. If we find a dead baby, my area will be swarming with important high-up people and it would be less peaceful and fun. But the supervisors are really good at showing you around and letting you know how and why the excavation is going the way it is. And they always answer my questions, which I think I ask an inordinate amount of. We got invited to another Area to take a look at their skeleton Martha in the open grave. It was quite an amazing site, because the grave was undisturbed and skeletally intact. I would have loved to talk to the osteologist that came the next day to excavate and document the bones, but no luck. I'm sure she'll be back, I hear that area found 2 more graves today, which they think may be undisturbed.

Hotel Life
This is all pretty good, the hotel is under construction so there isn't really anywhere to hang out, except the lobby and the fireescape. We usually have some wine outside before dinner, although sitting on the fireescape is a little hard on the butt. Alcohol in Italy is absurdely cheap. I bought totally drinkable white wine for 1 Euro!!! Thats $2NZD, for a whole bottle. And as far as I can tell, its no worse than the $10 wine you get in NZ, very easy drinking, especially as I am not usually a wine person. The spirits is like $8-$12 Euro, which is also absurdely cheap, although mixer can be expensive. The food continues amazing, and the rooms are nice. Except for the tempermental AC and mosquitos, its totally luxurious.

Weekend in Rome
This was...wow. Amazing. Very tiring, and not sure how smart it was to try and do so much, in terms of walking for ages. But, to start at the beginning.....
Saturday
Had a little sleepin, and got the 9.30train to Rome. Seeing as we were going to Rome anyway, we all took our washing with us. I was with two of the girls on the train, and they helped me trek around Termini Station to find a laundromat. Cost $8Euro but they let me leave it there and come get it later, which was pretty helpful. Then we headed down to the main part of Ancient Rome, where Mussolini built Via de Fori Imperiali through all the Imperial Forums, past the Palatine Hill and Forum Romanum to the Colosseum. A nice road, but rankling in its horrible destruction of the archaeology underneath. Sigh. The massive Fascist monument near Trajans Column is great for reminding you what Rome almost would have looked like - all shiny marble and statues. The girls I was with were going to a random Museum, so I was all set to go see the Forum alone, but I randomly bumped into a large group of people for the dig, which was so lucky. But, to say what we saw......The Imperial Forums of Trajan, Nerva, Augustus, Julius Ceasar.... :) And we walked around the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine and down to Circus Maximus. We saw the line and decided to leave the Forum Romanum and Palatine for another day. We wandered down to Tiber and saw the Forum Boarium, then had lunch in the Jewish Ghetto on our way to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was amazing, after all the domes I had seen in Florence and Venice, I had to remind myself that this is a whole lot earlier, which makes the architectural achievement so much more vivid. We then went to the Trevi Fountain, which was hugely crowded but the statues were truly  beautiful. I threw a penny in, and seeing as we came  back the next day, I guess it works. :) We then went to the crypt of the Capuchin/Cappucini monks. You should google them for pictures, because I wasn't allowed  to take any. But basically they are famous for the crypts and preserved skeletons and monk bodies. They have dismemebered most of the skeletons and turned these little rooms into art of skeletal pieces. I was very disturbed, it seemed so.....wrong and tawrdy and disrepectful. I was much more disturbed by the skeletal art, then the complete skeletons, some still with preserved flesh and skin on them, standing along the walls in monk robes, holding crosses. In the last room, there was a sign which said, in several languages "What you are, we once were. And what we are, you will be". After the monks we headed down to the Capitoline Hill, and the Museum there. It was way too quick a visit for my liking, but I saw the Esquiline Hadrian, Commodus as Hercules (so very shiny), the Capitoline Wolf and the Colossus of Constantine (its huge!). The Museum is built over the foundations of the Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, so seeing the huge blocks of ashlar masonry it was built on was quite ridiculous. There was a lot more ancient statuary, and even Baroque artwork, but those were definitely the famous standouts. After that we got dinner at a little pizzeria and headed back to Frascati with our laundry. No crazy drinking that night, the day was crazy tiring - SO MUCH WALKING!!!
Sunday
We started a bit later, taking the 10.30 train, which was a trial as the ticket office was closed, ad we had to change trains half way through. I swear the train ldy was screwing with us when she said we had to get tickets before we got on the second train - that was a close call! But we got to Rome, and headed through the city, over the Tiber to the Porta Porthese - the biggest market in Europe. Its supposedly 2km long! Its called a flea market, but is not one in the traditional sense I'm used to. More just a normal market, although not completely tourist schtick, I didn't see a single souvenir stall, although there were a lot of  clothing and tshirt places. We didn't go the whole way through, after the really long walk, we only stayed for a little while before escaping to get lunch. We planned on getting some lunch, and wandering slowly back to the station, seeing whatever sights we chanced upon. But when we stopped for lunch, a couple of other people from Gabii wandered past. So we went with them to the Baths of Caracalla. I swear we took the most roundabout route, along some motorways and back through the gates of Rome. But we got the Baths, and they were truly monumentally huge!!!! All Roman brick and concrete, but I'm sure they had marble facing that had been robbed out. Its defintely a size impression though. Most of the walls remained practically to their original height, so you got a good idea what it might have looked like in antiquity. Then we raced back to the station, to get the 4pm train, even running part of the way. But we didn't take the most direct route, because I just went for the one I knew. And the bad decision to not take the metro, meant we were too late by a fraction. We were trying to open the doors (pressing the button) and it started to move away. Given that the next one was in 2 hours, we were more than a little pissed. But the two of us sat down at this nice grill in the station, and split an extremely tasty burger. That killed more than an hour, and then we went and ast on the train. Ended up meeting up with other people, two of which we had separated from in our race to the station, and had also missed it. I got sunburnt that day, becasue I was wearing a sleeveless dress. Its a little painful, but fingers crossed I won't peel. One of the guys here got burnt and has these weird bubbles on his skin. Its gross. All in all, it was another crazy tiring day, even if we didn't see as many famous things, but we have Wednesday off for St Peters Day, so if I'm exhausted by then, I will have a chance to rest.
Its almost 10pm, getting close to my bedtime. Time for me to go now. Early busy day tomorrow. Hopefully there will be lots of documentation and paperwork, because right now....the thought of digging makes Sheira a very unhappy girl (apologies for the atrocious third person there)
Sheira

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