After spending yesterday getting acquainted with the site, and a very brief walk through the ancient town, we are finally getting to work clearing out the lapilli from the work area, this season. Last year the project discovered the tomb of Marcus Venerius Secundio and sort of blew everyone’s minds.
This season we will be continuing on, clearing the area immediately surrounding his tomb wall, and examining a small tomb containing two urns: one male and one female. Before any of that happens, we have to move all of the lapilli (pumice) from the eruption and get down to the 79 AD level. We got there around 3pm today, and I have to say, it was really a thrill to expose the large, basalt paving stones from the adjacent Roman road, knowing that mine were the first feet to stand on them, since they were buried by Vesuvius almost 2000 years ago.
The work was a bit tedious — scrape lapilli into a rubber bucket, pass it up to the beginning of the bucket line, and pass it person to person, to the top of the hill. There is a significant mound of lapilli piled up at the top of the hill. This is not easy work in the heat, especially if you aren’t prepared for it. The students working this year are quickly finding out that a majority of archaeological field-work consists of tedium/bucket work/shovel bumming. Just being here is thrilling, and I get a sense that they are starting to absorb the history, or are being absorbed by it, and are falling in love with Pompeii.
We’ll probably be continuing on with the lapilli relocation process for the next 2-3 days. It is unlikely that we’ll find anything in this layer, but it’s always possible that a victim collapsed and died in this strata. We are working well below the fatal, pyroclastic flow layers so, no clusters of fleeing victims where we’re working. Not sure how I’d feel about finding one of those…
I did escape from the site for lunch, today, and walked downtown to the Santuario. A friend I went to high-school with is in Italy, and she made her way down here to say “Hi!” It was kind of surreal to sit in the shade, eat gelato with Sylvia, and chat. It’s a delightfully small world.
Ooh! And, I made friends with three of the resident kittens today. Two gingers, we named them Mack and Cheese, and a little black kitten with copper colored eyes. We call him Apollo and his sister is Diana.