Whew! Things got a little busy…

Yes, I had intended to post updates every day, during the project. However, the last several days have proven to be a bit hectic and, now, the field work for this season has wrapped up. We’ve all packed up and gone our separate ways: I’m sitting in an air-conditioned hotel room, in Sorrento. Tomorrow, I’ll take the ferry up to Napoli to pick Lyn up at the airport! Then, vacation begins!!

Our last days on the project were busy with moving a LOT of dirt, discovering three unexpected walls, finding that the burial urns from the small tomb had been removed before the 79 eruption, and bagging 1000’s of ceramic sherds and bone fragments. While the “goal” of this season was to excavate and locate any burials associated with Marcus Vernerius’ tomb, or the small Niche tomb, not finding any was actually very informative. The low walls we found were unusual, and were set down quite a while before Marcus had his tomb built.

In the last week of excavation, we found a second coin (bronze) and some Attic pottery fragments. We found what seemed like an entire mouthful of human teeth, and a few jaw fragments, non of which had been cremated. I was the first person to EVER brush those teeth. Toothbrushes hadn’t been invented in the late Republican period, and based on the 2mm of plaque build-up, you can tell! This guy — I named him Phil, because we found him in the fill-layer — must’ve had serious bad breath.

I also got to work at the ceramics cleaning/sorting table, and spent a day working in the bone lab. Identifying human bones, based on burnt, shattered fragments is a special skill that I never developed. Llorenc Alapont, however, is a wizard. The man can identify a bone fragment based on it’s feel, with his eyes closed. It was something to behold.

I felt much more at home working with the ceramics, having spent a lot of time with potsherds on the Colorado Plateau. Cleaning, sorting, mending, all while working in the shade. We were also set up outside of the Porta Nola Necropolis, so we had quick access to the old city. We were a five minute walk down to the Villa With the Garden, and it’s controversial (to some) charcoal inscription. The House of Orion, just across the street, is also spectacular. I think it might be the best preserved example of Pompeii 1st Style decoration I’ve seen, and the mosaic floor is perfect.

We spent our last day back-filling the excavated area, covering it with gardening cloth and what had to be several thousands of pounds of dirt. It will be safe and protected until the team returns next season, to see what the hell those walls mean…

After one last dinner together at Pizza Oscar, we said our goodbyes and that was that. Now, I’m feeling sleep deprived, and worn out — all in a good way. I’ll post photos of the last week, tomorrow.