Saturday, June 13, 2015

Halfway Point

The second week of excavation concluded with an action-packed day as we worked against the clock to finish various projects before the weekend! Before our day was abbreviated by intermittent cloudbursts, the team in Central Sounding 1 was very excited to find fragments of opus signinum (some in a better of state of preservation than others...) and patches of plaster still attached to our wall. The day was mostly spent on the delicate task of revealing and cleaning those findings so they can be fully documented, and the group became very familiar with our selection of brushes--naturally, material that has been buried in soil for many centuries can be a little temperamental when it is suddenly exposed to air and sunlight, so caution was the order of the day! Laying aside the pickaxes that had helped us move efficiently through layers of topsoil and dumping, the Central Sounding team switched to careful troweling and brushing before covering our new findings with a protective layer of geotextile when it began to rain lightly in the afternoon.

Sophie uses a soft paintbrush to remove soil from delicate fragments of wall plaster
It's amazing to look back at pictures from the first week and see how much soil has been removed from the 3m x 3m trench! The wall near the south edge of Central Sounding 1, Wall E, provides a useful measuring stick for our progress--its height increases in proportion with the depth of our trench since the highest preserved course of stones in the wall was uncovered almost immediately below our topsoil layer.
A view of the wall when it first began to emerge last week...
Looking a little more wall-like at the beginning of this week...
And as of Friday, Wall E is now almost waist-high!

Updates from elsewhere on site:
  • The Western Cistern 2 team has become almost invisible as their trench walls are now above head level and they must enter the trench via ladder! They continued to clean their lovely herringbone floor and a wall with traces of plaster and marble facing. Since fragments of the same washbasin base have been found in both Western Cistern 2 and Central Sounding 1 over the past week, both teams look forward to the possibility of investigating the relationship between their trenches!
  • Taking a temporary hiatus from their own trench, the members of the Eastern Puteal team joined in the increasingly complex efforts to remove excavated material from the Bucket Room, which grows deeper by the day. As several people are now needed to ferry buckets of soil and rocks from the bottom of the trench into daylight for sifting, their help is much appreciated!
  • The team in Facade Sounding 5, now expanded to the south, has seen the payoff for days of pickaxing and uncovered the edge of the road which connects to their staircase and threshold!

With two weeks of digging left to go, spirits are high and we're looking forward to seeing what new discoveries await us in the second half of our season at Cosa!

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