Liquidated sunshine poured down on the coastal Tuscan hill, where sits the ancient settlement of Cosa, whose landscape is now dotted with olive trees and Roman ruins. Breaking the Piranesi-esque beauty, tufa ruins paired with sprawling nature, are long rectangles scraped free of grass and rock, which lay open and exposed.
In addition to these barren areas, large spaces of tight, careful brickwork are set deep into the ground, revealing, tantalizingly, sections of the bath complex, one of the main features of Cosa. This is where I am working, perched on a small section of earth, high above an open trench, the bottom of which shows an intact floor and large chucks of mortar covered with black and white mosaics. The olive tree shading me shakes gently in the peaceful breeze, a melodic sound that blends with the metallic twang of trowels scraping on rubble comprised of bricks, tiles, and rocks. This is all muted by a pointed rock jutting into my knee. What looked as though it would be another broken terracotta destined for the rock pile turned out to be a piece of architectural relief, decorated with an egg and dart pattern and a female head, although it is badly worn. This discovery was soon joined by the exciting unearthing of a well-preserved brick stamp, still legible, and thus dateable to the reign of Hadrian. These blocks of information are important since they demonstrated an ancient interest not only in using recycled materials but in importing bricks as well. The objects found throughout last week and hopefully through the coming one as well will continue to be scraped out of the ground, in an attempt to better understand the lingering questions that surround the site.