Monday, June 12, 2017

Diggin' in the Mines

Digging can be frustrating work, especially when you run up against massive amounts of wall collapse and difficult-to-move earth. Compound that with a wall that seems to end in the middle of its course, two significantly different stratigraphic units in the same trench, and an olive tree whose roots staked their own claim years ago in that same dirt, snaking their way through rock and rubble, and you get a very interesting (and did I say frustrating?) work day, to say the least.

The Coal Mines

Luckily I’ve had the fortune in my first season here at Cosa of digging with some real badasses. As difficult as our passes may be at times (rock, meet maddox), and as filthy as we all may be at the end of the day (our trench has been lovingly dubbed “the coal mine”—see below for evidence), it helps to know that everyone with whom you share trench duties takes their work seriously, to the point where it’s been difficult for me to keep up with them. These guys work their tails off and its been awesome digging alongside them.



**Not pictured—Jay (see his blog post below) and Sophie (sorry, Sophie, I don't have a picture!!)

While frustration might abound, we did come across two interesting finds at the end of the day on Wednesday. The first was something I came across while moving through a significant layer of rubble—a brick with a strange, raised triangle on one side. A weird brick stamp, I thought. But no one seems to have seen anything like it. Perhaps it is a marker of the production process? Possible. Jay seems to think that it is a map pointing towards Hannibal’s gold. He’s probably right. It pointed East, after all.

It turns out, though, that the triangle pointed to another find. This second object was…unique. I’m not sure I can really even describe it, as modern aesthetic terms can’t capture its essence and singular beauty. I can’t reveal any more at this point, as it needs to be analyzed and interpreted by experts familiar with similar forms of art. We call it the Venus di Cosa, and the closest representation I can think of is below.

Pretty sure Boticelli saw the Venus di Cosa before painting this.

Besides these two finds, though, we have managed to find hundreds of pieces of pottery, some nails, many bones, and a few brick stamps—all in just over half-a-meter of depth. It may not be glorious, but Andrea and Darby assure us that the next half-meter will be kinder to us. We can only hope, but for now we can at least enjoy the work, the company, and the finds. I’m sad to be leaving half-way through the season, as I’m sure there are many interesting features just below our feet. And, of course, there is the fact that I have to leave my trenchmates, from whom I’ve learned so much. One thing’s for sure though. Hannibal’s gold is out there.


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