Mass Emails I sent out summer 2006 back

hello, everybody

i'm sitting on the floor (because i have no furniture anymore) in my recently completely denuded apartment, less than four days away from flying off to italy. mixed feelings, in general. not about italy, at all, but about the denuded apartment which i adore and would prefer to drag with me out of this city (harder to pack the whole building, especially since the trees and stream out back are part of the package that i love so much). anyway.

tuesday i fly to italy to do that usual digging in the dirt of pompeii that has come to be the pivotal point in my life. this summer is supposed to be our last with this project (the anglo-american project in pompeii, or AAPP as it will from here on out be refered to) because we have run out of places that we havent already dug. it's done. rather, it will be done after this summer, probably with no little bit of craziness and a LOT of frantic dirt moving. and, as per usual, you poor victims will endure the occassional email from me, going on and on about dirt and students and tourists and campsite activities and amazing discoveries and indiana jones-esque escapades. or you might get three mailings from me when i realize, four weeks into the five week program, that i havent emailed since now for lack of time and the need to do work. we shall see. feel free to send me real ink and paper mail to:
Gruppo Archaeologico Inglese-Americano,
Camping Spartacus
Via Plino, 127, 80045,
Pompei (NA)

ALSO! (this is a major update for most of you as i havent really broadcast this yet), i'm going to University College London in the fall for archaeology gradschool (a masters). so, not only am i running away across the atlantic for the summer, i'm going to be gone for a year at the least. i'll be back from pompeii in mid august, and then i leave again at the end of september for London. so, this is also a contact update - sort of. i dont have any new info as yet cause i havent been told where i'm living and i wont have a phone number till i get there. my email address is staying the same, as is my american phone number, though you wont actually be able to reach me on it. so... email is best.

ok, enough of this long email. more interesting things to come once i'm in italy. let me know if you want off the list, and feel free to forward to other people, i'm sure i've left someone off that's asked to get these.
ciao, USA, see you in a couple months!

hi, all
so three weeks later and i finally get to a computer.

i met a friend from college in rome, all went over without a hitch. flew in at 7:30am, caught a train to the middle of rome, found a hotel in under a half hour, took a shower and hopped on a but to the pantheon where not 10 minutes later chris showed up and we proceded to hot foot around rome for two days. hit several fabulous museums, lots of good food, and got intentionally lost several times. we then drove down to campania and pompeii, got another hotel and hung out in the places i know best: the ancient city, herculaneum, and castellamare. francesco, the man that runs the granita stand just outside the front gate of the pompeii ruins, remembered me and gave us a fabulous discount on granita.

so then season started with a wonderful group of students arriving. they're smart and play hard and have fun and enjoy the difficult aspects as much as all the rest. a good group.

as many of you have come to expect, i talk forever about the ancient city block of 6.1, the block that my project has control over in the north west area of the city. i am not digging there this year. our director has gotten permission to open a couple small trenches in the block that contains the house of the silver wedding (nozze d'argento), so named because the duke and duchess of norway (or something, i'm getting this wrong at the moment) held their silver wedding anniversary in the house as it was newly excavated. my trenches are this the house next door to the house next door to nozze (so two doors down). far far away from the usual block. i have a small group of excellent students, a second year student and an assistant supervisor (also named clare, just to make things confusing). so we've been excavating for a week and a half and just two days ago, found a complete floor across one area of our trench. as per project dictate, this means we can't excavate further. we have some other areas and stuff, but it considerably narrows our space. we'll see what happens.

sunday night was the world cup final which, for those of you not up on your football awareness, italy won! let me tell you, it was something else. we watched the game projected on a sheet at the campsite (probably some 200 people). when italy won on penalty shots, the whole area erupted in fireworks and free alcohol and general merriment city wide. i'll send pictures sometime, it was really incredible.

hope all is well state-side and i'll hopefully be more regularly in touch, though it's getting increasigly difficult with how much stuff i've made myself responsible for.


middle of week four, 6 diggin days left.

the project is in an interesting position. this is supposed to be our last year for excavation, as we have mostly finished the entire block where we excavate. however, the areas that have to be completed this year are large, complicated, and not easy to manage (mind, these are the areas that are still on the original block, not the area where i am). and things are going slowly, for reasons that are both not terribly clear and painfully obvious (but i'm not going to delve further into an explanation than that). so with 6 days left to shift more dirt, we (the supervisors) are realizing how much of an impossibility "finishing" actually is. meanwhile, i'm on the other side of the city, in an inaccessible to tourists area, listening to the birds twitter and being generally unbothered by pressure. which is nice, but i should be helping to finish. oh well, not something i have any control over.

so. my two areas are a small trench in the atrium of a nice sized house, and the back corner of what is thought to have been a garden of the same house. the atrium has been a good deal of deposits of domestic redecoration (really pretty wall plaster that had been torn down from the walls in antiquity and dumped across the room to level up for a new floor) and a drain. simple, really. the purported garden is, indeed, a garden, as we found planting pots (with drainage holes punched in). lots and lots of pottery coming out of the soils and not much else yet. so the archaeology is good, if straightforward. (in answer to a question of my email before, we can't excavate through a floor simply because the project has decided that, on the whole, if a complete and fairly well preserved floor is found, we wont go through it. and that's kind of it).

last weekend was spend holed up in a fantastic hotel with a pool and airconditioning and a bed, good food every night, far away from the dig in general, and an absolutely successful bout of relaxation. mmm mm good.

off time is oft spent helping with the beginning of the new project for next year as headed by michael and briece of AAPP field director fame. i was retaught how to use the EDM (total station for those of you in the know) and have been occassionally helpful in setup for general things. here's hoping everything else goes over well.

this year has been the first year that i've actually felt completely at home in the city. i know my way around entirely, say hello to the custodi, have a permesso of my own to go into the areas closed to tourists, have met the director of the custodi on a couple of occassions, am starting to get a toe hold on the 'pompeii scene'. well, sort of. anyway, more so than before. or maybe i'm just more aware of the pompeii scene.

anyway, going to go get more work done at the moment, then up to site to help with michael's project, and perhaps into sorrento for the evening.

hi everyone

as of one week ago today, all of our (in some cases very deep) trenches have been filled back in by the ritual that is backfill. i love backfill. most of the time this means me with a shovel all day, but this year spoil management and pressing with enough urgency seems to have forstalled the usual late evening panic as the daylight wanes and we're still throwing dirt into limitless holes. last year seems to have made an impression. we were still up on site at nearly 8pm, myself, michael, briece, and rick weilding shovels at an alarming rate, worried that we wouldnt actually accomplish the no-small-feat of filling in the very deep hole my trench team had created. this year, we were done inside of 6pm. enough time to get clean before dinner and the last party festivities. which was kinda strange, i have to admit. anyway, i am still in italy, ostensibly getting some of my own research done, and relaxing. this always seems like a good idea when planned, but sticking around after the group has left is never as great in practice. i miss the people, the rhythms, the daily schedule, the purpose, all that stuff that goes with being part of a very intense program for 6 weeks with 120 people living in close quarters. but i am getting some stuff done, i suppose.

better stories later, i'm in danger of getting nostalgic to a list that likely isnt as interested in my considering the season in retrospect as i am. hmmm... food would probably be good too...


hopped a train to rome yesterday evening. got into town around 7:30, large luggage being lugged behind me, and bee-lined it to the 'last minute hotel' desk where you say 'i want a single room, private bathroom, breakfast, somewhere nearby for 30 euro'. and they laugh at you, but agree to some reasonable price and walk you to the building. thus, i got a great little room painted pink with long flowing curtains over the double doors which open onto a balcony with a wire chair and table set where i ate my delivered-to-my-door breakfast. you can't beat that. you just cant. so today i'm bumming around rome, which normally consists of moving from one cafe to another, punctuated by shopping the summer sales. however, it being august 15, it's ferragosto, a country-wide holiday, and for the most part, the whole world is closed. still enough cafes to get by, but all the necessary shops are barred and locked. oh well.

last night was spent eating pizza a'taglia sitting next to the pantheon, listening to a street performer with a violin. rome has a built in soundtrack which is normally movie quality (barring the guy this morning near the coloseum strumming a guitar and singing mrs. robinson in an incredibly nasal voice, making up the words as he went along to the affect of 'an hers to you mr. so and so').

the last days of pompeii (hah!) were rainy, and fairly productive despite post-dig-blues. as soon as everyone had left, the weather changed, getting almost cold and blustery, raining nearly every day with one absolute blowout storm. which made me ever so glad that i'd packed up my tent and moved to a bungalo when i did. trying to break down a tent in rain for the purposes of storing on site (which therefore must be completely dry to avoid mildew, mold and nastier things) is not a pleasant experience. yay for bungalos.

so tomorrow i head to the airport to brave the baggage restrictions and hope that i make my connection. hope all is well with everyone and thanks for the email back! off i go in search of more coffee (this will not be a long search, i think there's a cafe that will do right next door).