Evidence of ancient occupation in Vescovado di Murlo has been well established; tombs with materials dating from 6th to the 3rd century BCE have been previously reported from the Tinoni area of the town. Furthermore, in the 1970s, during the construction of the SP 34 roadway, traces of ancient industrial activity were uncovered and excavated in a rescue operation in the Colombaio area. This revealed the architectural remains of two furnaces along with a fragment of a wall immediately south of the apertures of the larger of the two furnaces. Pottery recovered here suggests a date between the late-4th to the early-3rd century BCE.
More recently it was at this site in 2006 that an exploratory excavation
took place, led by the Poggio Civitate Excavation Project. The investigations explored the previously identified areas of 4th and 3rd century BCE industrial activity (see VT1 ) and uncovered traces of an earlier furnace, as well as traces of a possible domestic space whose pottery potentially dates from the 6th century BCE and appears to be contemporaneous and comparable to fabrics recovered from the monumental complex on Poggio Civitate.
Notably the 2006 investigations revealed another forno (see VT6 ) directly south of the structures uncovered in the 1970s. Moreover, an Attic red-figure sherd, dating to c. 500 BCE, along with some bucchero and buccheroid wares from the 6th century BCE
In 2015 further excavations took place 5m to the west of this site, in the south-western half of what was a tennis court constructed in the 1980s. This area is c. 5m higher than the areas previously investigated. From the information available it appears that the area where the tennis court was constructed was scrapped and a fill of stones, clay, sand, and other materials was used as the foundation for the court. Four trenches were excavated in 2015 ( VT 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 ).
In VT7 a wall with multiple courses, running roughly east-west, and seemingly a continuum of the one to the east revealed in the 1970s operations. To the south of the wall a floor surface was revealed which had numerous upturned and largely intact vessels. Above this floor surface a large tile packing was uncovered also. In VT8 , c. 1.5m south of the east-west wall a large (c. 1m diameter) circle of stones in coursing were reveale. This feature has been initially interpreted as a column base. Finally, in VT10 , a rip-rap/gully feature was revealed which abutted the east-west wall to the north, and was lined with tile and other materials.
This may have been a drainage feature. Initial interpretation has concluded this area was a courtyard covered with a roof as a \x91loggia' space. Moreover, numerous large fragments of storage vessels support this initial conclusion.
Consequently, in summer 2016 the aim of excavations is to further explore further to the west to find further evidence to support or challenge our hypothesis. As at least half the north-west area of the tennis court is available to explore, we will concentrate excavations there.
The aims of excavations are:
1. To consolidate our understanding of the stratigraphy of this area of Vescovado di Murlo. This should clarify the dating
of the structures previously discovered.
2. To clarify our understanding of the natural topography of this part of Vescovado.
3. To clarify the function(s) of the previously discovered structure(s), in particular the nature of the possibly courtyard.
4.To determine the extent of previously discovered structures.
5. To investigate the relationship between Vescovado di Murlo during the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, and the inhabitants of the monumental structures on Poggio Civitate.
6. To better understand ancient activity in Vescovado di Murlo following the destruction and abandonment of the settlement on Poggio Civitate.
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