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The aims of excavation in Vescovado di Murlo this summer were wholly met. Our previous hypothesis that the linear stone feature and ovoid stone feature, revealed in VT7 and VT8 respectively in 2015, was part of a loggia/courtyard type space was however, radically altered. It strongly appears that the \x91floor' uncovered in VT7 was not indeed an ancient surface; instead the ancient surface was much lower, perhaps as much as 50cms lower. Instead this season we revealed in VT11 and VT13, the western extent of the linear stone feature which extended a total of c 7.70m running roughly East-West from the South-Eastern section wall of VT11 for 5m, and then runs west for another c. 2.7m into VT13. It then turns at a nearly right angle to the north in VT13, and runs roughly north-south extending 2m and terminates into a white-yellow chalky soil, that is highly suggestive of a virgin soil type known in the locality.

In all areas excavated in Vescovado this season ( VT11 , VT12 , VT13, VT14 ) we revealed an ancient cut into the natural topography of the slope of the hill in the locale of Colombaio. It appears that a ditch was cut some 5m wide at its maximum width and slopes downwards in a truncated shape to a maximum width of 3.2m. It was in this ditch that the linear stone feature was revealed. Architecturally it varies with five to seven different courses of stones, averaging a surviving height of 1.25m. The linear stone feature was constructed 1.7m from the lowest part of the south cut into the ditch; its width varies from .6m to .7m, and the northern face of the linear stone feature is roughly .6m from the lowest part of the north cut into ditch.

In VT13, the linear stone feature turns at a near right angle to the north for 2m. The ditch continues for nearly another 2m past the western extent of the linear stone feature. As the linear stone feature turns the natural surface appears to slope upwards and the coursing of the feature decreases in number. The width of the linear stone feature is, however, somewhat wider, being over 1m in parts.

Our tentative conclusion is that this linear stone feature and perpendicular turn is the remains of a wall. Its function is not certain, but we have a number of possible interpretations. The wall may have served as a boundary wall for the community living in Vescovado, perhaps a habitation area immediately upwards to the north-west, while the cut into the ditch south of this wall may have acted as a path around this boundary. The wall is robust and in all likelihood the wall was probably higher in antiquity as the uppermost course is comprised of small and often loose stones that were presumably capped by at least one course of larger and solidifying stones. The wall may, therefore, have served as a defensive feature of some form, or simply as a manifestation of the limits of the urban community.

The materials recovered in all of the Vescovado trenches are equally intriguing, but do not obviously associate themselves with the function of the areas excavated in 2015 and 2016. The entire ditch on either side of the wall was at some point filled with an abundance of roofing tile, large quantities of pottery, a good amount of bone, and other materials that were less frequently recovered during the course of excavation. For instance in VT12 a large fragment of the top of a human skull was found lying above and below a compaction of roofing tile and pottery. Owing to the nature in which the pottery was largely well preserved with many good examples of nearly intact vessels coupled with the large amount of roofing tile, it seems likely that either one or many structures were either dismantled or destroyed in the immediate vicinity and were deposited into the ditch and its associated surfaces to cover the wall and render it unusable. The pottery, especially, those of Greek origin and Italian black gloss wares suggest a terminus post quem of the last quarter of the 4 th century BC for this event.

In VT 13 the wall continues for 2.7 meters before turning to the north. The western face of the wall turns at a near 90 degree angle with large stones forming the corner. The largest of these stones is placed directly in the corner with visible dimensions of 85 cm wide by 46 cm tall, overlapped by a stone 64 cm wide by 54 cm tall. Small to medium sized rocks were placed around the large stones, which can been seen at nearly 2 meter intervals. On the eastern face of the corner a lower coursing of medium sized rocks projects out about 30 cm serves as the footing of the wall.

The fill, which seems to be materially and chronologically the same as the fill found in VT 7 , 8 , 10 , 11 , 12 , and 14 , was found on both the north and west face of the wall. Both sections into the fill were excavated fully to a depth of about 1.5 meters from the level of the top coursing. A cut made into virgin soil in the north was revealed, which sloped dramatically towards the bottom of the wall. On the western face of the wall the northern cut into virgin soil was also found, as well as the western edge of the rectangular cut. The western edge of the rectangular cut was made visible in the western baulk wall of VT 13 and at the bottom of the sounding in Locus 18 . The pottery of Greek origin and Italian black gloss wares suggest a terminus post quem of the last quarter of the 4 th century BC.

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Suggested Citation

Nora K. Donoghue. "VT 13 (2016-08-13):359-362; Conclusion from Italy/Vescovado di Murlo/Upper Vescovado/Vescovado 13/2016, ID:723". (2017) In Murlo. Anthony Tuck (Ed.) . Released: 2017-10-04. Open Context. <>

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