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. Notably the 2006 investigations revealed another – possibly earlier - forno (see VT6) directly south of the structures uncovered in the 1970s. Alongside this a possible floor surface and retaining wall were uncovered in VT2 and VT3, directly to the south of the original 1970s excavations.
In 2015 and 2016 further excavations took place in an area 5 meters to the west of this site, in the northern half of what was a tennis court constructed in the 1980s. This area is c. 5 meters higher than the areas previously investigated. From the information available it appears that the area where the tennis court was constructed in the 1980s was scrapped and a fill of stones, clay, sand, and other materials was used as the foundation for the court. According to information provided by locals who worked on this endeavor the fill came from Buonconvento and was clay near the Ombrone River. Four trenches were excavated in 2015 (VT 7, 8, 9, 10) and four more trenches were excavated in 2016; VT 11, 12, 13, 14.
In the 2015 and 2016 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 VT 13, the linear stone feature turned at a near right angle to the north for 2m. The ditch continued 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 was, however, somewhat wider, being over 1m in parts.
In VT 8, c. 1.5m south of the east-west wall a large (c. 1m diameter) circle of stones in coursing were revealed. This feature has been interpreted as a column base, although a precise function is open to interpretation. Finally, in VT 10, a rip-rap/gully feature was revealed which abutted the east-west wall to the north, and was lined with tile and other materials
Consequently, in summer 2017 the aim of excavations inVescovado are to reinvestigate the areas explored in 2015. Additionally, it appears that the materials in the ditch came from a structure further uphill on Colombaio. Therefore, in VT 16 we will explore further to the north-east on the apex of Colombaio in an olive grove to the north of an residential area on the hill. Here a sounding will aim to recover more stratified material associated with the fill in the tennis court area.
The aims of excavations are:
- To consolidate our understanding of the stratigraphy of this area of Vescovado di Murlo.
- To clarify our understanding of the natural topography of this part of Vescovado.
- To explore a previously uninvestigated area of the hill of Colombaio for evidence of ancient activity.
- To better understand ancient activity in Vescovado di Murlo following the destruction and abandonment of the settlement on Poggio Civitate.
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