In September 2018, after being awarded a C.E Stevens Scholarship by the Faculty of Classics, I attended a two-week archaeological field school in Tarquinia, Italy, one of the most famous Etruscan sites in the country, led by Dr Charlotte Potts (Oxford University) and Prof Giovanna Bagnasco (Milan University). Famed for its incredibly rich painted tombs, we spent the majority of our time working on the so-called Civita complex, the earliest religious buildings on the site. We were treated to spectacular archaeology, covering a multitude of phases from the Iron Age to the late Hellenistic. I personally worked on the infill of Archaic wall foundations, trying to recover dating material crucial for relative stratigraphy which could offer a date for a newly discovered structure.
Each afternoon we were given a presentation, some generally relating to the Etruscan Civilisation, and some more specifically focusing on the archaeology of Tarquinia. We were also given a series of site visits, spending two days at the beginning of the field school in Rome, visiting the Capitoline Museum and Villa Giulia, guided by experts on Etruscology from the University of Rome, as well as being given a very privileged tour and induction to the British School of Rome. We were also given a tour of Gravisca, the Etruscan port-town connected with Tarquinia, where we were shown “ground-breaking” finds of possible new structures freshly revealed by the excavators.
Being most interested in ceramics myself, I spent a large amount of time working on the processing of the pottery fragments from the site under the instruction of Prof Giovanna Bagnasco. This included identifying the different pottery types, ascribing dates to the diagnostic fragments and drawing the more complete pots for inclusion in the upcoming publication on the site.
Overall, I will take away from my experience not just the incredible mountain of knowledge I gained on the Etruscans, but also the amazing friends I made in the Italian excavation team, and the information and skills they taught us on excavation techniques carried out in Italy as opposed to other experience we had in British archaeology.
Oliver Croker (BA Classical Archaeology & Ancient History)