Sant’ Omobono: week five

MOLA team

Alison Telfer reports on the on-going excavations at Sant’ Omobono Rome and the developments of week five. ..

At the beginning of this week we again compared the level we had reached in trench D10 with that of the known part of the Archaic temple… we were about 20cm below! Where was it?!

Last weekend, two friends from the UK came out for a visit. I suggested that they come to site on Tuesday, rather than on Monday and it turned out to be a good omen. Lo and behold, on Tuesday morning we dug down to a layer of yellow clay at the western end of the trench. We trowelled it back, heading east, and the clay started to dive down. We followed it, only to hit a large dump of tufa (volcanic) stones. It's possible that the stones were used as backfill for some sort of linear hole and at first glance it looks like someone has hacked into the clay and dumped the stones. However, it is also possible that the clay falls away because of an earlier archaeological feature causing it to subside. Only time will tell.

Excitingly the hole matched the projected line that was previously recorded for the temple. There was still no sign of any substantial construction, however, and it looked like the uppermost slabs of the temple podium had probably been robbed. By this time, we were approximately a metre below the level of the temple as known from an earlier trench. We were feeling disheartened.

Late on Thursday afternoon our luck changed. We were lifting the last of the tufa fragments from the yellow clay when we noticed the edge of a tufa block poking through the very eastern edge of the trench. The slab was worked, very large and aligned north east to south west, which is what we would expect for the temple. This was an extremely promising discovery and the team was delighted. Next we need to remove the yellow clay layer. We hope that what we have found this week is just a tantalising glimpse of things to come.

It was Ida's last day on Friday. Ida and Assunta worked extremely hard and threw themselves into the project, which for both of them was their first excavation. I really hope they can continue digging. They possess enthusiasm and an invaluable skill; an ability to mattock and shovel, which are vital if you want to make it as a digger.

Why not have a look at previous blogs on week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, or check out the Sant’ Omobono project page on Facebook.

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