Sant' Omobono: week six

MOLA team

During the penultimate week for Alison Telfer and the team at Sant’ Omobono, Rome, signs of pre-Roman settlement become ever more present. 

Digging a deep trench into water-logged deposits presents a number of challenges. The deeper you dig, the more the water there is, so before you can attempt to record (or even see!) the sequence of archaeology, you have to contain the water. It’s a bit like putting your dog into the back room, so that the postman can arrive safely at your front door. If the dog were to bite the postman you may not receive your important letter…or in our case, find the archaeology.

It therefore becomes necessary to dig small holes (sumps) deeper down, into earlier archaeology; after all, water always drains to the lowest point. This process also gives an indication of what lies ahead. As we approach the final week of the season at Sant’ Omobono, this has been particularly important.


The Archaic temple wall is visible at the eastern edge of trench D10. About halfway across the trench is the ‘hole’ or slumped area in the clay, discussed last week. Now that the yellow clay has been removed we have a definite linear feature that has a vertical edge and is probably associated with either the construction of the temple or perhaps with the robbing of its magnificent stone for re-use elsewhere. We have yet to determine if the bank, to the west, has been cut into or if it was formed when the temple was standing, or perhaps earlier. Answering this is one of our primary objectives for week seven.

The yellow clay that sealed these deposits contained a great deal of fantastic bucchero ware pottery sherds. Bucchero was produced by the Etruscans, central Italy’s pre-Roman population. Some of this pottery was recovered by wet-sieving, which illustrates how useful it has been to have the wet-sieving station operating next to the trench.

Friday was the last day on site for about half of the students. They had worked mainly in other areas of the excavation, but a number visited trench D10 to try their hand at waterlogged archaeology, which helped us along and hopefully was an interesting experience for them. Thanks to all.

Why not have a look at previous blogs on week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, or check out the Sant’ Omobono project page on Facebook.

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