Sant' Omobono: week two

MOLA team

Alison Telfer has started work supervising excavation of a small trench, D10, at Sant’ Omobono, Rome. Here she reveals what team D10 has found so far…

Greetings from a watery trench!

Yes, we’ve finally hit the water table! It happened on Tuesday afternoon, although not with a bang (as my flatmate envisaged), but with a couple of innocent looking damp patches that turned into a rather determined pool of water at the eastern end of the trench.


We removed a large dump of clay that had sizable fragments of volcanic tufa stone in it; below that was quite a different deposit of fragmented capellatio stone. In other words, we are still between the temple podium and the earlier Archaic temple deposits. The capellatio dump slopes down to the east, hence the water effectively finding its level at that side. It was action stations with the pump. A sump was dug in one corner, expertly lined with wood by Luca and Marco (two of the students from the University of Calabria). The pump was then put into a bucket with small slats in it to act as a silt trap. It works beautifully!

Wednesday afternoon was spent drawing the stratigraphy (archaeological sequence) in the sections (vertical cuts of the trench sides), prior to the sheet piles that support the sides of the trench being lowered on Thursday morning. It was a first attempt at section drawing for Ida and Assunta, the other two Calabrian students in team D10, and they did a really good job. In fact, I’m really impressed by the dedication of the whole team, bearing in mind the slightly soggy and testing dynamics of the trench. Elsewhere across the site, areas are being either excavated in order to remove 20th-century backfill or cleaned so we can clearly see what we have.

We are using a fantastic camera/ global positioning technique to plan the archaeology, which is called ‘PhotoScan’. It involves taking multiple photographs, rather than previous processes that entail overlaying two or three images. With multiple images, matches in pixilation are cleverly aligned, which create a 3-D image. It’s quite remarkable.

This Saturday, a group of students from Greece, led by Professor Albert Ammerman from New York, are sinking a couple of boreholes (deep narrow shafts)  in our trench, to try to establish what lies ahead for us and if the Archaic temple extends into this area of the site, as it is believed to. Tune in next week to find out what they discovered!

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

  • Research
  • Prehistoric
  • Excavation
  • From the experts

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