It’s official—the students are here and we are hard at work with season two of the Libarna Urban Landscape Project! With the data collected last season, we now have a better view of the work that needs to be done to fully understand this beautiful ancient city. So, what’s new?
While we might not be digging, the digs are new! Ok, bad pun, but that said, we are in a new location. We loved our time at the church in Serravalle Scrivia, but with nearly double the student body and a few new faces on staff, the LULP has sadly outgrown its community rooms. Luckily, we found a home in Arquata Scrivia, a nearby town which is technically the municipality in which archaeological and modern Libarna are situated. The Volunteer Rangers of the Protezione Civile- Piemonte; Comune di Arquata Scrivia gave us a roof over our heads and enough bathrooms to properly mediate the madness that is 17 sweaty archaeologists. Just as in Serravalle, the people of Arquata have been incredibly welcoming and helpful, we are loving every moment here.
This year, we also have a few fabulous additions to our staff. Trevor Mason, husband to Ashley Mason, our PhD candidate and organizational maven extraordinaire, has been instrumental in keeping us very well fed. While we have Ivy’s Burger Bar to thank for dinners, Trevor is now our resident panini guru and has been introducing us all to the locally produced fixings in our daily lunches. I’m not sure what we’re going to do with ourselves once he leaves in two weeks. All I can say, is we will certainly miss him upon his return to Philadelphia.
We also have a late arrival from Boise State University coming at the end of week one, who will help to further round out our data with GPR mapping of select grids. Professor John Bradford of the BSU Department of Geosciences will be lending us his skills in week two! Last season, we were only able to conduct GPR surveys for a day, but it is such a useful tool, John’s arrival tomorrow is eagerly anticipated.
And, where would we be without our delightful Presidentessa, Melania Cazzulo? While we were able to steal Melania for part of the first season, her comprehensive expertise in the archaeology and history of Libarna, near magical power of her effervescent enthusiasm, and deep passion for the site itself, soon became instrumental to our project. Not only was Melania able to find us our homes away from home for both seasons, this year, she is also a full-time staff member, working in the fields and within the region throughout our 2017 season. While she is honing her English skills, Melania is also giving staff and students alike an intimate view of the region we love.
Machines are people too (at least where our drones are concerned), and Mike Boyles has brought along Dronina’s younger sister Dronita. She’s a slick little model and has already earned her weight in gold and it’s only week one! With crop rotations and a slightly shorter growing season this year, we are all incredibly excited to see what Dronita, Mike, and Sesha can show us. Unfortunately, she had a bit of an accident today and was clipped by a car (long story). She’s alright, and ready for action, but it certainly had us scared for a moment given all she’s been able to do in three days.
There are some things, however, that have not made it into the second year of the project. Speaking of Dronina, she has been given the season off as Dronita takes center stage. And in slightly bigger news, we have changed the name a bit to represent a more targeted research mission. Additionally, we have abandoned the magnetometer… For a tool to be useful, it must first function, and due to the complicated electromagnetic characteristics of the site, magnetometry simply does not work properly in Libarna. We feel that resistivity surveys will be able to fill in the map well and most importantly, provide us with an accurate view of what lies beneath.
Thank you all for following along with this truly special project!