Benedict Parfit

Duke's Vulci Excavation

A normal day of excavation
A normal day of excavation

Vulci, Italy: Summer, 2016

Research Travel Award Report:

Receiving funding to go to Italy allowed me to pursue a remarkable opportunity. Italy is a land of fantastic ruins and still-undiscovered treasures. Seeing sites at first hand, being able to walk through the ruins of Pompeii or wander the corridors of the Coliseum, I marveled at the expertise and scale of ambition of the Ancients. I was able to reconcile everything that my textbooks taught me but could not fully convey the reality.

One of the most memorable things that the Vulci 3000 Project has afforded me was with the opportunity to work first hand with finds, such as ceramics, glass and coins. One of the main tasks was to find pieces that we could then use a photo scanner on to recreate the fragment in 3D. This in turn allowed us to create a cross section profile through computer analysis, revealing the entirety of the original piece. Being able to spend time cleaning and studying these pieces, I found that I was able to familiarize myself closely with the different styles and types of objects I was dealing with. The trip also provided me with a different view of ancient pottery as the majority of pieces that we view in museums are pristine grave goods (often specifically created as an unused piece), whereas in Vulci I was dealing with rough, sometimes half-finished pieces that were often marred by wear and tear.

As a member of the Vulci 3000 team I was provided with some very valuable extra opportunities. We had access to many restricted or closed sites, such as the Tomb of François and the necropolis of Tarquinna. The highlight for me was being able to explore the (now closed) Cucumella tumulus, the largest Etruscan tomb in Italy. It was remarkable wandering around the narrow tunnels and helped me to further understand the engineering feats of the Etruscans.