12 June 2010

Vicus vBlog 2

Installment #2. Took me a few days to get the audio done (but it's my third post today!).

The Anthropologist's View from my Window

The place we're staying at hosts wedding receptions on the weekends and our kitchen overlooks the garden where they party. Today we got a great view of an interesting wedding game, in which the groom dons what appears to be a large banana with a needle attached to its end and the bride a belt of balloons which the groom bursts using his, uh, banana.

First identifiable coin of the season

While I was off in Perugia on Friday, one of the teams found two Roman coins, one of which was in excellent condition. Although we believe the stratum it was found in is essentially the bottom of the plough zone, and so not very informative for dating any phase of the site, it's always fun to find a nicely preserved coin. The obverse has the profile of Faustina the Younger, the cousin and wife of Marcus Aurelius and mother of Commodus (of Gladiator fame), while the reverse, shown here, has the goddess Juno with her favorite bird, the peacock, to her left. Faustina is called "Augusta" on the coin, a title she was given in AD 161; she died in 175 after a trip to the Roman east with Marcus, so the manufacture of this coin can be fairly narrowly dated. (Ooh, and I took this picture with my nifty new tripod, which lets me do macro shots like this even in low light.)

06 June 2010

The Fleet

With 10 students, three faculty and a couple of family members to boot, we needed more than one car this year, so we got three (at least for a few weeks). The two we got from the agency at the airport in Rome are identical: "Natural Power" Fiat Puntos, i.e., ones that run on regular gas or methane (CNG). Methane filling stations are a bit hard to find, but there's one just outside Todi, a slight detour on a road we take fairly regularly, so no big deal. I filled up the methane tank yesterday, a first for me. Overall it's supposed to cost about half of what gasoline cars do per kilometer driven. The car automatically switches over to methane once it starts up, assuming there's methane in the tank, then switches back if the methane runs out. Our biggest problem with them so far is that they're identical, so we have to be sure to grab the right key, or take both sets. I'm thinking about treating them like the ubiquitous black luggage and tying a ribbon around the antenna of one. Otherwise a big "1" and "2" in soap on the doors. :-) Compared with last year's diesel Bravo, they're dogs though; not nearly as much power.

Car 2 is a pale yellow diesel Fiat Qubo. Very easy to tell apart from the other ones, and kind of like the Nissan Cube. I have not driven it yet, but Rangar Cline tells me that it rides a bit high, but has better pick-up and power than the Puntos.
Oh yeah, five students arrived safely yesterday. We picked them up at the Orvieto train station and got them into the apartments in Massa. Four more are on their way as I write, and one seems to have missed a connection due to a flight delay. Not quite sure where she is, but hopefully on a plane somewhere approaching Italy. Opening dinner tonight and on to the site tomorrow. We've had a few good days of sun now, so the water table should at least be falling, if not actually down below the level of our excavations.