Calabria Redux

I couldn’t blog while I was away, so you all get a long-ish post now on what I’ve been up to. Lucky readers! Ahem…

Italy always overwhelms me. It’s a country of amazing contrasts. Massive scenery and skies, but unfinished looking buildings and roads. Old villages, but sadly filled with older people; all but a few people between 20 and 40 seemed to have left. The people we met were unfailingly lovely. Food, friendship and strong drink was supplied in abundance. We stayed in a village at the gateway to the Pollino mountains called ‘Cerchiara di Calabria’. It’s famous for its bread and bakeries. The comune (sorry, the website plays music) welcomed us very warmly, and put us in their Ostello which was a great base to work from. We worked on 4 glorious and very different sites. I was fed the very best lunch I have ever had on fieldwork (and I’ve been supplied with packed lunches by Geoff Wainwright on a memorable week in Wales!), and met some very small cute dogs, and some enormous ones that I felt it would be rude to take pictures of. I practised my Italian and my Dutch, and now keep saying ‘Ci’ instead of ‘Ja’.

There were some frustrations too; permission for any kind of invasive investigations is hard to negotiate, but the nature of the geophysical environment makes ground-truthing essential. I’m going to spend some time examining the data and writing coherent outlines and arguments for some ground truthing in the next campaign in July. We had the normal problems with getting used to unfamiliar equipment and software, but things were running smoothly on that front within a few days.

The results themselves are, as expected, somewhat fuzzy and ephemeral on most of the sites, with some great challenges to interpretation. I am very much looking forward to going back to Mainz to attack all of this with our collaborators. We had some fantastic results on our last day, with what looks like 2 structures showing up in the data (instead of the usual patches of enhancement and ‘noise’, or tiny monopoles) on a site where I hope we stand a good chance of being allowed to dig at least a small hole.

The ‘other half’ of the team had some good results as well, with some great soil and pottery samples, and some charcoal so we might be able to get some RC dates, depending on how big the charcoal bits are. I think that all-round we are seeing it as a success, and have a whole new raft of questions for the July campaign. We also got to start building relationships with our colleagues from Mainz, and with a lovely bloke from Berlin called Ron. I owe him several large beers as he did the actual surveying on the final site on the last day, covering 6 grids wearing Wieke’s wellies, getting terrorised by a REALLY big dog, fighting with brambles and slopes and limping out of the whole experience with the biggest blisters I have ever seen and his sense of humour intact.

The usual fieldwork madness applied, in spades. We got told a rather brilliant joke in 2nd hand format by one of the locals. We laughed so hard we couldn’t speak, frequently, mostly at my attempts at learning Dutch and Italian. I now know that chick peas are Ceci in Italian, and kicker erten (frog peas!) in Dutch. A shrew is a spitsmaus (literally a pointed mouse), and lizards are hagedissen. The vocabulary is at least building! I also saw loads of wildlife; multicoloured spiders, teeny crickets, snakes, lizards, all kinds of birds and amazingly, a gryphon vulture, wheeling about in the mountains. I also saw storks, back here in the Netherlands, and today, some very fluffy cygnets and lots of sex crazed frogs.

Matt is here with me for a while now, and we’ll be flitting about a bit, including going to Berlin (and will hopefully meet up with Ron there) next week. My wonderful little brother is coming back to the Netherlands for a short break from Georgia the same day we come back from Berlin, and there is the small matter of my 30th Birthday to contend with too, so blog entries might be a bit few and far between for a couple of weeks. I’ll try to get on top of the 365 pictures though; it’s something I am determined to do as well as I can. I might cheat and use some of Matt’s pictures though as he has a proper camera for the trip, and takes nice pictures. I’ll be sure to flag which ones are him!

ETA: Pictures now up at

One thought on “Calabria Redux

  1. Pingback: Reflecting « Girl with Trowel

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