I attempted to get a restful night of sleep last night. Lord knows I was tired enough. However, Murphy’s Law decided to reign supreme and my housemates had a dinner party and were laughing and talking loudly until at least 12:30am. There is absolutely nothing worse than being tired and kept awake.
I finally did get a couple hours rest before having to rise at 7am. After meeting at Dan’s to help schlep camera equipment to the school, we boarded Dr. Soren’s rented car and started on our journey to Populonia. The drive takes ~3 hours and takes you through amazing Italian countryside. We passed many stunning hilltop towns; ancient communities that can trace their town’s origin back to the Etruscans (much like Orvieto). We sped through beautiful fields of Tuscany vineyards until we finally arrived in the seaside site of Populonia.
According to Populonia’s Wikipedia page it only has a population of 17. I can definitely believe it. Populonia is only a small stretch of beautiful coastline and several archaeological sites. There are only a handful of permanent residences.
However, in the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, this place was the industrial center for the production of iron. An enormous ironworks was in place at that time, dumping their molten slag into the pristine bay. The workers of the ironworks were all slaves and many died due to arsenic poisoning, a byproduct of the smelting process. Many of the ancient cities residents also died from the arsenic contaminating their food, which was primarily fish.
The dig director and his assistant took us out to lunch inside of the town of Populonia, which is inside of a giant castle. I had a delicious Mediterranean salad and Dr. Soren spoke about connecting the University of Arizona with the dig they are doing. Dan and I then went up the castle tower to shoot some panoramas from up there. It provided some beautiful views and we could even see the dig site in the distance.
We then proceeded to go to a nearby town to film within an archaeological museum which was opened just for us. They had some amazing artifacts. My favorites were a Roman floor mosaic and an almost pure silver Roman vase depicting a wide variety of their gods. I have pictures of both included in this entry.
By now, it was already 5:30pm, so we proceeded back to a resort that Dr. Soren booked for us. It’s amazing to see a 7 building resort with an Olympic size pool in the middle of grape vineyards and olive groves. Italy is a land of duality.
research / travel / musings
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