The fifth and final week at Gabii was headlined by a trip to the American Academy of Rome. The Academy houses several dozen special finds cassetta from Gabii and other excavations for the sake of saving space on site and the artifacts themselves. Along with the reward of sleeping in past 6am and not wearing steel-toed boots, the Gabii Finds School made the short pilgrimage to see even more delicate artifacts from site.
On this day, each Finds School student was expected to catalog any objects relevant to their final project in addition to researching their finds. Unluckily, I was not able to extensively research my artifacts while at the Academy or on site from the sheer amount of bone hairpins and needles I found. Most of my time was spent recording the dimensions of the bone objects and acquiring other raw data I would not be able to obtain in the States.
|Finds School students studying small finds from Gabii: ceramic votives and fibulae, respectively.|
This ongoing research amongst other students helped me realize a few things including that archaeological analyses rarely follow scientific method. Although an archaeologist might start researching an object or series of objects with a specific query, whether or not s/he can answer it is highly dependent on the information about the object(s) recorded in prior time. As we delved deeper into researching our objects, we revealed more research questions.
Students researching more commonly found artifacts, myself included, found ourselves repeatedly asking "why has no one written about this before?". The amount of experts or academics solely writing on bone hairpins or fibulae seemed miniscule in comparison to those publishing articles on the handful of Minoan death masks in existence, for example. Ultimately, we discovered that the most commonplace objects often received less attention; the phenomenon is similar to losing house keys in plain sight.
|Erica Canavan presenting her research on bone hairpins and needles from Gabii's Area F.|
In researching bone hairpins and needles in Roman contexts, I realized that I could contribute to a knowledge base for a small finds category. This realization is even more poignant when coupled with the fact that I will begin graduate school in the fall. The Finds School has helped further propel me towards a sense of purpose and thirst for knowledge within Roman archaeology.
I have had a fulfilling, rewarding experience in my second excavation season with the Gabii Project, so the end of this fifth week is naturally bittersweet. While I am content to fly back to Michigan and refresh my Ancient Attic Greek in a hammock in Ann Arbor, I will miss having the routine of the site and the colleagues and friends I have made along the way.