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The aims of excavation in Vescovado di Murlo this summer were wholly met. Our previous hypothesis that the linear stone feature and ovoid stone feature, revealed in VT7 and VT8 respectively in 2015, was part of a loggia/courtyard type space was, however, radically altered. It strongly appears that the \x91floor' uncovered in VT7 was not indeed an ancient surface; instead the ancient surface was much lower, perhaps as much as 50cms lower. Instead this season we revealed in VT11 and VT13 , the western extent of the linear stone feature which extended a total of c. 7.70m running roughly East-West from the South-Eastern section wall of VT11 for 5m, and then runs west for another c. 2.7m into VT13. It then turns at a nearly right angle to the north in VT13 , and runs roughly north-south extending 2m and terminates into a white-yellow chalky soil, that is highly suggestive of a virgin soil type known in the locality.

In all areas excavated in Vescovado this season (VT11, VT12 , VT13 , VT14 ) we revealed an ancient cut into the natural topography of the slope of the hill in the locale of Colombaio. It appears that a ditch was cut some 5m wide at its maximum width and slopes downwards in a truncated shape to a maximum width of 3.2m. It was in this ditch that the linear stone feature was revealed. Architecturally it varies with five to seven different courses of stones, averaging a surviving height of 1.25m. The linear stone feature was constructed 1.7m from the lowest part of the south cut into the ditch. The width of the linear stone feature along its uppermost surviving courses varies from .6m to .7m, and its northern face is roughly .6m from the lowest part of the north cut into ditch.

In VT13 , the linear stone feature turns at a near right angle to the north for 2m. The ditch continues for nearly another 2m past the western extent of the linear stone feature. As the linear stone feature turns the natural surface appears to slope upwards and the coursing of the feature decreases in number. The width of the linear stone feature is, however, somewhat wider, being over 1m in parts.

Our tentative conclusion is that this linear stone feature and perpendicular turn is the remains of a wall. Its function is not certain, but we have a number of possible interpretations. The wall may have served as a boundary wall for the community living in Vescovado, perhaps a habitation area immediately upwards to the north-west, while the cut into the ditch south of this wall may have acted as a path around this boundary. The wall is robust and in all likelihood the wall was probably higher in antiquity as the uppermost course is comprised of small and often loose stones that were presumably capped by at least one course of larger and solidifying stones. The wall may, therefore, have served as a defensive feature of some form, or simply as a manifestation of the limits of the urban community.

The materials recovered in all of the Vescovado trenches are equally intriguing, but do not obviously associate themselves with the function of the areas excavated in 2015 and 2016. The entire ditch on either side of the wall was at some point filled with an abundance of roofing tile, large quantities of pottery, a good amount of bone, and other materials that were less frequently recovered during the course of excavation. For instance in VT12 a large fragment of the top of a human skull was found lying above and below a compaction of roofing tile and pottery. Owing to the nature in which the pottery was largely well preserved with many good examples of nearly intact vessels coupled with the large amount of roofing tile, it seems likely that either one or many structures were either dismantled or destroyed in the immediate vicinity and were deposited into the ditch and its associated surfaces to cover the wall and render it unusable. The pottery, especially, those of Greek origin and Italian black gloss wares suggest a terminus post quem of the last quarter of the 4 th century BC for this event.

In VT11 the wall and northern side of the trench (particularly the section into Locus 7 ) are especially significant for explaining this ancient activity. The formation of the ditch occurred with the cut that is Locus 4 and a similar cut in VT12 . Locus 6 , the wall appears to have been the first deposit within this cut that is visible to us, and all other loci (except Locus 1 , the construction fill of the tennis courts) are subsequent deposits related to a fill that was placed over the wall, probably in the late 4 th or early 3rd century BC.

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Suggested Citation

Eóin M. O'Donoghue. "VT 11 (2016-08-09):336-337; Conclusion from Italy/Vescovado di Murlo/Upper Vescovado/Vescovado 11/2016, ID:718". (2017) In Murlo. Anthony Tuck (Ed.) . Released: 2017-10-04. Open Context. <>

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