Wildon Dig   Leave a comment

Wildon, Austria – While in Africa, my mother reminded me that my cousin Patrick Fazioli was conducting a research project in Austria.  He is currently working on his archeology thesis project and told me that not only could I visit, but he would put me to work.  I spent a night in a sleeper car on a train from Utrecht to Vienna and then headed south to the town of Wildon near Graz where I was met by Patrick and his friend Gerhard.  Patrick received an NSF grant to conduct his research in Wildon and is currently joined by several assistants (Greg, Dustin and Darren).  After stopping by the house to drop off my bags, we set out for work taking soil samples in the Austrian countryside.  Patrick carried his maps and a GPS device and directed the rest of us to take core samples in a grid covering a local farm.  The farmer, along with just about everyone else we met, brought us shot glasses of home brewed schnapps.  Patrick tells me that a significant amount of his time is spent gaining permission to explore private lands over glasses of local liquor.  The evening was spent testing the soil samples for phosphate levels which can indicate that the area was populated in the past.


Excavation – Early the next morning, we set out to a neighboring property that had particularly high phosphate levels for an exploratory excavation.  Patrick selected a small region behind the main house adjacent to the rows of pear trees planted by the farmer and his wife.  No sooner had the sod been removed that the skies opened up as a flash storm swept into the valley.  Patrick took his team over the ridge to retrieve a tent to cover their dig site.


The crew painstakingly scraped thin layers of earth away from the surface with trowels and shoveled the pieces into a large sifting screen they had setup on a large tarp.  Tiny fragments of ceramic pottery, bone and metal were collected by hand and placed in plastic bags for further analysis.  Every ten centimeters or so, new measurements were taken and the soil was analyzed.  The farmer watched over the excavation with great interest and left only long enough to bring out a tray of home made peach schnapps.  The digging took the better part of the day until a layer of limestone was reached.  Nothing of great significance showed up at this particular site.  The hole was refilled, the sod replaced, and the team moved on to consider where next to dig.  I had a nice couple of days reconnecting with Patrick and gaining a better understanding of his work in Austria.  Next stop… INDIANA!!


Posted June 9, 2009 by chrislux in Travel

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