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I attended the KALAT 96 archaeological survey and field school, held in Paceco, Western Sicily, during August and September of 1996. I stayed for two two-week sessions and remained for an additional two weeks to help break camp and wrap up the field school.

Due to the different terrain surveyed the two sessions were quite different. In the first two week period we were surveying open Sicilian countryside, looking for old items that modern deep ploughing techniques had inadvertently brought to the surface. This task was arduous because of the hot weather, and often frustrating on the days when there were few or no findings, although surveying amongst vineyards and fig trees did have its pleasant side! However, on other days we found a spread of evidence of past occupation, ranging from pre-historic stone tools to shards of "grandmother's pottery".

The majority of items of interest that were found were pieces of Greek and Roman pottery: shards of black varnished vessels and handles of amphorae being relatively common. During this session two Roman "sites" were discovered. A site is an area where a dense concentration of material is found, indicating the probable presence of an ancient settlement below, making the area interesting for future excavation.

The second two week session was spent surveying the precipitous slopes of the mountain-top town of Erice. Cooler weather and tree cover made the job easier, although the steepness of the ground -- cliffs in places -- posed its own challenge.

As Erice has been continually occupied for a long time we collected a lot of interesting pieces of pottery. I found some beautiful Elymian pieces that ended up appearing on local television. Here we were also looking for, and found, evidence of ancient terrace walls, buildings, fortifications, paths, quarries, and man-made caves.

Most interesting was the discovery of the remains of a small medieval church. We spent some time clearing the undergrowth from the church, and measuring it so we could draw a plan of the structure. I found a large cistern next to the church which, when we first looked down into it had, just like in Indiana Jones stories, a snake at the bottom! Altogether, a satisfying experience.


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