On this part of the website the fieldwork by the GIA is briefly discussed and illustrated. The GIA has been excavating at Crustumerium since 2006 and has started archaeological surveys in 2011.
From the summer of 2006 onwards, the Groningen Institute of Archaeology has been intensively involved in the investigations of the Monte Del Bufalo funerary area, working side by side with the SSBAR. Over the course of five consecutive summers, we have been able to excavate a little over 40 tombs. The investigations were carried out by groups of students of our own Institute and from other (foreign) universities and were supervised by Peter Attema, Albert Nijboer and Sarah Willemsen. The tombs investigated by the GIA are very varied in terms of architecture, date and funerary wealth. The first two campaigns were carried out in the southern part of Monte Del Bufalo, where the Soprintendenza had already investigated a large number of tombs. In this area, we have excavated a number of fairly wealthy fossa tombs dating to the first half of the seventh century, and two chamber tombs dating to the beginning of the sixth century BC. From 2008 onwards, attention shifted to the northern part of Monte Del Bufalo, located next to the defence works on the south-eastern side of the settlement, where the GIA has unearthed 26 tombs. Some of the tombs in this area had suffered severely from erosion as a result of ploughing, others have been fairly well preserved. Most tombs were grouped together in small clusters, sometimes cutting or overlapping each other. Fossa graves and chamber tombs occur side by side and the orientations of the tombs vary. All in all, the excavations have provided us with a fairly good understanding of the funerary customs practiced at Crustumerium and of the way they changed over time.
The location of ancient Crustumerium was established with certainty only in the 1970’s, through fieldwork of L. Quilici and S. Quilici-Gigli (published in 1980). Their topographical studies used the non-invasive method of ‘field walking’ to map directly visible archaeology; i.e. monuments, landscape modifications and surface scatters of ceramics. This way they were able to cover huge areas in a short time and with limited resources to create invaluable archaeological maps. Their work strongly illustrates the enormous value and benefits of archaeological survey investigations. An even more detailed and systematic study of northern Rome and Crustumerium was performed within the ‘Suburbium’ project of the University of Roma “La Sapienza” some 20 years later, in the 1990’s. The renewed analysis of the ‘urban’ survey of Crustumerium was published by Angelo Amoroso in 2002. The Crustumerium survey of the GIA intends to complement these existing data and incorporate them into a Geographical Information System. We can now benefit from another 15 years of methodological and technological progress to improve our knowledge and understanding of the ancient landscape of Crustumerium and tap into a new range of interpretative possibilities. One of the main objectives is to combine the information from detailed material studies with the methodological abilities of a GIS. Parts of the settlement, its southern and north-eastern territory have been chosen as research areas for this new approach.
During the excavation campaigns a field laboratory for conservation is set up on the site. The finds from the necropolis are being conserved and restored there. To continue this important work after the excavation the University of Groningen obtained a permission to transport finds to our Laboratory for Conservation and Material studies (LCM) in Groningen yearly. The artefacts from many tombs have been restored and studied here before they were returned to Italy. Restoration procedures, ethics and use of consolidants/adhesives in the LCM are explained on its website, but are best characterized as “restrained”, meaning that only those techniques and materials are used that form no risk for the artefact nor for the conservator. The consolidants and adhesives used are of high quality, being reversible and stable. We often restore artefacts and assemblages to museum level so that they can be exhibited. This is best illustrated by the filling of gaps in ceramics. These gap fills are painted in order to make them almost unnoticeable. The figures show a kantharos before reconstruction as well as before and after repainting. As a rule, metal objects such as copper alloy fibulae, iron daggers or spear heads, are being lifted en-bloc in the field. Once in Groningen, the sealed blocks are being examined by means of X-ray to assess the condition and position within the block. Afterwards, the objects are being excavated in the laboratory by means of investigative cleaning. An interesting illustration of this method is the headdress/diadema, found on the skull of a female. The figures show the x-ray image (right) and several stages of cleaning (above).