The Via Consolare Project in Pompeii
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Daily life on the Project
The Via Consolare Project is an ongoing project of field research in the ancient city of Pompeii, Italy. Pompeii is a World Heritage Site that is located on the Bay of Naples and is open to the public 364 days per year. We gain daily entrance for our research and permission to conduct archaeological inquiry through the generosity of the Superintendency of the site (the Soprintendenza archeologica di Pompei). The Project is active in the field during the summer months.
The Project carries out on-site research approximately five days per week. We depart camp at 7:30 am for breakfast and are on site for work by 8:00 am. All Project members carry out the various tasks for the day including excavation, survey, recording, and cleaning.
The team takes a lunch break on site at midday. During the early afternoon, the entire team comes together for artefact and ecofact processing, pottery cleaning, cataloguing the artefacts, and ecofactual recovery, including conducting soil sample floatation and the sorting of residue fractions, etc. At 6:00 pm, the group reconvenes to close up and discuss the day's progress, departing site at roughly 6:15 pm (though occasionally later). The site closes officially at sunset.
The Project also takes time for trips to archaeological sites elsewhere around the Bay of Naples such as Oplontis (Torre Annunziata), Stabiae, Cumae, and Capri, and/or exploration of other parts of ancient Pompeii itself. Largely informal and unstructured, these trips are intended both to enrich our experiences and provide a basis of comparison for our research. Occasionally we have been known to escape to the beach or nearby towns to explore and relax. It should be noted however that there is no time for vacationing during the research season.
The Via Consolare Project is housed at Camping Zeus, a campsite steps away from the front gate of the ancient city of Pompeii and conveniently situated next to the Circumvesuviana train station. All participants bring and live in tents for the duration of the summer. Due to constraints of space and luggage restrictions, Project members use small, 2 to 3 person-sized tents.
Breakfast, taken at a nearby cafe, usually consists of a pastry and coffee. Lunch, eaten on site, consists of a sandwich containing a mixture of meats, greens, cheese, and tomato, either prepared by the team at camp before breakfast, or ordered from a local cafe for pickup later. Dinner is most often prepared on the campsite and comprises a buffet-style selection of salad, meats, cheese, olives, and bread. For variety, we occasionally grill, order out for pizza, bake potatoes, or go into town for dinner at a local restaurant. This lack of fixed arrangements allows us the greatest flexibility in our schedules and the ability to accomodate the unexpected.
All members of the Project are expected to help with procuring, preparing and cleaning up after meals on a rotating schedule (yes, we all do the dishes, even the Director!). We shop at the local grocery store daily, getting the foods that we will need for that day's dinner and the next day's lunch.
It should be noted that all our meals are in keeping with local southern Italian fare, centring upon cured meats (prosciutto, salami, etc.), cheeses (especially mozzarella di buffala!), local vegetables (peppers, eggplant/aubergine, mushrooms, rucola/rocket, squash), pastas, pizzas, fruit (olives, bananas, peaches, melon, tomatoes), and wine. Vegetarianism, while certainly sustainable with the local offerings (especially with foods purchased from the supermarket) can be a difficult concept for local chefs. A certain degree of flexibility (and a deal of patience) is necessary, but be prepared for more difficulty than you might encounter at home. More restrictive eating requirements, such as veganism, lactose intolerance, and gluten intolerance, can be accommodated, but with considerable difficulty, since the number of food options that qualify are quite limited. If you have very specific food requirements and/or allergies, it is strongly recommended that you consider whether working with a Project in southern Italy will be the best choice for you.
Many of our evenings are spent sitting around camp, eating, having a beer, and laughing together. Project participants use whatever free time there might be to do laundry, explore the site, visit other nearby cities, or relax. However, there is often little unscheduled time, and this time is normally spent in the company of the rest of the team. In all matters, the needs of the Project and the research always come first.
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