Pietraperzia: Day 6

Due to the bad weather condition, we canceled the outdoor activities (an Archeological Camp for digging and excavating relics). Instead, we went to a painting restoration site.
It was a big room where the restorers can work on the process of preserving and restoring the artifacts. There were several canvases in here. The restorers explained how would they restore the painting step by step. First of all, they glued the original canvas that started to falls apart onto a new canvas in order to give more support to the old one. Then, they used a frame-like pine tree wood that releases sap, which is capable to resist the attack from insects to stabilize the two canvases. After all of these process, the restorer showed us by using three different types of chemicals that has different PH value to restore some of the imperfections of the paintings. One of the most impressive point that the restorer mentioned was that they will not perfectly restore the artifacts as same as what was it like in the ancient time, and all of the restorations are reversible. They want to respect the historical evidences that the canvases maintain.

After visiting the restoration site, we were invited to the Town Hall by the mayor and the vice mayor of Pietraperzia. On the second flood of the Town Hall is a room where they classify and observe the detail and structure of the ancient artifacts such as Flintstones and potteries. According to the archaeologist, 30 percent of their time was spent on the archaeology site; 30 percent are spent in libraries; 30 percent were spent in that room. Lastly 10 percent of their time was spent on paper works. Tomorrow, we are going to experience how the archeologists work normally by going to a site to excavate antiques.

Bill Wang & Sam Qin

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Ross students learn the painstaking details of art restoration on a 17th century Madonna and Child.

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Dr. Giannitrapani explains how to orient pottery fragments.

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4300 year old pottery!

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Students learn how to re-frame a 17th century painting.

Our visit to Pietraperzia has been in association with Arkeos, a local archaeological service camp that arranges opportunities for students of archeology and others interested in archeology to participate in excavating local sites and help catalog discovered artifacts. Dr. Enrico Giannitrapani, the organization’s leader, identified two sites near Pietraperzia, Tornambe and Rocche. Tornambe, he explained, is characterized by the presence of a late Copper Age settlement (~2400 BC), while Rocche, where our students will be excavating, is a Greek settlement that dates from the 5th century BC. After showing us several artifacts from both sites, Dr. Giannitrapani said that although there remains a wealth of undiscovered items and artifacts at both sites, lack of funding prohibits routine excavations. He hopes that through Arkeos he can spark further interest in archeology and cultural sustainability as well as raise money for further excavation of Tornambe, Rocche, and other sites in Sicily. Our group of 19 Ross students, he explained, was something of an experiment, as in the past Arkeos has only hosted a handful of university archeology students but not a large group of high school students. Both Dr. Giannitrapani and the Ross Southern Italy Field Academy hope that our visit will inspire other secondary and postsecondary students to visit Pietraperzia and get their hands dirty with Arkeos!
-Kyle Helke