Pantelleria Project


Student Blogs, Week 3: Encountering Pantescan Culture

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This week my friend and I travelled along some of the local trails that Pantelleria has to offer. The trails were incredible; some were very steep, which were more of a climb, while others bordered some of the many terraces for kilometres on end. We’ve been able to check out some of the local restaurants and have been successful (in my opinion) in preparing Pesto Pantesco for the group, which is an island specialty.
The hospitality on the island is absolutely wonderful, Pantescans have been very kind to us. I suppose it’s that proper Mediterranean xenia that some of the professors mentioned in class.
We plan on spending this coming Saturday in town as well as exploring Cinque Denti (five teeth), which is a cove only a short walk from our dammuso.
-Matthew

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I can’t believe that we are already halfway through our time here on Pantelleria! It feels like it has gone so fast and I will definitely miss being here and doing all of the awesome activities that we do on and off the site. This week we had some elementary school kids visiting the site. They learned about the importance of archaeology and the conservation of the archaeological sites and finds. They learned about the tools that we use and found quite a few interesting surface finds to their delight. Then we had them draw what they thought the site might have looked like over 2000 years ago and all of the drawings were very interesting to see and quite well done too!
-Brittanee

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It was another busy week working on the Pantelleria Project. On Tuesday, we had a school of elementary students come to visit our site and learn about the history of the island, as well as the importance of both archaeology and the preservation of archaeological sites. It was great to see their enthusiasm and their creative drawings on how the site may have looked like in the past. On a different note, my education of Mediterranean culture continues to expand. Not only did I learn that it is possible to eat grape leaves but, due to the amazing talent of our friend Peter, I also learned that they are delicious.
-Heather

Last Saturday I joined in one of the most Italian experiences I’ve had since visiting here, a neighbourhood pizza meal. Two Italian women spent seven hours preparing and cooking pizza in an outside oven while family and friends came over with homemade wine and dessert – it was incredible. Our dig started late on Monday as there was a windstorm; it’s been interesting seeing how intense and sporadic the winds have been on the island. A school group visited the site on Tuesday and I saw how important it was to engage with the local community and hopefully interest younger children in archaeology. We threw a goodbye gathering for him on Thursday night, as he left on Friday morning.
-Michael

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The excavation continues to go well and my understanding of archaeological methods continues to improve. Unfortunately we had to say goodbye to our assistant director, Clive, as he had obligations elsewhere. We were visited by some local students, one group of which arrived unexpectedly. Despite their unexpected arrival it was still a pleasant experience, as some of them seemed to have a genuine interest in our work, and archaeology in general. I have done a fair amount of hiking around the Lago di Venere with Matt and, having just come into the possession of a book of local hiking trails, I intend to continue doing so.
-Alexander

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This week has been an eventful week. Things are getting more interesting as our experience gets better and better. Every day brings new challenges for us to face, along with new information and questions that make us smarter and more educated of the beautiful things that are around us. Sadly one of the “adults” in our group had to leave. We wish him the best as we continue to experience new things and see some interesting sights.
– Cameron K.

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The water is cool to the touch, with each ripple and soft wave it beckons you in further. There is a certain kind of peace that accompanies a night swim. In the sunlight the lake is a vibrant sanctuary from the heat, but at night it comes to life. The water has so many colours to its surface, a variation of blues and sulphurs, but at night, it is pure, perfect even. The stars dance to our laughter as we swim further out. The moon acts as our only source of light, but none of us are afraid of the darkness that surrounds us because we are all too elated by the happiness and confidence that we bring out in each other. I would not change a single thing about this night, it was an experience that is next to none. I can surely say that on this night we have certainly been floating on the surface of the sky.
– Kait

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The Way of the Wind
This is the way of the wind:
It dances lightly over the sea
and barely makes it up the slopes
of the black sentinel mountains,
to slide down the other side and breathe
its coolness upon your face
and gently rock the hammock
while you dream.

But at night it can roar
And break through the boundary
That separates this sharp world of certainties
From the place where older gods still live,
To remind all heedless humans
That in some places they can speak to us
In our deepest dreams they whisper,
“Come back to Cossyra, we are waiting.”
-Sarah

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Being able to swim in a volcano has become one of the best things that I have done on this journey. Swimming in Lago di Venere after work is the perfect way to cool off and relax. Back home the local lake is always cold, except for about two days of the whole year, but on Pantelleria the lake is the perfect temperature (well for me at least). I’ll admit though, as someone who never before swam in the sea, the salt water really shocked me!
-Jennae

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This week I was struck by the beauty of Pantelleria. The clear blue ripples of Lago di Venere cleansed me; it felt as if I were wrapped in a cool and calming blanket. The earlier part of the week I decided to explore our property a little further. The healthy green grass brushed against my feet while I reflected my thoughts. The most stunning aspect about Lago di Venere was hearing the neighing of the horses and being able to wake up in a place that is so full of colour and life. My time on this island is half way over yet I never want it to end. Pantelleria is a paradise island filled with positive spirits. So, I will enjoy the time while it lasts.
– Raquel

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Group travel is not without its caveats. While working with a great team for several weeks is certainly an enjoyable experience, it can make quiet and solitude a rare commodity. Thankfully, Pantelleria is filled with ample opportunities to slip away during down time and get some much-needed quiet, with the added bonus of incredible views. Dotted all over the island are abandoned dammusi and terraces where one can sit and gather his or her thoughts. It may just be a short jaunt up the hillside but it feels like you’re in an entirely different valley. Bring some water and perhaps a book and/or some music while taking in the landscape – it’s the most cost-efficient and easiest way to reset yourself during the hustle and bustle of team projects.
-Brian

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Student Blogs, Week 2: Soaking in the sights and sounds at the Lago

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The Way Home

This is the way home:
The stairs are steep and uneven,
Step carefully, until you reach the path
It winds a bit, until your feet reach the arc of the road
Where the gravel crunches underfoot.
Then you will see Lago di Venere,
Turning to shades of pink, like the sky
Losing the light of day
To the sea behind the mountains.
If you pause for a little while
You will see the moon suspend itself from the heavens
And the stars, as they pierce the infinite, dark sky
Vainly trying to lure the Goddess of the Lake
From her ancient place of peace, saying:
“It is time to return home beautiful one. Come back,
to the sky and favour your brothers and sisters with your presence.
These mortals cannot be worthy of the mirror of Venus,”
Smiling gently, she answers “oh, but they are”, and stays.

– Sarah

 

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Tuesday of this week we were invited to dinner by an American ex-pat and renowned chef by the name of Peter. Both he and his family treated us to a wonderful dinner where I experienced flavours and combinations of various flora that I would not have considered previously. Peter evidently possesses a talent that I cannot begin to comprehend. Needless to say, the meal was delicious. I was able to gain a better sense of the conditions and techniques relied upon to acquire food in this semi-arid climate.

-Brian

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We spent last Saturday night in town and had wonderful appetizers at our landlord’s bar. We started digging on the site Sunday morning, the work is hard but fulfilling while bruises, blisters, and sore muscles are felt by everyone in the group. After starting work, we’ve been taking it a little easier with our excursions as we mostly spend lunch and dinner at the houses on the lake. We’ve been taking it in turns to prepare meals but we’ve had the help from our Maltese Assistant Director, Clive, who has been teaching us some Mediterranean dishes. However on Tuesday night we went to the house of an American chef, named Peter, for dinner. He taught us how to make pizza, and his daughter showed us around his garden and told us about growing plants on Pantelleria.

-Michael

 

They say our school mascot is a badger, but if anyone from administration was here, they would know it would be a cross between wild cats and friendly dogs. House One has fulRoy. Blog Photo 2ly adopted a pretty kitty we named Nigella and House Three is visited quite frequently by the lovers, Bageera and Aurelia, whom we also had the pleasure of naming. The boys aren’t too fond of the
m, apart from Mike, but they can’t argue that they are loyal. Nigella never leaves, and even slee
s at our door; the other two show up for dinner religiously. On the other hand, we also have ‘Dog on a Mission’, a.k.a. ‘Rocky’, who does his rounds to all the houses around the lake, and also has time to stop at site and have a nice long visit with us while we work. This year BUAPP is sponsored by the loyal and adorable wildlife of Pantelleria.

-Kait

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This week we really started to work on our site. The site itself is really starting to take shape, and the direction that it is going seems to be pretty good. When we are not working, we spend our free time doing things like swimming in the beautiful lake that our house is right beside, or we just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Although the work is tiring, the satisfaction that you get seeing things fall into place at the site makes it all worth it. I’m looking forward to what the next couple of weeks will mean for us as we continue working on this site.

– Cameron

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So this past week we went to the house of an American couple called Peter and Amy. Peter is a chef from New York and we had a ‘make your own pizza’ night at his home and he made deep fried zucchini flowers for an appetizer and it was really amazing! For dessert, he made these awesome tarts with strawberries on top and another type of deep fried zucchini flower but this time with chocolate in the middle and a roasted marshmallow on top and it was super delicious! Then their daughter Lily took Heather and me on a tour of their gardens and taught us all about the flowers and the different types of fruits and vegetables that they grow there and what their uses are and were in history. All in all I’m really glad to have met them and was able to taste the amazing food that Peter makes and I’m thankful that they invited us into their home.

-Britannee

Moore. Photo 2The excavation is progressing well and I have learned a fair amount about archaeological methods and techniques. I am constantly surprised by the hospitality of those who live on the island. We were invited to our landlord’s bar for free drinks and food. Peter, a local chef, also hosted a dinner party for the team and on a later day brought lunch to one of our houses after we had finished work. There are a few trails around the Lago di Venere one of which took me up a steep stone path to the top of the volcanic crater providing a view of the entire lake and the ocean. I intend to visit the other trails in the near future.

-Alexander

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I never realized how hot the weather would be here and just when I think I’m getting used to it I realize how wrong I am. We made pizza at a local chef’s home, it was so delicious and after we ate his homemade desserts. It was a night of great food, company and a very sad volley-ball game. The other night I saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen and it just brightened my week.

– Jennae

 

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This week has gone by so fast; it is hard to believe we have already been here more than a week. Everything is starting to get into sort of rhythm however including the local animals. Each morning Rocky, the local dog, comes to check out our site before running off again on some mysterious mission, and the local cats have been conveniently stopping by at lunch and dinner and will most likely be fat by the end of our four weeks. As for ourselves, we were invited to a pizza night with an American family who live on the island and we each got to make our own pizza in a wood fired oven. It was truly an experience to remember.

-Heather
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My second week in Pantelleria can be described in one word: breath-taking. The views of the natural landscapes are spectacular from all angles. Hiking on Pantelleria’s volcanoes was my favourite activity this week. Several examples of steam from rock fissures was absolutely astounding to both watch and feel. We visited several ancient settlements and enjoyed fresh hard boiled eggs cooked in a natural crevice in the mountains. Overall, this week at Pantelleria has been very special especially among a great group of classmates.

-Raquel

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Week one is now finished, and everyone has been working hard to get there work done and the dirt out of their clothes as there is a lot of it. Aside from learning different archaeological techniques we have been introduced to how to prepare and bake proper Italian pizza with our friend on the island, as well has the different agricultural methods people need to follow in order to thrive here. Since the island has been inhabited by many different people since the Bronze Age, there have been numerous changes to the landscape. One aspect includes influences from North Africa and their resourceful methods the protect lemon tress from violent winds by building a circular wall around it while still providing the plant enough water and sunlight to survive.

-Matt

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Student Blogs, Week 1: Getting our feet wet

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Even coming back to the island for a second time, I find that I am still faced with many new and amazing things. For the past few days, I have seen a flock of flamingos out on the lake, which is both beautiful and strange to watch, looking like a group of lightly dyed swans on stilts. We have also gone to some of the archaeological sites on the island; my personal favourite was the Roman “bath complex” and the possible garum production site which demonstrates the degree which the Romans utilized the local landscapes of this island and other provincial sites to continue the traditions from Rome. Seeing the other sites has made me twice as excited for starting on our own dig.
-Heather

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Pantelleria is an island full of surprises, every nook and cranny hiding something unique that s
atters your preconceptions. It’s a harsh volcanic landscape that opens into fertile plains in the South. It’s an island without fresh water that has maintained a population intermittently since at least the Bronze Age, and consistently since Punic settlement sometime after the 9th century BCE. An island where agriculture is preferred to fishing with just two main, natural harbours, yet now bears little livestock. The small population throughout its history has managed to build an enormous and impressive array of terraces and low stone walls just about everywhere one sees. The dammuso we reside in is inconspicuous from any angle of the lake but is large, homey and cool. I await the coming weeks with anticipation, hoping that the excavation will be full of as many surprises as the island.
-Brian

 

It’s been an interesting few days. I travelled around Italy before flying to Pantelleria so I took a later flight then everyone else; we ended up circling the island for an hour before diverting off to Trapani. After ruin
ing the schedule by showing up a day late [not at all, Michael, CAM], we left to see the Bronze Age site, Mursia, and it was really interesting. We see a lot of pictures of remains from this time and they are often only the foundations but this was well-preserved, especially the large wall there. After the information session on Friday it was good to see the remains of the Roman baths at Scauri, although not very large, they gave a good impression on their functionality on the island. Saturday was marked by a tour by a local historian called Peppe. It was a long hike but he was really knowledgeable about many different aspects of the island which kept us going, the dip into Lago di Venere was greatly welcomed afterwards.
-Michael

 

When the wheels of the plane hit the runway on Pantelleria it was really exciting animage001d it seemed surreal. Settling into the houses and sitting on the patio with the perfect lake view is so far the best part of the trip. I cannot wait to start working, and now after the first few days of vacationing and hanging out with the group, we feel like a little family. This is going to be an experience that none of us will ever forget and we are definitely going to make some friends for life on this trip. It took a long time to get here, and we all survived the follies of the airports, and the intense heat on the planes, so it can only get better from here.
-Kait

 

Our first day here on Pantelleria we took some time to get to know the people with whom we would be spending the next month working. On the second day, after our last companion had arrived, we went and visited the ruins of a Bronze Age site, as well as walking through the town. On Friday we went and visited the Roman baths and got some information on the site, and what we would be doing. Saturday we went for a very extended hike with a wonderful and informed tour guide in the morning and afternoon, who educated us. In the evening we went into the town and sampled some of the local cuisine.
-Cameron

 

So we have finally arrived on the island of Pantelleria and it is everything and more than I ever imagined! Everything is absolutely beautiful, the landscape, the sea views, and of course Lago di Venere. It has only been three days since we have all arrived and we have already seen so many wonderful things! Like the Bronze Age site of Mursia and the Sesi that are the tombs of the ancient peoples of that particular site, we have seen Scauri which is a Roman Period site that was right on a natural harbour and had wonderful views of the sea and also had a natural hot spring there so the Romans did not have to build huge bathing complexes like in other areas of the Empire, we also went on an amazing, but tiring, hike up and between a few volcanoes where the views were stunning. Tomorrow we start to get down to business and I am really excited for that and more amazing adventures on such an amazing island.
-Brittanee

 

We arrived on the island of Pantelleria on May 11th and moved into our houses on the shore of the Lago de Venere. The first few days have been spent doing leisurely rather than starting archaeological work immediately and organizing the responsibilities of the team members and a listening to a lecture on the history of the island and the archaeological methods that are to be used during the excavation. The first thing we did was a a group was visit the Bronze Age site of Mursia where we examined the foundations of huts and the Sesi,
a type of tomb used by the inhabitants of the settlement. We also visited the site of a Roman bath near Scauri on the coast of the island. This site was located very near to an industrial structure believed to have been used for the production of garum.
-Alex

 

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What strikes me the most about Pantelleria are the vivid colours. The deep blue of the ocean as the sun is getting low on the horizon and the way that the air and the water seem to sparkle. There are the red poppies that grow wild in the fields and by the side of the road, the hibiscus that overflows with pink flowers and the tiny yellow and violet wildflowers that grow between the cracks in the stones. For an island that has limited water it is amazing how abundant the foliage and the crops are. Grape vines, olive trees, fruit trees and vegetables grow everywhere on the terraces that can be seen cascading down the sides of the mountains. This is truly a beautiful place.
-Sarah

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It’s been almost a week here at Pantelleria and so far it seems so unreal. The island is so unique, it’s nothing like I have ever seen before, and pictures don’t do it justice. After several plane rides it feels great to be able to unpack and settle down but I can’t wait to start working. It’s nice that even though some of us don’t know each other, we still get along really well. I can tell that this is going to be an experience of a lifetime!
-Jennae

 

To culminate this week’s experiences is difficult. My first few days in Italy were unbelievable; it feels as if this is a surreal and out-of-world experience. The airplane flight from Trapani to Pntelleria was very quick; it was fascinating seeing the view image001of the thriving island in
contrast with the dense clouds. Taking adventurous drives through the countryside to ancient sites was awe-inspiring. Overall, the best part of Pantelleria thus far is being able to pursue my dreams of archaeology and bond with a fun group who share my passions.
-Raquel

 

At Pantelleria on Lago di Venere, I live in a house of five students. During the last two days we have visited local dammusi, and Bronze Age and Roman sites. These included Bronze Age huts and Sesi tombs (literally a pile of rocks). It is obvious to see and just as amazing to understand the resourcefulness of how the people of Pantelleria have designed their buildings using the materials available on the island, which is predominantly volcanic rock (about the size of your head). There are no large trees on the island to use for timber and the most abundant plants appear to be shrubs and cacti. Other sites included a small Roman bath by the seaside and where they made garum, which is a common Roman fish sauce.
-Matt