Digging in the Spanish Countryside – Kamillia Scott

September 21, 2015

Every year, the Penn Museum provides support to Penn undergraduates and graduate students as they deepen their understanding of the human experience outside the Museum’s walls. Follow these blog posts from our intrepid young scholars as they report on the sights and sites that they encounter throughout their travels in the field.

Never have I been more drenched in sweat, than under the Spanish sun in Padilla de Duerro; by noon on most days the temperature would be breaking 100 degrees. As archaeologists (in-training) we were faithful to our cause, rising at the break of dawn to begin our quest for a better understanding of the Vaccean culture. Almost a two hour drive from Madrid, Padilla de Duerro was a small farming community surrounded by miles of vineyards. The countryside was breathtaking, and the sunflower fields seemed endless.

Dig site at the necropolis
Dig site at the necropolis. Photo Credit: Kamillia Scott

Working at the Iron Age Necropolis at Pintia (dating approximately to the 5th to 2nd centuries BCE) was an all-inclusive snapshot of archaeology that I would recommend to any student with little or no previous archaeological field experience. On working days, we would dig in the early morning and evenings when the heat was the mildest. Our afternoons where comprised of seminars about the Vaccean culture, osteology, archaeological drawing, and lab work (cleaning/labels pots, taking measurements, etc.).

Osteology seminar
Osteology seminar. Photo Credit: Marysara Naczi

It was a unique opportunity to see the process of archaeology from taking objects out of the ground, to their final museum display. Some of the items we uncovered from the tombs included marbles, a ton of pottery, metallic weaponry components, and spindle wheels.

Pottery in situ
Pottery in situ. Photo Credit: Kamillia Scott
Sifting at the dig site
Sifting at the dig site. Photo Credit: Marysara Naczi

My favorite parts of the program were the numerous excursions we took to various places around the country, and not just because the van had air-conditioning! We visited the medieval town and castle of Peñafiel. Although the castle is now a wine museum, I enjoyed visiting this city often since it was just a short bike ride from the site and home to the nearest supermarket. The Roman Villa La Olmeda in Palencia was unbelievable. As a Classical Studies major it was surreal to see all of the features of Roman living my professors had lectured about. Since the University of Valladolid runs this program, we also visited this city and university’s anatomy museum. Other excursions included going to the city of Segovia that featured an amazing Roman aqueduct, seeing Paleolithic cave art near Santillana del Mar, and canoeing down the Duero River.

I will forever remember my directors, fellow students, and the kind, welcoming residents of Padilla de Duerro. It was rough for everyone excavating during the hottest month recorded on Earth. Still, at the end of the day we were all able to enjoy a beer at the bar in town and have a good time getting to know one another.