arrivederci vicus

This past Friday wraps up my amazing week working in the vicus, and what a week it was!  Four of us including Emily, Alex, Monika and myself, under the supervision of Andrew Birley- we went far from the comforts of the North field to the bright and new vicus- well, under it.

The first day involved removing all of the little pebble stones and thick turf that has been built up over the years to accommodate the many people interested in exploring the grounds at Vindolanda.

Finally getting beneath that layer… and then a bit deeper… and a little deeper. Until, at last we hit the “good stuff” meaning that there are a lot of artefacts and all sorts of goodies to be found. This usually means lots and lots of pottery, bones, leather goods and other materials of that sort. As we were excavating, we pulled out large number of artefacts, which indicates that there were people living there or it was a place that had heavy foot traffic.

This is me holding a leather fragment. But this is a good picture to show how MUDDY this place is… but totally worth it.
This is me holding a leather fragment. But this is a good picture to show how MUDDY this place is… but totally worth it.

During this time, I found a piece of a wooden comb, and seeing that this was my first big find; naturally I was over the moon about the whole thing. The comb was only a fragmented piece, but you could still see all of the fine teeth carved into the wood on each side. Can you guess the purpose of why the comb would have two different thicknesses of its teeth? Please leave your guesses in the comment section below!

The comb fragment
The comb fragment. Can you see the teeth? The mud is hindering the image a bit.

Moving on to the leather goods, I also found a piece of a leather tent, a backing from a leather shoe and lastly, as the piece of résistance, a ladies shoe! To be honest, when pulling this thing out of the ground, it really did not look like much, or a shoe for that matter. But, as I started to gently uncover the dirt and debris from the object it became much clearer.

Ladies Leather Shoe.
Lady’s leather shoe.

I think that the biggest thing I will take away from this experience is being able to visualize the various objects and architectural structures from the archaeological record, actually what it would have looked like in its prime. It really is a skill that one has to develop over time, but with practice I’m sure I’ll get there.


2 thoughts on “arrivederci vicus

  1. Great finds! Is the reason ancient combs have different thicknesses of teeth the same reason modern ones do? I don’t know what that reason is either, though.

  2. Hi V, this is mom, re: the comb my guess the wider teeth could be for thicker hair and to help comb through the tangles. Once the tangles are gone then one can use the thinner part the comb to make it smoother.

    Hey V this is Dad…Mom is on the right track…since ancient Roman soldiers were very hairy the thin side was used for combing out their chest hair and the thicker side was for combing out their back hair. (Your welcome for that mental image)
    Hi me (mom) we accidentally put this comment on someone else’s blog sorry!! what a bunch of newbies… Any way looking forwarding in hearing all the stories you have to tell in person.

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