Excavators at Vicus ad Martis will be required to wear steel-toe work boots, in compliance with Italian law. I think steel-toes are a good idea, in part because the thought of taking a student to the hospital with a smashed toe is not a pleasant one. However, this has gotten me thinking about the varieties of footwear worn by diggers in different parts of the Mediterranean. Steel-toe boots are by no means standard in other regions. For example, when I was working at Megiddo in Israel, we were required to wear boots, but they did not have to be steel-toed. As it was explained to me, the boots were a good idea in case scorpions attacked your ankles. I don’t recall any scorpion attacks in the trenches, but perhaps that is because my boots deterred them. In Greece, hiking boots or sneakers are more common (in my experience). And, I have even witnessed archaeologists in Greece working in (gasp) sandals. (Toe injuries be damned! My dogs have to breath!). In fairness to sandal-wearing archaeologists, I am a big fan of wearing sandals in some parts of the Med., provided that you are not walking through a field covered in goat-head burrs, or lifting large rocks. However, this season I am gearing up with steel-toe boots. I purchased a new pair recently and have been wearing them on campus to break them in. I decided upon the Tiberland “Pit-Boss” [picture above] which is not only steel-toed but (so the box states) can protect the wearer from electrical hazards as well. In addition, and from the perspective of fashion, this style of boot simultaneously evokes Norm from “This Old House” and nineties hip-hop, a la “This is How We Do It.” What other work boot can do that?
Preparations for the third season of excavation at Vicus ad Martis Tudertium are underway. The site lies on the western branch of the ancient Via Flaminia, and it appears on a number of ancient and modern itineraries. The past two seasons of excavation have identified some of the parameters of the site, identified a major road going through the site, and brought to light the remains of some of the buildings of the Vicus. Last season a human burial — a cappuccina — was also discovered. Prof. John Muccigrosso of Drew University, Prof. Sarah Harvey of Kent State, and their Italian colleagues have directed the excavations in past seasons. This season I, along with two undergraduate students from the University of Oklahoma, will also be assisting in the excavation.
The dig, which is run as a field school, promises to be great experience for the OU students, as well as their professor (i.e. me). This season the excavation will attempt to determine the ultimate borders of the site, the chronological limits of the site, and determine the relationship of some of the major buildings of the site and the Via Flaminia.