07 Jul ADDIE’S NOTES FROM THE FIELD PART 1: 7.2.16

Photo Jun 30, 4 35 06 PMI’m currently on week 3 of 7. We have 2 trenches that have been dug in a villa at one end of Pompeii, off the road that leads to Herculaneum. I think at the moment I’m held together with band aids, dirt, sunscreen, bug spray, and sweat. It’s been a crazy adventure so far…

It’s been a very emotionally interesting experience retrieving the past from the earth. While all of the bones and teeth have been deemed feasting remnants, it’s still quite unnerving coming upon rib and femur at the end of my trowel. In my section of the trench, under the bones and pottery, I’ve come upon a huge deposit of lapilli, which is basically pumice from the Vesuvius eruption. Pulling out bucket after bucket, I am reminded that beneath me lies the life and history of the person or persons who called this area home in 79AD.

Looking at the layers of earth along the edge of our trench within my hole, I’m left wondering what it would be like to uncover what the earth is beneath my grandfather’s childhood home back in Palo Alto. The more I dig, the more I find myself filled with curiosity and hope that I will be able to do the same careful and respectful unearthing in his old backyard. While the story of the sword that he buried before the internment camps of WWII lives on through the oral history of my family, I wonder how many more of my family heirlooms are lost in the earth, waiting to be uncovered. I know my grandmother’s family burned a lot of her tangible Japanese heritage, but I also know that burying Japanese family heirlooms was not a practice limited to my grandfather. It was actually what most of the west coast Japanese community did upon being rounded up to be taken to the camps. These thoughts have placed so much more weight on this excavation: it’s not just earth that’s being uncovered, it’s the lives of these people that were buried in an instant and captured in their daily routine. Part of my grandfather’s life was buried and captured by the earth, never to be uncovered. It’s a part of him that I never got to know, but would love to see a window into that time of his life. I hope that when I return to the states I can return to his old house and explore what the earth has hidden…

We are finally getting into the ground past the modern material in the trench. It’s a long process setting up, measuring it out, and clearing the area before we even break ground and see what the ground has hidden…

—Adrienne Walters, Pompeii, 7.2.16

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