Despite the brewing thunderstorm in which I write this update, the KNIR Molise field school ‘Exploring Mountain Society in Ancient Samnium’ comes towards the end of another successful year. Following a COVID-induced break, we finally returned to Jelsi in 2021 with a new batch of students, fresh faced and ready to tramp the fields in search of elusive pottery. Over the last two and a half weeks, two increasingly jaded yet enthusiastic field teams and one lab/command team have ranged over the hills, uncovering a large number of fantastic sites, as well as sampling the excellent local cuisine. These sites including a number of very nice Samnite and Roman settlements in close proximity to each other to the south of our base camp in the former convent of S. Maria delle Grazie, near Jelsi. A broad range of ceramics, glass and metal finds were recovered, with the Tappino Valley Survey project recording the 100th site since its inception in 2013. This productivity, helped by excellent field conditions and (mostly) benign weather, has continued with a very nice find (just this morning) of a Chalcolithic (Copper Age) cremation burial near the large Samnite hillfort of the Montagna di Gildone by some very excited members of our field school. Hopefully the good luck will continue as we wind down this campaign and take stock of the massive piles of pottery that have been collected, washed and processed by our excellent team of students.
Written by Dr. Jamie Dodd (KNIR scholar Sep.-Dec. ’21 and team leader on the KNIR field school: Exploring Mountain Society in Ancient Samnium)