Trial excavation

The results of the surface surveys show you where ancient human occupation may lie hidden, but only excavation will show you what is actually there.

Madeleine Hummler dug several trial trenches as part of her investigation of the area around the church of Saint Peter at Casale San Pietro. She found that many of the buildings had been levelled to their foundation by deep ploughing, but that two children’s tombs had survived elsewhere.

A section through soil layers, showing where the dark ploughsoil levelled the stone wall foundations.

Between the church and the main road to Agrigento, near where it crossed the river, the ground rose as though something lay buried there. First she had to dig deep by hand, but having found the level of a wall, Antonino Meo guided a mechanical excavator to expose the tops of wall a metre down. This is how we discovered the Roman to Norman site known as Casale San Pietro Intervention 5.

Intervention 5 at Casale San Pietro, showing the fully-excavated Roman to Norman remains.