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Amyklaion Excavation

By Frank S. Ruperto, VI Form

Amyklaion Excavation

Editor’s Note: This project was made possible with the support of the Class of 1968 V Form Fellowship. At their 25th reunion, the Class of 1968 created a fund to provide grants to V Form students for independent study during the school year or, more commonly, during the summer between V and VI Forms. Their intent in establishing this fund was to reward independent thinking, ingenuity, and planning and to encourage the student in exploring non-traditional fields of inquiry or using non-traditional methods of investigation.

My experience at the Amyklaion Excavation program in Sparta, Greece, this past summer enabled me to bring the Classics to life. The Hellenic Education and Research Center offered the program, which consisted of an excavation, archaeological method and practice, on-site documentation and cataloging of artifacts, and Greek epigraphy. 

Amkylaion is located in the southeastern Peloponnese region of Ancient Greece. The site was a ritualistic temple to Apollo and Hyacinthus. Our group sectioned it off into steps for the purposes of excavating and recording our findings in an organized manner. Some of the participants would work on a five-meter wall, using a pickaxe to loosen up the dirt. They would rummage through the loose dirt, shoveling the dirt off the wall. The person sifting through the dirt would separate out any artifacts. Others in our group would clean the newly discovered pieces, using only water and a toothbrush, before separating each piece into different sections by time period, which was determined based on both color and design. These artifacts would eventually go to the laboratory to be marked and recorded. By studying artifacts that were part of daily ancient Greek life, I strengthened my knowledge of Greek culture and my understanding of the ancient world.

Figure 1: Sorting Artifacts Based Off Time Period


Archaeological Excavation with Dorchester-On-Thames Field School

By Aidan White, VI Form

Archaeological Excavation with Dorchester-On-Thames Field School

I spent the first two weeks of last summer rummaging through a 2000-year-old garbage
heap, and it was great! Let me explain:

I plan to pursue archaeology in college and potentially as a career. Archaeology programs in the United States are rare and focus mainly on research topics within North and South America. For a broader archaeological education, I plan to head across the pond to the United Kingdom or Ireland, and in order to gain an advantage in the application process, as well as out of sheer interest in the field, I applied for the Mathews Fund Grant in order to take part in an excavation. The dig was put on by a company based in Oxfordshire, England, and focused on a tiny village just outside of Oxford called Dorchester-on-Thames. During Roman times, the village was the site of a Roman settlement. This particular excavation had been used for a number of years as a field school for university students, and I was lucky enough to get a spot. I was the only high school student there. I expected to be on the lower end of the age spectrum, but I had not been prepared for the fact that most of my fellow attendees would know each other already. After schlepping my backpack from Birmingham Airport to Oxford, finding a bus to a tiny village, and walking to the cowpaddy turned campsite, I was exhausted. As I set up my tent, the other members of the dig greeted their friends. After an hour of settling in, we were asked what we would prefer for dinner that evening. The choices were a Sunday roast, and the ever stereotypical English delicacy known commonly as fish and chips. I opted for the latter, and fantasized about the impending meal as we were given an exhaustive tour of the village which comprised an abbey, three pubs, and a Co-Op. (more…)

Getting My Hands Dirtier Than Expected

Getting My Hands Dirtier Than Expected

By Jeanna Cook, Classics Faculty

Fig 1 {Figure 1:  Trench 1, 2014 Excavation Season at Binchester (Vinovium), Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK}

“What will your students think when you tell them that you spent the summer in the toilet!” Quivering with hoarse laughter, Tony slapped his knee and grinned from underneath the visor of his white construction worker’s helmet. He posed, one foot planted up against the trench wall, one hand on his hip. In his other hand he gingerly twirled his “specialty tool,” the head of an archaeological pick superimposed on the longer handle of a garden tool. He and a fellow volunteer archaeologist at Binchester had designed this tool in the off-season, the perfect instrument for this dirty job.


Getting My Hands Dirty Again

By Jeanna Cook, Classics Faculty

This summer, I will fulfill a promise that I made to myself eight years ago.  In the summer of 2006, I spent aBronze Man season excavating at the site of a first-century Roman farmhouse outside of Lucca, Italy. I loved every moment of that summer, and upon the conclusion of the excavation, I promised myself that once I completed my undergraduate studies, found a job, saved some money, and earned my graduate degree, I would go back to digging. This summer, I am returning to the field, the archaeological field, that is. (more…)