Professor Walters Goes On-site with JCU's Archaeological Field School

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Professor Erik T. WaltersNo Small Find

Professor Erik T. Walters Goes On-site with JCU’s Archaeological Field School for a Unique Experience

I didn’t have to reapply the 50+ sun-block in the afternoon. By that point my limbs were covered in clay. The clay did not block cascades of sweat from stinging my eyes. It did make sifting more strenuous. Not as much as hauling the wheelbarrow loads of meticulously inspected earth to the dumpsite. Nor as much as shoveling, wielding a pickaxe, or scraping away strata of clay and stone with a trowel. All of this for eight hours a day, minus a one-hour lunch break.

I’ve never had blue blisters. Then again, I’ve never held Roman bronze coins turned blue with centuries of oxidation. Nor have I ever held Roman glass that after 1,900 years still looks – and cuts – like it was produced yesterday. Lead ingots, iron window frames rusted red, a 20 cm long hairpin hand-worked from bone, amphorae and oil lamps … the list goes on.

No, I’ve never held such objects. They’re always in museum display cases. I’ve seen them, studied them, and discussed them in my teaching, yes. But this time… I discovered them after they had been lost for almost two millennia.

While such discoveries are called “small finds”, this is no small thing.

This was my August experience of 2013. This is John Cabot University’s archaeological field school led by the Alberese Archeological Project. Located less than two hours north of campus, it is a singular opportunity for our students.

One uncovers and discovers much more at Alberese Archaeological Field School than at most projects. For students interested in pursuing a degree and career in archeology, art history, classics, cultural heritage management, and museum curatorship this is a must.

Many former students have become supervisors elsewhere following their training with the Project. Few field schools can boast of such on-site formation.

The opportunity to work and learn side by side with the Alberese Archeological Project’s directors and supervisors in small numbers provides students with more than a certified fieldwork experience. The close interaction with experienced archeologists who share the work with you, enthusiastically welcome you to make finds, and continually teach you as you dig, map, clean, and catalogue objects make the Alberese Archaeological Field School a unique opportunity.

The excavations are located in the heart of Tuscany. The academic results of the Project locate it at the center of modern Roman archaeology. Current excavations are focused on the exceptionally rich river port site linked to the Etruscan-Roman city of Rusellae. And here the Project is shaping a new understanding of Roman international exchange networks.

That is no small thing. This is no small find, indeed.

Learn more about the Alberese Archaeological Field School.

E.T. Walters, Dr. Phil.
Assistant Prof. of Classics and Religious Studies