Classical Humanities and Art History
This summer I was given the opportunity to attend a field school at the site of Poggio Del Molino in Tuscany. Many thanks to Toni Landis for making me aware of the dig, and to the CANES department for doing their best to help me out with funding. The experience was enlightening to me as an individual, and pushed me to further pursue Classical Archaeology (despite the worried cries of “but what will you actually do?” from concerned family members). The days flew by in a golden (albeit dusty) haze, and I’m still not quite sure how an entire summer passed by right under my nose.
Poggio Del Molino is perched strikingly on the Mediterranean, near the town of Piombino in the Livorno province of Tuscany. The site was originally a Roman fortress built to defend against pirates that ravaged the Baratti coast. It became a “Villa Rustica” with a sizeable garum processing operation, until its later phase as a luxury “Villa Maritime.” It then lay abandoned for some time, until some early Christians moved in. The history of the place, like the history of any spot on the map, is long and interesting, but only to those interested in its history, so I will refrain from elaborating ad nauseum.
I learned that archaeology is not always as gentle a process as it is depicted to be in cinema, and excavating on a hillside has made me more comfortable than I ever thought I’d need to be with stratigraphic relationships and Harris matrices. I was lucky enough to uncover some interesting finds, and every day there was some excitement. I was told by some before I left that Italy could never live up to my expectations. That was a lie. Being a classics student in Italy is like heaven.
After the dig, I spent some time in Rome, seeing the sights, and generally wandering around (especially in the Capitoline Museum) in a daze. It was incredible to see so many pieces of art and buildings that I had studied in CANES courses in real life. My experience this summer greatly refreshed my appetite for studying Classics, and certainly made me want to get back into the field as soon as possible.
Latin, Classical Humanities, and Environmental Studies
I spent my summer in Milwaukee, WI serving tables at a French restaurant and working remotely for UW-Madison’s Registrar Office. This July, I celebrated the beginning of my 5th year working there at Le Reve Patisserie et Café. It’s a fun, fast-paced environment. The regulars have grown to love me even more this season; one of the couples that come in each Saturday gave me a woodcarving as a parting gift.
When I did not work, I was out in nature! I filled my free time kayaking, hiking, and biking around state parks or hitting up the climbing gym. One of my favorite memories this summer has been kayaking with my siblings in the UP. I am excited to continue these hobbies in Madison as cooler weather approaches (I also fed my concert addiction this summer and will be attending many more this semester).
Best story: I involuntarily was signed up to dog-sit my mom’s friend’s beagle named ‘Beagle Bea’ for two and a half weeks. On the third to last day, Beagle Bea bolted from my car into the woodsy neighborhood at sundown. I searched for two hours and called my manager at Le Reve to say I might not come into work the next morning if I could not find her. My manager and a coworker helped me look for three more hours in the dark. Sadly, the prosciutto and pizza did not entice Beagle Bea out of the woods. We called it quits, only to have Beagle Bea show up knocking on the door at 5:30am like nothing happened.
This summer I returned to my home country, Turkey, and stayed there for a whole 3 months! While there, I had the opportunity to meet and work with the staff of our local archaeological museum in Eskişehir, my hometown. With the help of Professor William Aylward, I got permission from the museum to write and publish an article on one of the artifacts in the museum. After completing this project, I hope to work with the staff of the museum to publish some of their other ancient artifacts and make them known to a wider academic audience.
I also worked as a language partner to beginner students learning Turkish under the Turkish Flagship Language Initiative (TURFLI) program. For two months, I helped four students with daily conversation practice to strengthen their spoken language skills. The working hours were difficult with the time difference, but it was rewarding to help such eager students to learn Turkish!
Towards the end of the summer, Eric Hensley (CANES) and I visited archaeological sites in Turkey. For the first time in my life, I got to go inside excavation houses and meet the excavation teams at several of these sites! One of them included Sardis, where we met up with Professor Nick Cahill (Professor in Art History).
The Aegean coast of Turkey is quite hot in July and August, and I can say I now appreciate archeologists and the work they do even more! I learned that they start to work around 6 am and continue to work until 8 pm and they do a pretty tough job under the scorching sun!
Overall, I had a productive summer but also got to see friends and family in Turkey, which was good since I live so far from them in Madison. I am grateful that I was able to fit so much into this summer.
This summer I was grateful that I got to travel a lot and learn so much more about the material culture side of Classics!
I started in Greece with a course on Epigraphy (inscriptions) of the Aegean islands through HERC (Hellenic Education Resource Center). on the island of Paros. We examined inscriptions specifically from Cycladic islands and learned about their content, historical background, and how to approach them through modern historical research. We also got to examine several inscriptions close up in the Epigraphical Museum in Athens and learned how to draw the inscriptions for publication.
Next, I went on an archaeological dig on Crete at the site of Lyktos, up in the central mountains of the island. The city was most famously mentioned by Hesiod as the place where Rhea hid baby Zeus in a cave to save him from being eaten by his father. The city itself was occupied throughout antiquity, but my focus was on the Roman-era meeting house or bouleuterion and possibly an imperial cult center.
Lastly, I went on a road trip around the Aegean coast of Turkey with Hakan Özlen (CANES) to see many of the ancient sites there. I find it so helpful to contextualize the ancient works we study when you can see the cities where these people lived and the landscapes that were familiar to them. Most impressive were Ephesus, Aphrodisias, and Sardis, where we also met up with Nick Cahill (UW Art History), the director of the excavations there. Just a quick internet search will show you how impressive the ruins are in these places.
Overall, my summer was very busy, but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to do so much traveling and experiencing another side of the field of Classics.