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Students Report Archaeological Discoveries

July 26, 2013

Laurie Morrissey
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

Saint Anselm students and alumni wrapping up a six-week "dig" in Italy reported exciting finds-including the remains of a man who likely died in 1145 having fought in the Second Crusade.  Kristin Harper '13 made the discovery at the site of an early medieval church that was built into a series of Roman imperial structures.

Students participate in the dig projectThe college's classics department has sponsored an archaeological dig every summer for the past 20 years, led by Professor David George. This year, 18 Saint Anselm students participated, along with 20 students from other colleges. George's co-director for all the sites is Italian archaeologist Dr. Claudio Bizzarri.

Using shovels, pickaxes, trowels, and small brushes, the group worked near the Umbrian town of Castel Viscardo, in an area dotted with Roman and Etruscan architectural remains. Their findings include pieces of brick and pottery. Last summer, they excavated pyramidal structures that were carved into rock beneath the town of Orvieto, dating to at least the 5th century BCE.

Students participate in the dig projectThis summer, in addition to working at these two sites, the group added a site in the nearby town of Allerona. 

"We had been asked by the town to explore the area around Sant' Ansano," George says.  "There was a collapsed nave as well as a fresco in one of the reused Roman apses of the medieval church."

Harper, who served as the assistant trench supervisor in Allerona, was digging around what she thought were stones, and found two eye sockets looking up at her. The discovery of a crusader coin nearby was a clue to the man's likely occupation.

Several alumni join the excavations every year. Molly Gayton '08, a Latin teacher who earned a master's degree at Tufts University, served as field supervisor of the site.