As students return from summer festivities with stories to tell of internships, jobs or just enjoying a little down time, some Boise State students recently returned from an excavation project in the historical town of Pompeii, Italy. With the direction of assistant professor of history Katherine Huntley, Ph.D., a group of students had the opportunity to take part in the Pompeii Post-excavation Project (PPexP) with teams from the University of Leicester and Oxford University.
The purpose of the PPexP is to navigate original research on artifacts faunal and botanical remains from excavations at Pompeii. While also training students and scholars in their recording, analysis, interpretation and dissemination to the wider world. The hope was to uncover more in-depth context analysis of artifacts from Pompeii such as pots, shards, a variety of art and architectural structures.
“We assisted in creating a catalog of what was found at a small spot within the larger site excavated by the Anglo American Project in Pompeii (AAPP) called the Bar of Phoebus. This became essentially on the job training in small finds post excavation techniques,” said Nicole Inghilterra, senior anthropology and history student. “The catalog then becomes the data which the greater community of classical archaeologists can draw upon. Our intent was then to generate accessible, usable, data. That an opportunity like this is available on an undergraduate level at BSU is fantastic.”
History can vary in interest from person to person, but the Boise State excavation team connected their work in Pompeii to the Boise State community in an academically romantic way. Through data analysis and examination of artifacts stored
by previous excavations by the PPexP, this connection between the past and present was established.
Huntley spoke passionately of this connection.
“There is value in understanding the past as its all one big puzzle. Its a good way of understanding cultural relativism. We created a way of connecting to history in our excavations.”
These excavations are planned to be an annual event, as passionate student volunteers are recruited from Huntley’s class to join each year’s new excavation team. Students will have the opportunity to attain real world experience in an archeological field and to create a vast array of memories which will not only affect them professionally but perceptually as well.
Nathan Pierce, senior history major, spoke of his admiration of the program.
“The prestige and worldwide recognition of such an alluring and fascinating place as Pompeii to have students and such a phenomenal historian-archaeologist as Dr. Huntley working there shows off BSU to the worldwide academic community as a force to be reckoned with.”
Huntley described a profound experience during one of her excavations.
“At the Bar of Phoebus we came across a pair of dice used in bars to play games or make bets and it left me thinking that some people have always been the same in some way throughout history,” Huntley said.