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July 2001-August 2003InteractiveDig Pompeii
Heather Bouchey (University of Washington), left, has one of her weekly assessment meetings on her progress with her supervisor, Claire Weiss (Swarthmore College). Each student is closely supervised throughout the season in all areas of the discipline. Claire was a student of the AAPP in 2001 and now supervises the excavations in the Casa del Triclinio.
At the coalface: Leta Mino (University of California, Santa Barbara), left, and Lisa McNally (Tufts University) excavate together in the Inn. All of our students learn about excavation in the best possible way, by digging! The excavations recover not only artifacts and ecofacts, but reveal early walls, floors, pits and drains which build the structural history of the city block leading up to the destruction of A.D. 79.
Nancy Valiquette (Burnaby, British Columbia) receives expert training from Jaye Pont (Macquarie University, Australia) in pottery identification, analysis, and drawing.
Ramiro de la Rocha (California) at artifact HQ in the peristyle of the House of the Vestals. Here students learn by handling hundreds of local and imported artifacts, washing, sorting, analyzing, and recording them.
Michael Anderson (Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University) is one of several former students (from 1996) to have become a Pompeian scholar. Not only has Michael become a long-serving excavation supervisor for the AAPP, but he now holds a prestigious Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust scholarship to attend Cambridge University where he is presently working toward a Ph.D. on Roman housing.
Eric Poehler (University of Virginia) began with the AAPP as a student in 1998. He is now in charge of surveying the architecture and streets of our city block. Eric's survey combines his Ph.D. research on the extensive street system of Pompeii together with the surveying program of the Project. "The lessons I learnt in surveying as a student of the AAPP have been instrumental in my doctoral research," says Eric, "and I love teaching these to all of this year's AAPP students."

Photos by Jennifer Stephens. Click on images for larger versions.
by Steven Ellis

July 21, 2003: Teaching Archaeology in Pompeii

Welcome back to the Anglo-American Project in Pompeii for 2003!

Now in our ninth season of excavating one of the world's largest and most famous archaeological sites, the AAPP continues to make exciting new advances in the teaching of archaeology to students from across the globe. Our multinational student body comprises 67 students from 40 universities. This diversity is matched by a wide range of personal and academic experiences; our students study the classics, ancient history, sciences, ancient languages and, of course, archaeology!

But what makes an archaeologist, and how do we teach archaeology in a research environment?

For most, it is a love of the past, and a desire to understand its many forms, patterns, and intricacies. That some of these might be recognisable in the archaeological record is extremely fortunate and helps us to ask more and better questions of the past. Many of these--how did people live, eat, work, and interact among their community--can be asked of Pompeii. With one of the most complete material records of all sites, the city continues to inspire not only the interested public, but especially our staff and students.

The unique preservation of Pompeii presents an ideal training ground in which to teach future generations of archaeologists. Only through careful instruction of the best and most appropriate methods are we able to generate the high quality of research for which this project is renowned. Our successful integration of teaching and archaeological practice has produced the best studied city block in Pompeii.

Our students learn through taking an active role in the project's extensive research program. All major aspects of archaeological practice are covered in the field school: from the excavation and architectural analysis of houses, bars, inns, shops, and shrines, to the identification and recording of the tiniest food scraps, or the types of plates on which they were once prepared and served.

Ashley Basgall (University of Kansas) scans her plate of tiny organic remains such as fishbones and scales, olive pips, land and marine shells, and mammal bones. Many of these are too small to be seen when excavated, but because of their organic content will actually float when the soil in which they have remained for 2,000 years is passed through a series of water tanks. This sorting of the organic material helps to piece together a more complete picture of Pompeian city life.

Our students are supervised and taught by a group of 40 experienced archaeologists working with the Field Directors and Project Directors. By the end of the five week season, each student will have attained a strong understanding of the methods and processes of archaeology, as well as practical experience on a complex urban site. Along the way each student maintains a personal journal documenting the work done and the lessons learned. These help not only in the understanding of the archaeological process, interpretation, and recording of information, but also feed into the assessable component of the course: the field school is a fully accredited university course in the Department of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Bradford, U.K.

Pat Daniel (Network Archaeology Ltd.--Lincoln, U.K.) has devoted his life to excavating the past. As a professional archaeologist in the UK, Pat now spends his vacation time teaching our students, and discovering the secrets of Pompeii. "I find it extremely therapeutic" says Pat with a grin, "to shift my focus from uncovering sites which will soon be destroyed by parking lots and shopping malls, to conducting excavations for the purpose of archaeological research and knowledge. I especially enjoy the teaching aspect: to pass on the basic skills and training I've learnt over the years is fantastically rewarding!"

The excavations recover thousands of artifacts and ecofacts. All of our students learn about the recovery and treatment of these and how they contribute towards an understanding of our city block--from dating parts of buildings to determining changing patterns of ancient trade, consumption, and economic buying power.

Sarah Jacobson (Hendrix College) and Mike Rocchio (Indiana University) were selected as advanced students from among the AAPP student alumni of earlier seasons. This year we have 18 advanced students. The advanced student program offers further specialised training and responsibility to those students wanting to increase their skills and experience.

We have a strong commitment to fostering student participation in archaeological research. Several of our past students have launched into successful careers as archaeologists around the world. Indeed, a number of present staff members and Pompeian scholars are AAPP field school alumni.

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