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Students and Alumni Return from Excavation in Italy

July 27, 2015

Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7240

Saint Anselm students and alumni continue archaeological dig in ItalyFor the past two months, Saint Anselm College students and alumni have continued the excavation of a 6th century BCE pyramidal structure beneath the city of Orvieto, Italy. Their efforts are part of the annual dig organized and overseen by the Classics department.

Led by David George, Classics department chair, 15 students and eight alumni worked diligently throughout May and June to further the excavation progress of three sites: Coriglia, Cavità, and the Necropolis at Crocifisso Del Tufo.

Despite excavating the pyramidal structure under the city for the past three summers, George and his team are still unsure of its purpose, but they believe that they are getting closer.

"[There is] great significance in the number of Etruscan language inscriptions we have recovered – over a hundred and fifty. We are also finding an interesting array of architectural and decorative terra cotta," remarks George. "However, we do not as of yet know its original function."

Although work at the Necropolis at Crocifisso Del Tufo, an Etruscan burial ground which dates back to the 6th century BCE, has halted for the year, George is excited for next season when they plan to open the tombs. The group's work there is the first exploration of the site since the 1980s.

An average day in Orvieto for some students means excavating an assigned trench at Coriglia or one of the other sites. Meanwhile, a handful of other students work in the lab cleaning and identifying artifacts and sorting and cataloging the finds. Since the dig began, the team has uncovered sculptures, mosaics, frescoes and many other objects associated with the daily life of the Romans and Etruscans.

This past January, the Saint Anselm College approved a pilot study abroad program in Orvieto, Italy: A Semester in Orvieto. The program will allow students a firsthand look at Italian culture.

"It's an exciting prospect, which will allow our students to experience the richness of Italy's culture, past and present," says Dr. George.

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Story by Alexa Napolitan '15

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