For the past two summers a small group of St. Olaf students have enjoyed the opportunity to spend a few weeks in the Turkish countryside, excavating at Antiochia ad Cragum archaeological site outside the small town of Gazipasa in southern Turkey. This summer, they will be joined by sophomore So/An major Ellen Meyers.
Meyers entered St. Olaf certain she would be a Sociology/Anthropology major due to her ultimate goal of studying forensic anthropology, and her general interest in the disciplines. She says that all her classes have fascinated her and confirmed that she made the right choice in major. When she first heard about the excavations in Turkey during an ancient history class taught by the program’s faculty advisor, Professor Tim Howe, she was immediately interested in the possibility of participating in a similar experience. “I’ve always been kind of interested in that general area of the world,” she explains. St. Olaf has joined forces with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln over the past two years to excavate the 1st century Roman market town, with St. Olaf’s project focused on excavating the site’s acropolis. Meyers applied to participate in the program, which consists of approximately twenty students, from St. Olaf and Carleton. “You don’t need any previous experience, which was very attractive to me, because I have no previous experience” she jokes.
Meyers doesn’t have any illusions that it won’t be a challenge, particularly because it will be her first time traveling abroad. From a small town in Minnesota, she is excited to experience another country and place, and get the chance to learn about the history of another area. “I come from a small farm community, about 2000 people, and it’s almost all German” she explains, and she has always enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. She’s been trying to learn about the area, “right now I’ve been doing a lot of google searches” she says, learning about current events, but also the history and culture of the area. “We’re actually going to be there over Ramadan, so that’s going to be interesting.” As a So/An major she relishes the opportunity to spend time in a new place, broadening her worldview and learning how other people see the world.
While she says she thinks it would be exciting to make a find, she finds the course appealing because she will learn proper methods of archaeological fieldwork, something she is not only interested in, but knows will be useful for her planned career path. “Everybody thinks of archaeology like ‘oh you’re going to dig up bones and artifacts and stuff’ and we’re going to do some of that but we’re also going to learn about different types of soils and excavation techniques and what they think used to be there” she explains. Meyers and the other students have already had a meeting with the leaders of the program, where they learned about previous finds at the site (such as early Christian crosses, coins, and statues) as well as the research goals for this year’s excavations.
We look forward to hearing about Ellen’s experiences when she gets back next year!
Thanks to fellow Ole student Lizzy Bews for information on the program.