At the Vigla site, Robinson was particularly interested in the vast quantity of pottery the team turned up. “I’ve done field work in Golden before and found one tiny piece of pottery,” she said. “In Cyprus, we found bucketsful. It was a very cool experience for me.”
Pottery is just part of what the team has uncovered in its prior visits. In excavating fortification walls and entire rooms and chambers, the team over the years has discovered coins, weapons, dog bones and complete bowls. “There’s evidence of conflict, which may speak to efforts to take over Alexander (the Great)’s kingdom,” Stephens said.
Some of the team’s findings have already led to publication in high-impact journals and presentations at academic conferences, as well as in more consumer-facing publications. “The work has really allowed us to create history from the data we’re collecting at the site,” Olson said.
Olson has been associated with the project since 2006, when he attended as a grad student. As part of the 2016 team, he helped develop a new method of excavation that provides 3D imaging of finds. It’s a method that other teams have since adopted. “It’s been a formative experience for me personally,” said Olson, “and now I get to see it do the same for our students.”
Some of the MSU Denver students who have taken part had never been abroad prior to the trip, and it really opens up their worlds and provides them with an appreciation for the past, Olson said. For the three MSU Denver students who participated last summer, the experience was life-changing.
“They had such a good trip that word about the opportunity this year spread like wildfire,” Stephens said. “I’m excited to take a full group this year, and I’m hoping that we can get enough funding for next year to allow even more students the opportunity to go.”
With the early-morning start, which allowed the team to beat the summer heat, students usually had afternoons free to explore the island and soak up the local culture, food and more. Robinson loved it all.
“The trip solidified for me that archaeology is what I want to pursue as a career,” she said. “It gave me a really great understanding of field work, and it was incredibly rewarding.”
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