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Ancient History students dig up new experiences in Italy

Page last published: 21 Sep 2015

Ruin at CarsulaeThe Australian Carsulae Archaeological Project is going from strength to strength and giving Macquarie University students the opportunity to work on Ancient Roman sites in Italy.

A trip in July led by Macquarie Early Career Fellow Dr Jaye McKenzie-Clarke saw nine undergraduate students work with Italian archaeologists as part of the course unit AHIS 347 – Archaeological Fieldwork.

Over the course of four weeks, students were instructed in a variety of archaeological methods including pickaxing, shoveling, trowelling, brushing and pottery washing. They were taught to identify stratigraphic differences and correctly fill out stratigraphic unit documentation. Students were also able to see, first hand, the measures taken to conserve the site. This involved the reconstruction of walls damaged by the electrical cable and the capping of walls to ensure their conservation and protection from further degradation.

Nicole Holmes, a current Bachelor of Ancient History at Macquarie University says of the experience, "The first hand experience… was vital for my studies as well as improving my capabilities in archaeology and pottery analysis. In both the museum and the site we got to work alongside an encouraging and friendly Italian team which increased my enthusiasm and motivation for ancient history".

This is the second year of Macquarie Ancient History students working at this site and their excavations aimed to further expand and explore the site, along with identifying the impact of the installation of electrical cables through the area in the 20th century. This unique experience for students is something of a rarity, especially at undergraduate level, and speaks volumes about the research and partnership strengths of Macquarie University in the archaeological and ancient history fields.

"Participating in an actual Roman site, with Roman ruins and artefacts, is something that just can't be achieved in Australia. Not to mention, the finds at Carsulae are abundant and always interesting to work with… it was an unforgettable and rewarding experience." says Nicole.

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