American Excavations at Morgantina:

Contrada Agnese Project

I can recall, nearly to the minute, when I fell in love with archaeology

I can recall, nearly to the minute, when I fell in love with archaeology. It was the day of our trench tours, when everyone – from both town and the field – came together to survey our progress and hear about our goals and objectives. Earlier that morning my trench supervisor, Ben Crowther, had informed us that tradition held that two of the volunteers would give the tour and he selected me as one of the two to represent our trench. The prospect filled me with terror. While I had enjoyed the last three weeks of pick-axing dirt, running wheel barrels and even weighing tiles, I hadn’t truly stepped back to examine why I was doing all these things. Thoughts raced through my mind as I questioned Ben and my fellow trenchmates about the work we’d done. In spite of the endlessly supportive environment that is AEM:CAP, I was still frightened of making a complete fool out of myself in front of the entire team whom I had come to admire and respect.

When the time came for the tours to begin, I was sweating from more than just the Sicilian sun. Ours was not the first trench to go, and I watched in awe as my fellow volunteers spoke intelligently about mudbrick walls and potential phasing. When the time came for Trench 44 to present, I was as anxious as ever, but my assigned partner Jeremy took some of the weight off by starting the tour. As we spoke about internal versus external space, about tile fall and potential floor paving stones, I realized I had absorbed more knowledge than I had given myself credit for. And as the tour went on, I realized how all the work I was doing was contributing to the bigger picture, to this adventure much larger than any individual worker. We stood on the ridge overlooking the whole site and for the first time I began to connect our walls to the spaces around us, and in the context of the whole Morgantina site. I swelled with the pride of being a part of something larger than myself. And immediately following that feeling was the burning desire to know so much more. I wanted to know how to figure out not answers, but questions, the questions my supervisors were asking. How do you explain this wall, or these paving stones, or this odd arrangement of tile fall? I was consumed by the urge to learn. Even as the day ended and we piled back onto the bus for the ride back to Aidone, I was riding high on the sensation of adventure and purpose that afternoon had given me. The rest of the summer I asked many more questions, always wanting to know the purpose of any assigned task, and was met with consistent support of my newfound curiosity. Though I have finally scrubbed the last particles of Morgantina dirt from beneath my fingernails, the passion I came upon that Wednesday afternoon has not waned, and I look forward to many more summers sweating, laughing, learning and living for the dig.



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