Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Meet Jeff

My name is Jeff Herrick and in the fall I will begin my second year studying Roman history in the MA/Ph.D. program in Ancient History at Penn State. I received a B.A. in History, with a minor in Classical Studies, from the University of Colorado. As an undergrad, I was wowed by the stories some of my professors told about their archaeological work in Turkey, and I have since grown more and more fascinated with the history and archaeology of Anatolia. This is my first time participating in an archaeologically expedition, and I jumped at the chance to participate in the Mopsos Landscape Archaeology Project, both for my own interest in the region, and because the Mopsos project, as an archaeological field school, is an excellent opportunity for me to both gain a firsthand understanding of archaeological theory and methodology.

The focus of the Project accords well with my specific research interests, as well, since I am focusing on the adoption of Roman culture in the Eastern provinces, and Turkey has not disappointed. Each day we find a great deal of ancient ceramic sherds: roof tiles, fragments of amphorae and pithoi (shipping and storage jars), fine wares, much of it from the Roman period, simply lying exposed on the ground, even in the locals’ backyards! It is stunning to realize that this material has simply been lying here for millenia, waiting to be picked up. When the data from this expedition is interpreted and presented in a coherent framework, it may tell us a great deal about the spread of Roman cultural practices, and the consumption of luxuries such as Italian wine. Even beyond the Roman material, today I found a sherd of pottery with a painted geometric design indicating that it probably dates to the Iron Age. Turkey is amazing.

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