Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mac Classics Graduate Student in Rome

Ms. Barbara Scarfo (M.A. '12) spent her summer researching in Rome. She reports:

This summer I spent three weeks in Rome, to begin research for my Master’s thesis on the funerary commemoration of children. I stayed at the British School at Rome (BSR), located in the Valle Giulia near the Borghese Gardens. Thanks to its academic environment, I was able to interact with other scholars from Britain and Australia who research different areas of Roman history. I spent the majority of my time in museums looking at material related to my thesis, such as freedmen reliefs, funerary altars and sarcophagi. I was able to visit the various museums of the Museo Nazionale Romano (Palazzo Altemps, Palazzo Massimo and the Baths of Diocletian) as well as the Musei Capitolini. However, the highlight of my trip was visiting the Musei Vaticani. Through the BSR I was able to obtain a special permit that gave me access to areas of the Vatican that are usually closed off to visitors, such as the Museo Gregorio Profano and the Galleria Lapidaria. I also went on daytrips to Tivoli, to visit Hadrian’s Villa, and Ostia, an expansive archaeological site with a great museum. In addition to doing research for my thesis, I did some sightseeing at the Forum Romanum and the Imperial Fora, St. Peter’s, and other areas of Rome – including the incredible restaurants and sights in Trastevere. It was a wonderful experience that I will never forget!

(Photos courtesy of B. Scarfo: top left: Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, top right: Vatican, Cortile del Belvedere)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mac Master's Student working in Italy

Liana Brent (M.A. `12) recently returned from a summer of research and fieldwork. She reports:

This summer, I was an assistant trench supervisor at the Coriglia Project near Orvieto with a team from St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire for May and June. The site was in use from the sixth century BC until the fourth century AD, with various Etruscan and Roman phases. It was the first time I’ve ever worked at an Etruscan site, and we had some pretty interesting finds. Weekends were spent site-seeing in Tuscany and Umbria at sites such as Orvieto, Cortona, Perugia, Florence, and Assisi.

After leaving Orvieto, I spent a week researching for my MA thesis at the British School at Rome. The School has a great library with many archaeological publications that are not available anywhere in Canada. For July and August, I went down to Gravina in the Puglia region of southern Italy where I was a trench supervisor at the Vagnari Project. There I worked with a team of undergraduate anthropology students from McMaster University (under the direction of Dr. Tracy Prowse, Dept. of Anthropology) in a first to third century Roman cemetery. Since my MA research is related to burial practices in the Vagnari cemetery, working in the necropolis was the highlight of my summer, next to all the incredible Italian food!

(Photo of author working on-site at Vagnari, Italy)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mac Classics Graduate Student in Athens

Ms. Katherine Denkers (MA `12) spent her summer in Athens, Greece. She reports:

For the past two months I have had the privilege of living in Greece. Thanks to the support of the Department of Classical Studies at McMaster University and the Raynsford Eatock Award I was able to participate in the Summer Session of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens and I was able to get an early start on my MA thesis research while staying at the Canadian Institute in Greece.

The American School Summer Session is an intensive learning program where participants travel to nearly all of the major historical sites in Greece under the guidance of experienced and knowledgeable directors. While the Summer Session was an amazing educational experience, there were also a number of other benefits. Because the Summer Session students are housed at the ASCSA residence Loring Hall, there were many opportunities to network not only with the other Summer Session students but also prominent and expert scholars who were also staying there. The regularly scheduled tea and ouzo hours in the saloni at Loring provided a friendly environment meant for exactly this purpose.

Also, Summer Session student participants are encouraged to use the Blegen and Gennadius Libraries' resources. The access to these facilities and resources were invaluable to me in pursuing research for my thesis. I was lucky enough to be able to extend my stay in Greece beyond the end of the 6 week Summer Session by staying at the Canadian Institute in Greece. The Institute is within walking distance of the ASCSA libraries so I was able to continue my research. The hostel maintained by the CIG was just like being at home with a fully stocked kitchen, air conditioning and friendly staff. It was also another great opportunity to meet other people from all academic levels in the field of Classics.

Traveling all over Greece was both physically and mentally exhausting. One student in my group wore a pedometer for the duration of the trip and at final count we had each taken somewhere around 1 000 000 + steps! However, the hot sun and aching feet were easily forgotten when we were given the opportunity to run a race at Olympia, to stand on top of the Parthenon, or explore the labyrinthine corridors behind the throne room at Knossos. I can honestly say that besides being a wonderful educational experience it was also an unforgettable life experience as well.

(Photos courtesy of K. Denkers. Clockwise: K. Denkers and the Athenian Acropolis, K. Denkers in front of the statue bases from the Philippeion at Olympia, K. Denkers inside the Parthenon)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mac Classics in Athens

The Department of Classics at McMaster University was represented in Athens this summer by Prof. Spencer Pope and Katherine Denkers (M.A. `12), who met up at the Kerameikos for dinner in Gazi. Both are working at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, where Ms. Denkers also participated in the Summer Session program. For more information on the American School in Athens, go to