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Exonians Dig into Etruscan-Roman Past

Two PEA classical students explore ancient artifacts.

Mike Catano
June 16, 2016

Roman/Etruscan archeological dig outside Orvieto, Italy where two PEA students are working

Interest in the classics and linguistics leads two Exonians to an Etruscan/Roman archeological dig in Orvieto, Italy this summer. A blog of their experiences will document their work.

Many Exonians pursue academic and cultural opportunities overseas on their own or through Academy sponsorship. This summer, two students found their way to an archeological exploration in Orvieto, Italy.

Joonho Jo ’17 developed a passion for the classics at Exeter. ”I fell in love with the classics just three years ago. After taking modern languages all my life, the Exeter Classical Language Department turned on a switch in my humanities endeavors,” says Jo.

Last summer, Jo jumped at the opportunity to take a hands-on approach when he joined eight Exonians in an excavation of a wealthy Gallo-Roman home in Bibracte, France (see his daily blog).

The rewards of that experience led Jo this summer to Orvieto, Italy where the young classicist will be learning more about Etruscan and Roman history. The Coriglia site is believed to be an Etruscan healing shrine which turned into Roman baths. The Roman layer of the site dates to around 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., which is focused around the Augustan Age – a period of particular interest to Jo.

Joining Jo in Orvieto is fellow classmate Bliss Perry ’17. He brings his background in the classics accumulated since the sixth grade, when he began studying Latin, followed by other languages including ancient Greek. Perry is a three-year co-head of Exeter’s Linguistics Society and a semi-finalist in the North-American Computational Linguistics Olympiad.

Perry’s linguistic skills will be challenged at the excavation as he helps Professor George, the leader of the dig, to puzzle out Etruscan inscriptions. ”The Etruscan language is written in a unique right-to-left form of the Greek alphabet, unrelated to Latin, and hitherto not deciphered,” says Perry. ”This sounded intriguing. After confirming that I would be able to help Professor George, I was hooked.”

After the Orvieto project, Perry will live with a host family in Indore, India to study Hindi with the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program.

Interested in learning more?

Read Jo and Perry's blog...

Listen to podcasts at the Dig Umbria 2016 blog ...