Last week was my first archaeology conference, and it was amazing. To give a little background, I finished my last semester at Arizona State University last Spring, went to Spain for a field school, and have been working as a temp at a Cultural Resources Management firm (CRM) in Arizona.
So that leads me to my conference with the Archaeological Institute of America. Its primary focus is in Classical archaeology meaning, it is an organization dedicated to Roman, Greek, and Persian history. The first thing I learned while I was there is that it can be quite overwhelming. The conference offered about seven hours of presentations for four days, and about half a dozen at a time; so you really have to pick and choose what is a priority, and what can be put on the back burner.
One of my interests within classical archaeology is underwater projects and excavations. No, I’m not looking for Atlantis, which can only be found in Plato’s dialogues. The real reason is that there is so much to be found, everything from shipwrecks to sunken palaces from the Mycenaen and Minoan’s from pre-Greece. The particular wreck that I saw was called the “Church Wreck” off the coast of southern Sicily near a port town called Marzamimi. It was around 8 meters deep found in 1963 by Gerhard Kapitän. This wreck was hauling marble that can only be found in the Northern Adriatic with pre-chiseled columns, and ambo’s that were all disassembled. What is even more interesting is that the merchant ship it was on was during the time of Justinian I who presided over as the Eastern Roman emperor from 527 to 565 CE (AD).
The reason why this wreck is interesting is due to the disassembled marble pieces that were found. It leads to a debate in the archaeological world that the beautiful ambo’s and columns found in now Eastern Orthodox Churches and now mosques after the Turks conquered Constantinople were either assembled on site, or bought, assembled elsewhere, and brought to the churches that now have this type of Marble.
Aside from the overwhelming presentations of work that was done, I also learned that archaeologists can really drink. I only wish they can see how some of us in the guild used to drink, or still do. In conclusion, this was an amazing networking and learning experience.