TROY, University of Pisa partner to let students dig through history

A new agreement with the University of Pisa (Italy) allows TROY archaeology students to dig through historic sites in Tuscany.

A new agreement with the University of Pisa (Italy) allows TROY archaeology students to dig through historic sites in Tuscany.

A new cooperative partnership with an Italian university is giving Troy University archaeology students a chance to explore one of the world’s most historic areas.

TROY students spent this summer working on a historical dig with the University of Pisa, the first in what are planned to become yearly trips to Italy.

The partnership came about due to the work of TROY First Lady Janice Hawkins and Dr. Stephen Carmody, Assistant Professor of Anthropology.

“Mrs. Hawkins was heavily involved in the University’s Pietrasanta visits, and as she was over there last summer, the University of Pisa showed her their archaeology museum,” Carmody said. “She told them we have an archaeology program and that we should work together, and that started the chain of events.”

Carmody’s own history in Italy as a student made him especially interested in reaching out and exploring the opportunity to return.

“TROY used to have the Ashkelon project,” he said. “When I applied for the job here, they were interested in having another international field project. This past year, they asked if I wanted to work abroad, and since I actually did my field study in Italy, I had familiarity and was excited.”

Carmody reached out to Pisa and quickly concluded the two institutions would be perfect matches for one another in archaeology.

“I flew over in January, spent a week visiting all their sites, visiting field accommodations, and it just worked out,” he said. “It was that easy.”

Two TROY students dig at an ancient burial site in Vada, Italy, while instructors from the University of Pisa look on in the background.

This initial trip brought six TROY students along with one from Sewanee, where Carmody previously taught to participate in Digging Vada, a University of Pisa summer school project that involves archaeological research in Vada, located along the coast of Tuscany.

According to the project’s website, its purpose is twofold. It aims to educate students about the scientific methods and technology used by archaeologists today, and continues investigations into a recently uncovered ancient building and an ancient cemetery.

“This summer we were digging at a cemetery, and we’re not really allowed to do that in North America, so that’s an incredible opportunity for our students to be able to experience that,” Carmody said. “It’s always beneficial to students to get out and see the world. When I was a student, it changed the way I looked at the world and archaeology for sure.”

TROY will also be providing Carmody’s expertise to Pisa.

“I’m going to start doing research on their site for them as part of their project,” he said. “They asked what we can offer besides students. The focus of the field school is classical archaeology, so they’re really interested in that transition from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Their focus is on architecture and ceramics. My interest is in plant remains. They want that analysis. My interest is in earlier time periods, and they have those on the site – Copper, Bronze and Iron Age deposits.”

The partnership could also lead to TROY student internships as well as Pisa faculty and students coming to TROY.

“The department is extremely grateful to Mrs. Hawkins for her help in establishing this cooperative partnership,” said Dr. Bill Grantham, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The plan is for a long-term partnership that gives opportunities to students and faculty on both sides.”

Carmody said the experience of studying overseas is vital on both a personal and professional level.

“To go and participate in an excavation with students from around the world is an incredible experience,” he said. “Whether these students decide to go to graduate school and pursue classical archaeology and work in Italy, or if it’s just a summer experience where they get to go and meet people from all over the world and work with an international team of archaeologists, it’s a positive experience, one I’m happy to be part of.”