I took Archaeology in the Field this past summer....

Written by
Lucy Levenson
Jan. 12, 2023

A Firsthand Account of the Work/Study Course “Archaeology in the Field” ART/CLA/HLS 304

I took “Archaeology in the Field” this past summer and I highly recommend it to anyone who is curious about archaeology and looking to experience something new.

The excavation part of the course is a rare chance to work on an actual archaeological project with professionals. If you have any interest in pursuing a career in archaeology, this opportunity is invaluable. However, even if you don’t have an interest in archaeology as a career, this project will be a rewarding experience. I was surprised by the amount of pottery we found. We were regularly excavating artifacts from a millennium ago or more. Aside from the actual excavation, we had the opportunity to learn how to analyze materials in the lab. I particularly enjoyed the process of identifying the pottery shards we found in the field and being able to examine artifacts impressive enough to be in a museum up close.

Two students examining pottery sherds

Piecing together ceramic sherds in Pagouria (Photo/Lucy Levenson)

We were regularly excavating artifacts from a millennium ago or more.

In addition to the archaeological work, this class includes written assignments as well as a weekly seminar about both archaeology generally and the history of the region we were excavating. As an ORFE major, I hadn’t taken many humanities classes at Princeton yet, but this class was accessible and the content was always interesting. We went through the extensive history of the region chronologically through lectures and readings, and oftentimes our learning would coincide with what we were finding on survey and on excavation. I can’t imagine a better way to learn about the past than finding actual artifacts from these historical periods as you go.

Student conducting a land survey

Marking GPS data at the dig site (Photo/Lucy Levenson)

Aside from the work week, each Saturday Professor Arrington would take the entire group to visit new destinations in northeastern Greece such as cities, archaeological sites, and museums. These Saturday excursions were my favorite part of the summer. The destinations were places I would never have thought to visit myself or maybe even have been able to find information on. It was great to not have to do any planning and just get on and off the bus and be in a new city looking at interesting things.

Group of students at restaurant table

The undergrads gathered for dinner at a local restaurant in Komotini (Photo/Lucy Levenson)

The city we lived in, Komotini, was lovely, super walkable, and friendly, and had a good amount of restaurants and things to do (contrary to what Yelp shows you!). Exploring the city itself was always a good time, and we would write essays and complete readings at the outdoor cafe across the street from the hotel.

I really fell in love with Komotini and will be looking for opportunities to return.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to have the trip fees covered by SAFE, and Professor Arrington and the department took care that the cost of the course was not a concern. All in all, I had an unbelievably great time in this course. The work, the learning, and the people exceeded my very high expectations in every way! I cannot recommend enough that you apply, even if archaeology is not in your future plans.

From June 17th to July 29th, students will excavate a Greek sanctuary and a farmstead, learning archaeology through fieldwork, lab work, workshops, and lectures. Apply here by February 10, 2023.

Hillside Greek village

A view of Samothrace, one of our Saturday excursion destinations (Photo/Lucy Levenson)