RU digging this? Classics undergraduates heading this summer to Rutgers field school in Italy

View of buildings below in Roccantica2

The town of Vacone in NW Lazio, in the Sabina region of Italy. Credit: Villa Romana di Vacone Facebook page

Since 2012 Rutgers University, under the direction of Professor Gary Farney (Department of History, Rutgers—Newark), has conducted an Archaeological Field School in Italy.

The site could hardly be more evocative. It lies in the Tiber river valley in the northwestern part of the province of Lazio, about 40 miles upriver from Rome. Participants live and work near the small village of Vacone, excavating a Roman villa site with evidence of Republican, Imperial and post-antique occupation and activity. You can read all about it here.

So warm (indeed wild) congratulations are in order for three of our Rutgers—New Brunswick Classics undergraduate students, who will join the field school this summer: Jonathan Finnerty’17, Shannon Gilbert’18, and Molly Kuchler’18.

Jonathan Finnerty is a junior pursuing a double major in Classics and Philosophy, with a particular interest in Greek and Roman philosophy. He transferred to Rutgers in the fall of 2015 from Middlesex County College with a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship. For the Vacone field school, Finnerty has been awarded an Ethel S. Cook Travel Scholarship of the Rutgers Department of Classics.


Jonathan Finnerty’17

Shannon Gilbert is a double major in Classics and Health Administration, with a minor in Economics. She has received two scholarships for the Rutgers Field School at Vacone—the Center for Global Education Summer Scholarship as well as the Ethel S. Cook Travel Scholarship of the Rutgers Department of Classics. A student of Latin since the eighth grade, Shannon hopes that with the flexibility these two scholarships give her, this summer she will be able to visit more sites rich with ancient history, such as Rome, Pompeii and Delphi.


Shannon Gilbert’18

Molly Kuchler is a member of the class of 2018, who has recently declared a major in Classics (Greek and Latin option). Her coursework in the department includes advanced Greek courses in both prose and poetry. Molly plans to minor in both Religion and Philosophy.


Molly Kuchler’18

The overarching project to which the Rutgers field school contributes is the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project, which aims to excavate and preserve Republican-era Roman villas in an effort to find evidence of agricultural intensification and the ensuing economic development that characterized the region.

This summer will mark the fifth campaign season, where students from Rutgers (and other institutions too) will learn a wide array of cutting-edge archaeological field skills and methods, ranging from field survey techniques to the processing and preservation of site materials. Accepted participants for the 2016 season include students from Villanova, Lewis and Clark, Christopher Newport, CUNY, Fairfield College and Raritan Valley Community College.


Extent of excavations after the first field season (2012). You should see it now! Credit: Villa Romana di Vacone Facebook page

About the Ethel S. Cook Scholarship. Ethel Schwarzler Cook graduated in Classics from The New Jersey College of Women (the predecessor of Rutgers’ Douglass College) in 1941. She was a much-loved teacher of Latin at the Wardlaw Hartridge School (Edison, NJ) for over 40 years. The Ethel S. Cook Classics Scholarship is funded by her estate and honors her lifelong commitment to Latin and Greek and the literature and cultures of the people who spoke these languages in antiquity.

Each year the Rutgers Department of Classics holds a competition for Ethel S. Cook Scholarships to support travel abroad for programs that specialize in fields covered by Classical studies. These include Mediterranean archaeology and art history, ancient history, and studies in Greek and Latin literature and documents.

Relevant programs for the Ethel S. Cook Scholarship include, but are not limited to, those associated with the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the American Academy in Rome, College Year in Athens, the Intercollegiate Center in Rome, and archaeological field schools, such as Rutgers University Archaeological Field School in Italy. Rutgers students with GPA averages of 3.3 or better are eligible.

Applications will be accepted for programs in: the summer, fall or spring semesters, or for an academic year. For more information (and the application) see here.

And to our Vacone-bound students Molly Kuchler, Shannon Gilbert and Jonathan Finnerty—BONVM CVRSVM!!


Could it be the famous Augustan poet and Sabine farmer?  Credit: Villa Romana di Vacone Facebook page

EPILOGUE (4 September 2016): Shannon Gilbert’18 writes (September 2016), “Here’s a photo of all the Rutgers-New Brunswick students who went on the dig.”

Rutgers NB Squad

“Leftmost is myself, then Claire Marcil (an Anthropology and English major), then Luka Eglesia (also an Anthropology major), and then Molly Kuchler (a Classics major too)! Professor Gary Farney, who runs the field school, is below.”

Mosaic floor with agricultural cuts

“And here’s a mosaic floor on site that has agricultural cuts from the Middle Ages running through it.”

flower mosaic

“This is a flower mosaic that we found this summer, with conservation tools surrounding it.”

trench 4:5

“And this shows two of the trenches on site. You can see the part of the column we found and several walls!”

One response to “RU digging this? Classics undergraduates heading this summer to Rutgers field school in Italy

  1. Pingback: For RU Classics major Molly Kuchler ’18, a capstone semester at the ‘Centro’ in Rome |

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