Digging into field work

This summer, for the first time, UNG students had the opportunity to participate in an international archaeological dig. The four-week program led by Dr. Bill Balco, assistant professor of anthropology at UNG, took students to Alcamo, Italy, to investigate the site of an ancient settlement on Monte Bonifato.

The now-forested mountaintop once held an Iron Age city that could be 2,800 years old and contains the ruins of a medieval castle built on top of the ancient city around 750-1200, Balco said.

“There’s a lot of potential for that site,” Balco said. “There have been some very limited Italian excavations that have been conducted up there, but they know more about the medieval city than about the older city. The medieval city was built directly atop the older one, so the construction disturbed and destroyed a lot of the older layers.”

The team toured other historic and archaeological sites throughout the region, such as the Grotta del Genovese, which contains rock art dating back 11,000 to 12,000 years.

“There’s only so far you can take a student when you’re in the classroom and you’re trying to explain archaeology as a process,” Balco said. “But when you take them into the field and show them how to set up an excavation and how to conduct that process from start to finish, it really demonstrates the detail that archaeology requires.”