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A New York University team finds Roman artifacts during an excavation in Cyprus


A group of students and faculty from NYU’s Department of Classics recently completed a three-month study of ancient Roman artifacts in Cyprus.

Nellie Coroben and Meredith Miller at the Monica Harbor excavations in Cyprus. (Courtesy of Joan Bretton Connelly)

A team of NYU students, led by a NYU Classics professor, completed a three-month excavation this month on the island of Heronisos, a small island off the west coast of Cyprus. A project led by Joan Breton Connelly has revealed more information about maritime trade in the last centuries of the Roman Empire.

The team discovered Roman containers used to transport wine along the coast of Manica – a harbor that once housed ancient settlements – and evidence of pilgrimage between southern Palestine and Cape Drepanum, on mainland Cyprus. The excavation was part of the Department of Classical Sciences’ Ierannis Island Excavations and Field School, a ten-year program that gives undergraduate and graduate students the opportunity to participate in archaeological fieldwork on the island.

“Our motto at NYU’s School of Excavations at Heronisos Island is ‘Learn by doing,'” Connelly told WSN. “We try to match each student with a senior teacher who works in a field of special interest to the student. Our international interdisciplinary team of experts, who join us in the field each season, are eager to work with students who want to study their disciplines.”

The team used diver propulsion machines – diving equipment used to increase the distance a diver can reach underwater – to explore deeper areas than they could in the past. They covered about 12,200 meters of coastline and went down to 30 meters to find ancient stone and metal anchors.

David Levene, chair of the classics department, said students participating in the Yeronis dig are being trained in archaeological principles and practices. He noted that the department financially supports several students working in the expedition.

Stephanie Lynn Savage, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Classics, who participated in the excavation project, said she led student excavations, adding that she had previously been part of teams in Greece and the southeastern United States.

Meredith Millar, Ricardo Meisle and Stephanie Lynn Savage at the Monica Harbor excavations in Cyprus. (Courtesy of Joan Bretton Connelly)

The team is now looking to expand its underwater research program by using advanced technology to study the island’s geographic history.

“The experience that sticks with me when I reflect on my time in Cyprus is the intense teamwork required to do a job like an archaeological dig,” Savage said. “Last season, we were extremely fortunate to work with students and scientists who were not only brilliant, but pure joy in the field. You don’t always get to dig with your dear friends, but when you do, it makes the job so much more enjoyable.”

Contact Stella Zhong at [email protected]

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