Ramapo Students Recount Experiences in Archeology

Photo by Nicole Williams

History was re-earthed on Wednesday in the alumni Lounges, as Samantha Sproviero and Margaret Szydlik spoke of their experiences on two separate archeology digs. The two Ramapo students were sent to James Madison’s Montpelier in Orange, Virginia and Fort Caswell in North Carolina, respectively.

Stephen Rice, dean of the Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies, opened up the presentation.

“This is a culmination and also an inauguration of what I hope will be years of us sending students from Ramapo to do archeology field work,” he said. “And eventually my hope is to develop a field school of our own. Last year we got a generous donation and through the support of the Ramapo College Foundation we’re able to support sending our first two students out to do field work this past summer, the summer of 2015.”

Sproviero began with her presentation, detailing the processes that came with participating the dig.

“Layering is really an important word to describe what we do in archeology,” she said. “I think it’s tempting to just walk in there with a shovel and want to dig down, but that would defeat the whole purpose … Archeologists work layer by layer, looking for specific changes in the soil or specific changes in the inclusions to know more.”

Sproviero also commented on her personal findings, including shards of ceramics and even bones, and how the in-field process of identifying bones involved licking them to reveal the bone’s porous nature.

Szydlik spoke about the difference in her experience; especially dealing with the fact the utilities were not permanent.

“My third week, I was in the lab pretty much the whole time, it was great,” she said. “I loved the lab. It was a lot less fancy than [Sproviero’s] because it’s not permanent. The site does belong to the North Carolina Baptist Assembly, so we’re literally set up in the bottom of what used to be a morgue. We were just cleaning the stuff as rudimentary as possible.”

Szydlik went on to talk about several side trips that her group took to different archeological sights during her six-week stay.

Dean Rice then commented that Ramapo would continue this project of sending students away to archeological work sites, and that the school is still accepting applications for the summer of 2016.

Hannah Reasoner, who was in attendance, commented on student’s presentation.

“I almost wish that I was like a history major, because I’m a communications major, which deals a lot with media, and you don’t really get a lot of the historical context,” said Reasoner. “But I think that it was really interesting to hear history come alive, because history is usually considered a boring subject by a lot of people … To be able to see it, to find it, to hold it I think is really interesting.”