Trans-Atlantic, Virtual Archaeology

August 1, 2011

When considering of the study of the ancient world, we often think of monumental architecture, impeccably preserved urban centers or extravagant tombs, celebrated literary or religious texts. These types of sources, however, offer only a limited, and often polished, window into the lives of the social elite.  It is often necessary to dig further to understand how the common man lived.

This is the goal that the scholars and students of the Roman Peasant Project are pursuing. Through the excavation of rural sites, the Roman Peasant Project draws upon the disciplines of archaeology, history, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, geophysics and geology to create the first comprehensive analysis of the agricultural, dietary, and husbandry practices of the rural lower-class which comprised about 90% of the Roman Empire’s population.

Several weeks ago, Penn Museum Anthropologists in the Making summer campers got to participate in a trans-Atlantic skype session with Penn professor of Classical Studies and co-director of the Roman Peasant Project, Campbell Grey and two of his undergraduate students. On-site in Umbria, Italy, Professor Grey had a lively conversation with the campers about what it’s like to be an archaeologist and some of the objects he found recently. We captured some of the fun in the video below: