Grove City College works with the Archaeological Conservation Institute each summer to provide hands-on education for students interested in classical studies. The program is an excellent opportunity for the adventurous spirit to travel, to discover a new culture and to meet wonderful new people.
The program, run by the highly-esteemed conservator Roberto Nardi, gives students the chance to work on archaeological projects. In my case, it was the famed Giants of Mont’e Prama, a collection of statues from Sardinia that date to the ninth century B.C.
ACI students were graciously welcomed into Nardi’s home for a week of practice in stone conservation, many enjoyable sight-seeing exploits and excellent food. During our stay in his home (a restored convent), we learned about the basics of cleaning stone fragments and tested our ability to use scalpels and other tools to remove soil from the archaeological fragments, layer by layer.
Our real work started at the museum in Cabras, Sardinia, that housed some of the giant statues. In addition to the sculptures on display, there were over 5,000 statue fragments in storage at the museum, waiting for us to break out our cleaning equipment and get to work. Not only did we clean, but we diagrammed each piece, which involved indicating the presence of scalpel marks and other distinctive features. During the two weeks I spent working in Cabras, I was able to see how conservationists interact with the general public and invite interest in preserving objects of cultural heritage.
Aside from the educational and service-learning aspects of the ACI trip, I had the time of my life traveling and forging some of my best friendships. The program is a great way to meet fellow students who are interested in the classics not just from Grove City College, but from colleges across the country.