32 BUCKNELL MAGAZINE
Clare Brogan’s ’ 12’s high school Latin
classes in Bridgewater, N.J., are some 5,000
miles away from the ancient city of Thebes
in Boeotia, Greece, where, for six summers,
Brogan and other Bucknell scholars
excavated an archaeological site dating
back to 1,200 B.C.
Excavation work concluded last summer
because the permit reached its maximum
limit, according to Greek laws. But the
excitement of toiling in the trenches is vivid
for Brogan’s students.
“I bring real-world archaeology into the
classroom for them, and they get very
excited about it,” Brogan says. “I tell them
about living in Greece, working with our
Greek laborers and digging in the dirt.
“I try to play that up in my classroom and
make sure they know there’s more out there
to being a Latin scholar. It doesn’t have to
be all sitting in the library reading Cicero.”
Brogan, a classics major, worked all
six summers at the dig, first as a novice
excavator, then as manager of the dig’s
storehouse, devising a system to receive,
wash, photograph, weigh, catalog and store
the unearthed pottery, metal and bone
fragments. Eventually, she supervised
excavation teams, managing a diverse cast
of English- and Greek-speaking workers.
She manages a classroom (“one of the
hardest things in the world”), redirecting
students’ unruly behavior and engaging and
motivating them, and draws constantly on
skills acquired at the dig.
The Thebes project catalyzed professional
lives for other Bucknell scholars, too, among
them classics major Paul Brazinski ’ 11. He
took Professor Kevin Daly’s Greek Civiliza-
tion course his first year and asked, “How do
I do this forever?” when the term ended.
Catching the classics bug took him by
surprise: “I grew up in a big sports family
in Basking Ridge, N. J. I think everyone
would have thought I would become a
football coach and teacher.” Brazinski says
he’s grateful for a liberal arts school that
encouraged him to explore.
Daly and Professor Stephanie Larson,
both members of Bucknell’s Department of
Classics & Ancient Mediterranean Studies,
continue mentoring Brazinski as he writes
a thesis for his Ph. D. in church history at
Catholic University of America. Brazinski
joined the Thebes dig in summer 2011,
then earned an M.A. in archaeology at the
University of Cambridge. He’d worked on
other digs but it was the Thebes credential,
and the autonomy and responsibility he
experienced there, that helped him win
admission to Cambridge, he believes.
One more Bucknellian transformed by
his work at Thebes is Michael Furman ’ 11.
His love of classics began when he visited
campus in 2007, his senior year at North
Thurston High School in Lacey, Wash.
He wanted to be a chemical engineer or
chemist. But after wandering into a lecture
by Daly on Bucknell’s archaeology and
classics program, he envisioned a thrilling
new direction. “I have to come to Bucknell
and work with Kevin,” he decided.
He earned a B. A. in classics from
Bucknell, joined the Thebes dig in 2011
and, like Brogan, returned every season,
eventually becoming a supervisor. He has
just completed his Ph. D. in ancient history
at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
The Thebes experience gave his scholar-
ship a valuable edge, Furman says: “A lot of
people who work on Thebes and Boeotia
have never been to either. We were the first
foreign excavation team to work within the
city limits of Thebes, ever. There aren’t many
non-Greek people who [study] Thebes who
can say they’ve excavated in Thebes.”
Furman, Larson and Daly are in close
touch. “I leaned on them heavily for advice
on what [graduate] schools would be a
good fit for me.” They helped him select and
apply for a Ph.D. program, too, and read and
helped edit his thesis.
From Brogan’s New Jersey Latin classes
to Brazinski’s and Furman’s budding
academic careers, the relationships
and lessons from Thebes continue to
reverberate and grow.
— Marilyn Lewis
Alumni Launched Classics Careers After Thebes Dig
something Larson and Daly think is
important for students to learn. “You
find something that’s been buried
for possibly thousands of years, and
you’re the first one to come across it,”
she says. “You have the responsibility
to make sure that all of the details
about it are recorded well. If you are
not careful enough, no one will ever
know the particulars of that find. It’s
up to you.”
That’s why the team has amassed
more than 30,000 photographs with
detailed metadata. Their workroom
is filled with objects that they have
unearthed, cleaned, weighed, catalogued,
photographed and dated. While the
eight-week excavation season is all
about getting things out of the ground
and recording them, study season — a
time for more detailed examination
— is equally important. During this
next stage of the project, architects,
Byzantine pottery specialists and bone
experts visit sites and storerooms to
share their expertise, and professional
illustrators capture aspects of objects
that photography misses.
The team has found pottery, jewelry
and coins, among other objects. They
have also explored graves, which
requires removing human bones.
“We try to put them back together,”
Larson explains. “We’re going to do
some facial reconstructions with the
crania from some of the graves, and
we’re looking for pathological diseases
as well.” So far, they have found
leprosy, blunt trauma death, cancer,
infections and genetic abnormalities.
During this final phase, Larson
and Daly are part of an international
team of 15 scholars who plan to write
a book “that has chapters on each
phase of the life of this site,” she says.
“It’s like we’re writing a biography
of every decade of a life, only this
place includes thousands of years as
opposed to 70.”
1. Ivory spindle whorl, with incised
decoration, Middle to Late Byzantine Periods,
7th-12th century. 2. Red-figure vase with
sphinx decoration, 4th century B.C. 3. Early
to Middle Byzantine lamp with bird design in
center and burning marks, 6th-8th century.
4. Late Byzantine hemispherical bowl,
13th-14th century. 5. Early to Middle
Byzantine Funerary Vessel, 6th-8th century.
6. Byzantine sgraffito duck on interior of
large bowl, late Byzantine, likely 14th
century. 7. Early to Middle Byzantine belt
buckle from grave, complete, 6th-8th
century. 8. Early to Middle Byzantine lamp,
complete, 6th-8th century. 9. Late Byzantine
die, six-sided, made from bone, with all
numbers of dots painted on each side, likely
13th century. 10. Bowl from Ottoman pipe,
14th-15th century. 11. Middle Byzantine lamp
with cross design, 7th-9th century.