Matthew Blanchard Shares His Experience Excavating in Italy

Courtesy of Matthew Blanchard

By Catherine O’Grady

The Classics Club hosted a presentation by Matthew Blanchard, a senior history and classic civilization double major, on Thursday in which he recounted his experience excavating with the British Archaeology Project. The event was hosted in the Department of Greek and Latin in McMahon Hall and invited attendees to bring their own lunch during the discussion of ancient civilizations.  

Blanchard was interested in archeology at a young age through books and television shows. His passion for ancient civilizations was magnified after he was given the opportunity to study abroad his sophomore year.

Blanchard spent July of 2018 in Grumentum, in the southern region of Italy, with the British Archeology Project, and spent most of his days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the excavation site. Blanchard worked with a team of 15 students, half from the United States and half British from Cardiff University. The students spent hours scraping back layers of soil searching for artifacts. Any artifacts recovered could have possibly helped them date the soil and determine its uses.

Grumentum was founded in 4th century B.C. by the Lucanian people. The area was covered by a Roman colony in the 1st century. The basic structures of the Roman city still remain. The excavation team worked of recovering fragments of this lost civilization and most of the artifacts they have recovered have come from the Roman city. Blanchard spent his time excavating in the mercantile area of the city. The excavators are still working to find artifacts from the Lucanian people.

Blanchard, himself, found bone shards and ceramic sherds, but what caught his eye were the coins he discovered.

“[coins] are a piece of art and a piece of someone’s life that you are sharing across the centuries,” said Blanchard.

All of the artifacts Blanchard and his fellow excavators discovered were documented and given to the local museum in Grumentum.

After graduation, Blanchard will attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he will work towards his masters degree in Art History. Blanchard highly recommends this program to anyone even slightly interested in archeology.

“I know that you will not regret it because of what you will learn about the world around you, about where you have excavated, about the ancient world, but most importantly what you learn about yourself,” said Blanchard. More information about the British Archaeology Project can be found on their website.

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