Ariel Taivalkoski
BA, Residential College, Anthropology, 2012
International Institute Individual Fellowship

Ariel spent two months working on excavations for Progetto Pran’e Siddi, the “Siddi Plateau Project,” as well as one month working on the environmental archaeological team on the Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia (PARP:PS). Archaeologists at the project in Siddi were excavating a bronze age Nuraghe or “tower complex” located in Sardinia, one of several on the plateau. The project aims to create an international dialogue of Sardinian archaeology.

Ariel's Internship: Progetto Pran’e Siddi

Working for Progetto Pran’e Siddi helped me to improve my excavation techniques, as well as my knowledge of Sardinian archaeology. During the 2010 season, we were able to work on two separate trenches. The first was opened in a tower of the Nuraghe (tower complex), which had seen many layers of occupation. It had originally been a large tower, but was split into two separate rooms during the middle Bronze Age. The reason behind the division of the tower into two rooms was not clear but will be pursued during the next field season. We did not find any Roman pottery in this part of the complex. The Romans frequently inhabited Nuraghe on the island. So, the absence of Romans at this site is significant. There were nuragic (Sardinian civilization) pottery and numerous floors. Since the ability to carefully excavate a floor is an important skill for an archaeologist, working in this trench provided me with the opportunity to develop this skill.

Pompeii Archaeological Research Project: Porta Stabia

After working on the excavations in Sardinia, I went to Pompeii to work for the PARP:PS excavations. PARP:PS excavates near the Porta Stabia gate by the Quadriporticus. One of the project’s main goals is to discover the relationship of the restaurants and businesses to the nearby theater and entertainment district. I was part of the environmental team, which performed the heavy fraction flotation on the sediment from the site and sorted the faunal remains. This technique is used to collect microfaunal remains such as rodent bones, bird bones, fish bones, bird eggshell, and fish scales which are present in closed contexts like amphorae (vase-shaped containers) and drains. Analysis of the remains will allow for a better understanding of the ancient Prompeians’ diet. PARP:PS is the first project to analyze microfaunal remains at Pompeii. This research will contribute to larger discussions of economics and socioeconomic status within the field of classical archaeology.

Ariel's Takeaways

Participating in the excavations in Pompeii and Sardinia greatly helped in my development as an archaeologist. Learning excavation and flotation techniques were a great addition to the knowledge base that I acquired in the classroom at the University of Michigan. After I finish my undergraduate degree in archaeology, I hope to continue on to graduate school to pursue my PhD in archaeology. My fellowship experience has helped me to discover my future research interests. I would like to continue working in Sardinia investigating questions such as cultural interactions, and socioeconomics.