Students Dig Deep in Classical Studies Project

Talk about getting knee-deep in your studies.

Upper school students, who are learning about Mediterranean archaeology in their classical studies class, have been excavating a site on The Masters School campus to uncover artifacts representing the ancient periods in history they have discussed in class. The Modern and Classical Languages Department partnered with the Visual Arts Department to create pieces that represent the Bronze, Archaic and Hellenistic Ages. 

This was not only a hands-on, but an all-hands-in-the-ground effort. Teachers and administrators from both divisions created most of the objects in the ceramics studio, and members of the Operations, Engineering, Maintenance and Groundskeeping teams buried the objects. 

Classics teacher Brittany Farrar explained that “The dig site simulates an ‘undiscovered’ multi-phase settlement on the coast of Syria. Over the course of our monthlong excavation, students will discover and catalog artifacts representative of art styles from the periods we studied this year, then use their best judgment to determine the function and cultural sphere of the site.”

To date, the class has unearthed 38 out of the 75 objects that have been buried on campus. 

Elizabeth Fletcher ’25 detailed a number of their findings: “We have uncovered two foundations, one from a house and another which was a retaining wall. We found a mosaic that was the floor of the house we found. We found many coins, some Greek and some Egyptian. We also found an Egyptian statue, a silver cup, and an arrowhead.” 

One of the highlights of the project for Farrar has been watching her students develop a workflow. “When they come to class, they find their section of the site and pick up where they left off,” she said. “When it’s time to make a big decision about how to proceed, they talk to each other, not to me. This shows me that my students are confident in putting into practice what we’ve covered so far, and mature enough to collaborate at the level required by this activity.”

Fletcher reflected that “The curriculum has allowed me to learn so much more than I ever thought possible. We were able to apply the knowledge that we gained over the course of the class to identify objects and come up with theories. I have learned a lot about the process of an archeological dig. This entire experience has been so beneficial and a great example of productive, hands-on learning.”

The final dig is May 25. Students will present their findings in class on June 1.

You can follow their results here.