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Archaeology Abroad: Dispatches From Worldwide Digs

It's studying abroad, Indiana Jones-style. Students on UCLA archaeological digs from Ecuador to Panama send their travel notes home to the blog Summer Digs. Dig in!

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By Alison Hewitt

Published Jul 7, 2008 1:00 AM


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These archaeologists do all kinds of digging: program participants in Canada celebrate completing construction of their outhouse.


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Mountainside ruins in Peru.

Enjoy some Summer Digs from home

UCLA's archaeology institute and its study abroad office have teamed up to send students to field digs around the world. They'll excavate mummies in Chile's Atacama Desert, comb the jungle near the remains of an Indian village in Panama, and map ancient graves in Albania. Best of all, these intrepid Bruins, some of their field advisers and students joining the digs from other colleges will send back dispatches about their adventures throughout the month of July. The Summer Digs blog will feature their travel notes here, thanks to the collaboration between the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA's International Education Office (IEO), UCLA Magazine and UCLA Today.

  • Read more about the program in this article or in the program descriptions,
  • peruse the press release,
  • hear two perspectives from a previous summer in Chile,
  • or jump straight to the blog postings.
  • Among the recent posts:

    • UCLA's Vanessa Muros describes the find of a belt buckle, possibly Ottoman, in Albania.
    • Albania is a long way from an American supermarket. UCLA's Lyssa Stapleton writes about the food she misses and the new food she loves. She also sends back a recipe for her favorite local dinner, a classic Albanian dish called Imam Bajalldi.
    • Some of UCLA's archaeologists in Canada (Lily Roberts and Anthony Graesch) write about how the Stó:lō people have stories linked to countless local landmarks that turn the landscape in a history book and cultural guide.
    • UCLA's Vanessa Muros in Albania takes a break from ancient archaeology to explore the nearby communist-era bunkers, complete with diagrams describing how to attack.
    • UCLA professor and archaeologist Ran Boytner explains the origin of Chile's La Tirana Festival and sends photos of the colorful costumes that go with it.
    • Bees and buffalo are part of the daily dig scene in Catalina, writes UCLA anthropology student Mike de Vera.
    • In Chile, UCLA student Evelyn Rubio writes in about analyzing mummies, and about witnessing the role of children in a local funeral service.
    • Not everyone on the Albania program knows the language, and their Albanian colleagues don't all know English. It makes for a fun, if muddled, good time, writes UCLA student Jamie Aprile.
    • UCLA's Ran Boytner discusses finding a thousand-year-old mummified mouse in Chile, and how it could help determine whether human mummies were locals or immigrants.
    • Erika Varady from Kansas State University learns about the "real" archaeologist's toolkit while mapping prehistoric sites in Catalina.
    • UCLA student Kerry Pusey in Peru tries a local delicacy: guinea pig.
    • UCLA's Ran Boytner sends a photo from Chile of the ancient petroglyphs, or rock art carvings, that his students are identifying and documenting.
    • Carlton College student Nicholas Scott-Wittenborn shares the tale of how a set of gymnastic rings helped his archaeological group in Chile bond with skeptical locals.
    • UCLA student Lily Henry Roberts learned to use a machete and build an outhouse in Canada.

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    A student on the nearby Santa
    Catalina Island summer
    expedition surveys a historic
    habitation site.

    More than 130 students from UCLA and other universities are participating this summer. For more details, see Cotsen Archaeology's student guide to the field programs. Some blog participants will also send their posts in Spanish.

    UCLA Today is the campus's staff and faculty newspaper, and UCLA Magazine is the university's alumni magazine. Together, Cotsen, IEO, the paper and the magazine have worked together to create this blog. For questions or more information, check out the contact page.

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