Randolph students were actively involved in a conservation project in Italy that won an international award this summer.
The Centro di Conservazione Archaeologica (CCA) in Cabras, Italy was awarded the 2015 Public Choice Award from Europa Nostra, a pan-European organization that strives to preserve natural and cultural history. The award recognized the organization for its efforts to conserve the Nuragic Sculptures of Monte Prama in Sardinia, Italy.
Five Randolph students enrolled in the Archaeological Conservation Institute (ACI), as well as students from other institutions, worked at the CCA for 11 days this summer alongside Roberto Nardi, the director, and Randolph Professor of Classics Susan Stevens, who lead the ACI programs. The program also included sightseeing and occasional beach trips.
“We cleaned and documented the fragments of the famous Giant sculptures from Monte Prama found in 2014,” said Stevens. “In our free time, we visited archaeological sites–in particular, the Nuraghe, which are fantastic Bronze Age castles dating to 1500-1000 BC, the most famous of which is Su Nuraxi. The culture that produced the Nuraghe also made the sculptures that we conserved.”
This is the fourth year ACI has partnered with the CCA, and this year’s program was a continuation of the CCA’s prize-winning project with a stronger emphasis on community involvement, Stevens said. Part of that community involvement was achieved by bringing local Italian school groups to the CCA to observe the work of ACI students and to learn more about the sculptures and their community’s ancient history.
In return, the community showed its support by voting for the Monte Prama project in the Europa Nostra website polls. According to Europa Nostra, more than 5,500 people cast their votes among 28 projects for the People’s Choice Award. One Sardinian citizen commented that the award “could help relaunch a piece of history in the Mediterranean that is still missing from the history books.”
The Randolph students who participated in the project this year included John Ruml ’17, Natalie Miller ’17, Laura Snell ’16, John-Aubrey Stone ’17, and Maria Taylor ’17. The group was able to closely interact with the people of Sardinia and other areas of Italy they visited.
“It is clear they were prepared to be exposed to this kind of experience, and they showed from the very beginning they were ready to be directly involved in the work,” Nardi said. “Because this was real field work and the Randolph group participated from the very beginning, they also took part in the logistics of the project. This is an extra experience that I consider very formative for them.”
The experience has encouraged Snell to pursue more archaeological research.
“The time we spent working there has shown me that by conserving a group’s cultural heritage we not only preserve part of the world’s history, but we help restore a part of the regional people’s culture and identity,” she said. “The enthusiasm with which our project was met was wonderful, and it is obvious how much the statues mean to the people of Cabras.”
Miller said the trip was the first time she had been outside the country, and the first time she had even left the East Coast of the United States. Now, she has become a seasoned world traveler and is already thinking about future adventures.
“My mindset was something like, ‘Well, I don’t travel, so wanting to go to another country is a cool idea, but not really something that’s going to happen, because I don’t do that,’” she said. “Now that I’ve been out of the country, I don’t see any reason why I can’t or shouldn’t do it again. I’m already figuring out where I want to go next!”
“As a result of this summer’s work the initial phase of the project has been completed,” said Nardi. “All 1,934 fragments (from 51 crates) have been photographed, mapped and documented, noting typology and joins wherever possible. All the fragments have also undergone preliminary mechanical cleaning with brushes, scalpels, and spraying with atomized water.
“The next phase of the project, probably in summer 2016, will consist of the final treatment and consolidation of fragments, and sorting them first by typology, then by statue or model in preparation for the reassembly of fragments into sculptures in standing supports,” added Nardi.