Every day this summer, seven Penn State students will rise before dawn to help uncover thousands of skeletons in mass graves in Mendes, Egypt--the largest ancient city in the Nile delta.
The students are enrolled in a field school directed by Donald Redford, professor of classics and Mediterranean studies and history. He has led many archaeological expeditions in Egypt and currently directs three sites, including the Mendes site.
"I want these students to know Egypt, both modern and ancient," said Redford. "And, through actual field experience, they will become familiar with the entire range of archaeology."
The mass graves at Mendes are believed to contain the skeletons of those who died from a variety of causes--disease, trauma or natural. The student excavation is actually part of Redford's three-year plan to analyze the site.
Some of the students will serve as site supervisors under Redford's tutelage. All will perform technical analyses with a staff of ceramics experts, archaeologists and others--and learn basic Arabic to communicate with the field workers. The field school began June 15.
A story about Redford's work, and other developments in Penn State's classics and ancient Mediterranean studies department, appears in the spring/summer 1999 issue of Penn State's Liberal Arts magazine.
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