An exciting weekend!
July 23, 2006, 10:25 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday I  had a wonderful day!  I went to the Amalfi coast with Richard and Megan.

Oh wow, the guy at this internet cafe just brought me a coffee!  Yum!

Anyways, first we took a train to Sorrento, and then a bus to Amalfi.  I got really bad motion sickness on the bus, because it’s on all these twists and turns along the mountain and coastline, and  our  busdriver  was a really jerky breaker. I hardly ever get carsick, but I felt like  I was going to die! It’s almost a  2 hr bus ride, and when  we  got there I found myself    a nice piece of pavement to lie  down on and try to recover. It didn’t help much, so we went to get some coffee. I ordered a capuccino  freddo, and I swear the whole  milk they used   was  goat milk.  My friends didn’t really believe me, but they wouldn’t  try it. How could I ever mistake goat milk from anything else? Anyways, I saw lots of  goats  later in the day, so it makes sense.

Sorry about the odd spacing,  this  is kind of a screwy keyboard.

So   the  goat milk cured me, and  we walked from Amalfi to Atrani (simple 15 min.) and from  there to Ravello! I was so excited to get to go   to Ravello! It’s about a 1.5 hr hike  completely  up stairs! We were soaked   all over by the time we made it to the top, but it  was terrific! In Amalfi  we had  a nice lunch and saw the  Cathedral. Ravello is also the host of a huge music festival in the summers.  The concerts are held   in the  old Villa Rufolo. We didn’t want to pay €5 to get in to that  or  Villa  Cimbrono, but they both looked  very lush  from the outside in.

After that we  walked down an hour of steps to get down to the beach at Minori. What a lovely end to the day! We had about an hour of beach/swimming  time, and then  made  our trip back to Sorrento and Pompei. Richard  had a motion sickness medicine that we took on our way back, so that kicked in  and I felt just fine.

On Friday after we took our fieldtrip to the villas of Oplontis and the Mysteries, I went to Castellamare di Stabiae with the intention of seeing the Villas of San Marco and Arianna. I was by myself  for  the first time in a while, and I was  so thrilled to have to use my Italian! I asked some  women  waiting  for the bus about how to get to the villas, and they  told me what they knew and we had a conversation about me digging  in Pompeii  for five weeks, staying in an apartment etc. They loved my blond hair  and petted it,  which actually didn’t seem as  weird at the  time as it sounds. I was having  so much fun by this point that I just decided to stay in the town and do  some  shopping. I looked for Pompei  Chic clothing.  There’s this party we have  at the end of  the dig where we all dress up like  locals. It’s   soo much fun to shop   for  clothing here, because it’s like going to a comedy show  or something. The fashion here is to wear  shirts  that have glittery English writing  on  them,  often nonsensical. So, the goal for  pompei  chic  clothing is to find the most ridiculous outfits possible that still  would be completely fashionable  here in Pompei. Some other things that are funny is that they like to wear one  enormous chandelier earring that dangles down to  their shoulders  on one   side,  but nothing in the other ear, or maybe just a stud or small hoop. Was that ever  fashionable in the 80s or something?

Anyways,  I was supposed to meet my friends up at the top  of MonteFaito, and I didn’t want them to worry, so I took the funicular up to meet them.  They were  working on Harris matrices for  our field  journals. It’s basically just  a  spidery map  of  all the different stratigraphic units we’d  encountered, putting them in order  stratigraphically. I’d already worked on this and turned in my field journal for the week, so I was just visiting them. It turned out they were all really cranky because they’d been working on it for a couple  hours and were getting  frustrated. It was  as though they  were  cramming for final  exams. I kind of felt that the drama and stress  was unnecessarry, so I just  hung out with them for a little  while. They were just planning  on going home to nap afterwards, so I decided I’d go try to hike  around Monte Faito. I went back up to the funicular (funivia in Italiano) and took the path in the other direction.

This walk was lovely, and I think I got an idea of  how the top 2% of Italians live. The  views are gorgeous, and the houses all seem to be based off a plan rivaling the Villa of Poppaea. I travelled along  the road for awhile, which was eerily silent, although that  may only have been because it was siesta time. I found a goat path up to the peak I’d been looking for. At the very top was a  church to St. Michael. I watched some goats and lit a candle in the church (like you recommend, right Mom?).

I met a friend for dinner at Castellamare, and after awhile we found the long line of fresh fish places. Basically, there are just colorful huts lined up with tables. We sat down at one that looked like all the rest, just on the water with a  view of all the boats. There were four options  for   dinner, 2 seafood  salads and 2 seafood pasta dishes. There were no menus,  and the  water came in disposable  cups. I had a wonderful spaghetti and clams dish in honor of Andrew’s birthday.

Later today I’ll probably go back to Castellamare to see the Villas of Arianna and San Marco. I also need to prepare for a wonderful week of digging! The work here has been  so satisfying. We  have found many full amphorae. I’m hoping I have the opportunity to help  Emily some with her research on the faunal analysis from the site this coming year! I’m sure she’ll let me help her, and I know where she lives 🙂

 I miss everyone! I hope your summers are going well!

Hi Mom, Dad, and Jay! I can’t wait to see you!  I know that going to Aspen will take me away from youse guys for a couple extra days, but I can’t wait to hang out with ya’ll. Say hi to Juniper and my cello for me!



July 18, 2006, 4:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


I’ve just finished another long day of digging. Today I mostly moved lots of dirt, because I was working on two areas, both of which were recently added to our extent-of-trench.

I still have a ton to catch up with. For one thing: the World Cup! I am so glad I was here for that! We went to Pompeii Life for the game. Unfortunately, it was an hour later than all the other games had been, but I didn’t know that, so I hardly made it before the half-time break. Luckily, the most exciting part was at the very end with the kicks. As with the other winning games, Pompei went crazy when the game was won! We waited 10-15 mins after the game was over in order to avoid getting hit by fireworks. Even then, we had to make sure to keep an eye out for sparks on the ground or follow people if they were running away from a particular spot where they probably set one up.

We came out to the piazza, where they’d set up a loudspeaker to play songs like “Napoli, Napoli, Napoli!” and “We are the Champions”. Emily, Meg, and I went into the crowd in order to dance. Eventually I had to leave because the young (like 14-15 yr. old) local boys were getting too friendly! It was an exciting evening.

Another thing about Pompei is that they use fireworks EVERY night. I just heard a huge explosion, and it hardly even phased me. They get started about dinner time and continue late into the night. In my apartment on the fourth floor of our building, you can sit at the dining room table and see out of three windows in three different directions. From there you’re almost guaranteed to see some fireworks in some small area around in one of the windows. How bizarre! Also, none of us have actually seen stores that sell fireworks, so were not sure where they come from. It’s kind of like Italian driving: everyone’s craazy, but you never see an accident. Hmm.

 Okay, more next time!


Catching Up
July 16, 2006, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hi everyone!

I had a big list of things to write about on my blog when I got a chance, but now I don’t have it with me. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything substantial! I guess I’ll start with the most recent, because I’ll probably be able to capture that better.

 Yesterday I went to Sorrento! It was lovely! It’s incredibly touristy, and that was okay with me, because it meant the city was clean and I got to hang out on docks by the sea.

Oh, this reminds me… Mom was saying she hopes I have pictures with my new red Italian bikini at the beach at Agropoli I visited last weekend. Fortunately, I have a couple, but not from my camera! That’s because my camera isn’t working!!! All it will do if I try to turn it on is say “Lens Error”. So Alice, my good friend who just graduated from Royal Holloway college at the University of London, took a picture or two for me. I even tried to buy a box camera, but it doesn’t wind. I should probably return it to the MiniMarket where I got it.

Anyways, Sorrento is great. First we went to an English Pub! I had a Longbow Cider and grilled cheese. Everyone else got cheeseburgers. It was so funny, because it was exactly what everyone wanted after a couple weeks abroad. Then we went to the cliffs. You walk down to the water and then pay absurd amounts of money for a chair and umbrella on the docks. You get to go swimming from there, and they have showers to wash off. There were floaty chairs in the water so we could sunbathe there, too. I did a pretty good job of monitoring the sun a got except for the area of my chest. We stayed there until about 5, and then we walked around town. I picked up some gifts and postcards. This time we went to the Irish pub, where I got some more cider :):). My friends and I went to Sorrento with Sid, who is our surveyor. He likes to drink beer, and he knows where the good places to eat are. We went to dinner at this wonderful restaurant called Il Gardinieri, where I had an amazing aubergine goat cheese pie and fresh ravioli that knocked my socks off. All this was accompanied by wine and good cheer from all. I guess it’s becoming apparent that regular drinking adorns this story. For dessert we visited the best local gelaterie, before catching a 9:45 p.m. train home.

It was a long day! But not long enough :)! I was ready to go discoteque-ing! Last weekend Alice and I visited a discoteque just near the house. We were just doing some reconnaisance by peaking in and seeing what things looked like. It was early, only 10:30, so we figured the party probably started later, but there were four men drinking around a table. The place itself looked pretty cool. They played loud hip hop music. It was an outdoor venue with palm trees, blue lights, reflecting pools, and a dance platform. So, anyways, I was determined that we go out! I told Kevin, one of the supervisors, that I wanted to go. Kevin is a big partier, he’s really fun and nice. So he said he’d do it. Even though everyone seemed pretty tired, I convinced about 8 other people to come with us! We all got our dance pants on and got ready to go have a blast. Once we got there, however, we found out that the venue is only for private parties! They were willing to let us go look around, but apparently they never actually open it up as a discoteque, even though that’s what their sign says. We decided we try to look for something else by walking down the main road to town. What I didn’t tell anyone is that I’d already asked the locals if there was any other place we could go to, and they said Salerno! I figured I’d just go along with the gang, though.

At this point, some of our gang had already gotten “sloshed”. Our one Scottish fieldschool student (Laura) was one of these people. I actually found this to be terrific, because she’s really quiet and we’d never really talked before. At the beginning of the night, however, she found out I was a cellist. She is too! She told me how she really wanted to be a cellist. Apparently she had passed Grade 8 in the British music system for cello, but because she didn’t play piano up to Grade 7 level, she couldn’t go into music school. For those grades they also have to know music theory, tons of scales, cadences, etc. Can you imagine? Quantifying music? And besides that, they know before conservatory what any kid would expect to just start learning in music school in the U.S. Anyways, it turns out Laura really loves music and has a fantastic memory, so she could sing any piece she’d played in the past. She had performed in a group with Steven Isserlis, etc. Well, apparently when Laura is drunk, she really likes to sing and be loud, so She and I were belting out Faure’s Elegy, among other Classical and popular songs, as we walked down the street to town. She also taught me some Gaelic. Awesome!

Anyways, on our walk down the street, we met the bar lady from Pompeii Life. She lives by us. We stopped her and asked her if there was anywhere we could find some kind of party. She basically said no, but gave us a recommendation. She said if we want a real disco, we should go to La Dolce Vita in Salerno. After that we went to this caffe/bar called Izzo’s that’s on the Cathedral’s piazza. One funny thing is that we saw a poster advertising that very same dance club the lady had mentioned. It was about an event that night and featured a topless woman as the main attraction. I guess here they do discos big or not at all.

I really like Izzo now. I decided I didn’t really want anything to drink, just a cappucino, but my friends convinced me to ask them to put a little Kahlua in it. The barista said I wanted it cold and proceded to make an amazing drink. He made sure I knew it was especially for me. He took an enormous glass and filled it 2/3 with whole milk. Then he carefully poored the Kahlua over a spoon so it would gracefully sink into the milk. Then he put frothed espresso on top and sprinked cinnamon and cocoa on top. The whole thing cost me less than basically anything else they were serving. What a deal. The other nice thing about this place is that all the bartenders are fairly goodlooking. Meg said she hadn’t seen a single really attractive Italian male since arriving in Italy, so I was keeping a lookout for her. We realized at this point that, logically enough, we should’ve been looking for the ones working, not the ones lazing about in the piazza.

Next we walked down to another bar, the Empire. That, in contrast, had terrible service. Anyways, we got more drinks before heading back.

Kevin managed to attract all of Pompeii’s biggest homeless dogs to our side. It was kind of scary, really, but I guess they really like him. There are so many stray dogs! Just this morning I saw two doggies in a box on the corner. It’s so sad, but I don’t know what I could do to make a difference. I certainly don’t coo at the dogs or look at them at all, I just pretend they’re not there.

This morning I couldn’t sleep in, so I made breakfast, looked over a Popper Etude, and tried to decide what to do today. I looked into going to Castellamare or Salerno, but I decided it was finally time for me to take a day of rest. On Friday, I was in Naples, going to the National Museum, visiting the Bay, visiting the Duomo, and getting an underground tour. Now I’m pooped out. I got a nice ice cream bar, and I’ll probably have a pizza for a late lunch. Yummy.

I guess that’s all for now. I have a lot to catch up on, though! I’ll get back on sometime later this week.

 I miss ya’ll! Happy summer!

 Andrew told me it’s been 100 degrees + in St. Paul. Use sunscreen and stay hydrated! Also, let me know if there’s anything you want me to get for you from Italy.



Oops, no time
July 13, 2006, 6:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I spent all my time working on the e-mail interview responses. I thought I’d paste them up here anyways, just in case you’re interested. My one message is: sunscreen lotion here really does work better! Okay, here goes:

 > Age: 19
> Hometown: St. Paul, MN
> Years on U-M campus so far: 2 (starting 3rd)
> Degrees: BA in Anthropology and Classical Archaeology, BM in Cello
> Performance
> Field of Study: Will be junior majoring in above listed majors
> (anthropology, classical archaeology, cello performance)
> Career goal: Mayan archaeology/epigraphy and public outreach (for
> example, I’d like to be a museum curator)
> Ann Arbor hangout where I can frequently be found: Bubble Island
> Musician with the most songs on my iPod: Msistlav Rostropovich or
> Jacqueline DuPre (legendary cellists)
> Noteworthy: (optional)I plan to start an archaeology club this year that promotes interdisciplinary cohesion in this field. I am an organizer for the Women Composers’ Concerts held at the School of Music each semester. I live in Telluride House. I will be a Dance Captain for Dance Marathon this year. I tutor students in writing at the Family Learning Institute. I teach cello lessons to younger students. I work as a tour guide at the UofM Museum of Natural History.

1/2) I first became interested in the University of Michigan through the reputation of the School of Music. After coming to the university to have a lesson with cello professor Anthony Elliott, I was impressed by the amount of freedom and support available to me in my pursuit of dual degrees at this institution. I also knew that the UM anthropology department is recognized as one of the best in the country. When I was choosing schools, I knew that I wanted to study the Ancient Maya, but I also wanted a chance to learn the larger disciplines of anthropology and archaeology.
My main attraction to the UofM was the strength of these programs, but I also was looking for a large school where I could find a wide range of personalities, perspectives, and opportunities. Additionally, every UofM alumn I spoke to said they absolutely loved their time at the school.

3)My parents both have MAs in flute performance, and my mom is a professional flute teacher. She and my dad play in a trio with cello for weddings and other events. As a child, I fell asleep to a recording of this ensemble. My favorite song on this album was Pachelbel’s Canon because of the beautifully earthy baseline in the cello. Now, this seems funny, because that piece is every cellist’s nightmare, for it’s a repeated sequence of eight notes over the course of the ten minute composition.
Although the cello kajor requires classes in musicology and music theory, the vast majority of a performance major’s time is spent in the practice room. My teacher recommends that his studens planning to pursue an orchestral career practice six hours daily, two of which should be spent on technique, including scales. Unfortunately, I am only usually able to devote about 2 hours daily to praciticing, which often leaves me frustrated at what I can accomplish. The most important thing for me when I’m feeling this is to remember how much I enjoy playing the instrument, even though it’s not my chosen career path.

In ninth grade, I decided to create my History Day competition display board on the Ancient Maya. I had always been fascinated by the exotic vision of fallen temples being consumed by rainforest, and I loved the look of Ancient Latin American art. During that project, I fell in love with the cultural traditions, religious expressions, and hieroglyphs of the Maya. I especially became interested in reading the glyphs. Mayan hieroglyphs are the only complete written form of a language preserved from the ancient Americas. I was excited to study a language deciphered so recently (mid 1990s).
This is a more difficult interest to pursue, because there is only a handful of people in the world who can claim relative fluency in reading the ancient writing. There are two beginner books on the market, so I worked through those. I contacted David Stuart, of UT-Austin, to ask for further direction, and he suggested I start looking for patterns and trends within actual texts. For an application to the Telluride House, wher I live, I wrote a poem in Mayan hieroglyphs and provided a decipherment and grammatical explanation. It was a good way to practice what I knew, even though the ancient Maya never would have written poetry in a form like I did.
At the UofM, I’ve taken a semester of Ind. Study with Prof. Joyce Marcus, a renowned Maya scholar. She is an epigrapher herself, and she told me that it’s crucial that I get a solid grasp on the civilization in its many facets. I created a bibliography of recent articles I read in the interdisciplinary study of the Maya. Because I’ve also expressed an interest in the Classics and Ancient Greek, she recommended that I work to translate the Rosetta stone, working first with the Greek before trying my hand at the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

My first exposure to the Classics was in my first semester Great Books class at the UofM, taught by the illustrious Professor H.D. Cameron. My GSI, Nels Christensen, now a professor of English at Albion College, taught us to think outside the box with a multitude of unusual activities connecting the literature that we were reading with other historical and modern ideas and philosophical thought. I truly feel that the Classics are an outlet, like so many things, to a deeper understanding of what it means to be human. I decided to combine this interest with the archaeology I’d already been doing, expanding my outlook into this diverse field and it’s approaches. In fact, one of the things I love particularly about Maya studies is the degree to which different areas of research are integrated in analysis.

4) In addition to those mentioned earlier, Professor Tanya Remenikova, cello teacher at the University of Minnesota, and my own lesson teacher for a year, profoundly impacted how I am able to approach my studies. She was incredibly honest with me about how I was playing in any given moment. She made me be honest with myself about how I was playing, and I couldn’t feel offended because I knew all along that what she was telling me was true. She exposed to me that often I would let myself get away with less than I could, and from there I had the inspiration, under her guidance, to figure out exactly what I needed to do next to face the challenges I had identified.

Professor Steven Ellis in Classics at the UofM also helped me work through the writing of my first longer research paper and encouraged me afterwards to write an abstract to submit to an undergraduate conference. He is one of the directors of the dig I am at in Pompeii this summer.

5) Beyond preparing for grad school, I want to learn how to learn and pursue my own research. Once I am comfortable with my ability to generate and present knowledge, I know I will be set for the rest of my studies and newly discovered passions. The second important thing is that I learn how to bring my interests out into the world. For example, how can I incorporate my love for kids with my academic interests? One way I’ve done this so far is to lead dinosaur and native people tours at the UofM Natural History Museum.

b. I am digging with a group of 20 field school students and 10 supervisors/specialists in archaeology. We are digging just inside what in ancient times was a main entrance through the walls of the city, just near the entertainment district. Our goals are to find chronology, function, and relationship to the rest of the site for this area. We are learning to excavate, plan, and analyze the site. We get to work with specialists in ceramics, the environment, and mapping systems.

6) I hope to work as either a professor or a museum curator in addition to being a researcher. I am thrilled by the prospect of working in a museum. I am inspired by the amount of information museums provide to the public, and especially to kids like me who have always been fascinated in ancient things. I plan to live a life filled with service, because I always wish to further my contact with people in all situations.

7) In the past year, I’ve traveled to Greece, Italy, and the University of Alberta. I got to visit Greece with two Classical Archaeology professors to get the insider’s tour to a variety of sites accessible from Athens. I didn’t dig at all, like I am at Pompeii. I got to present a paper on dwarves and pygmies in Roman wall paintings at the University of Alberta.

I’m sorry, I’ve run out of time. I can answer 8) sometime tomorrow.

Thanks so much! Let me know if you have any questions.

> 1. How did you get to U-M?
> 2. Why did you come to U-M?
> 3. Who do you study what you study? What exactly is it that captures
> your interest?  How did you develop your intterest in music and in
> arch.?
> 4. Tell us about your mentors at U-M or elsewhere and how they have
> influenced you.
> 5. What do you hope to accomplish at U-M?
> 5. B. What are you doing in Pompei?
> 6. What do you hope to accomplish in life?
> 7 . What special trips have you taken as an undgrade, including this
> one?
> 8. what have these trips taught you, or what is the highlight of this
> particular experience?
> Hope to hear from you soon,
> Geoff Larcom

Back to Posting!
July 12, 2006, 5:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello to all! I’ve decided to stop spending so much time reading and responding to individual e-mails so that I can make sure everyone gets a chance to hear about what I’m doing. Unfortunately I just went to respond to a deadlined e-mail and found a few other important ones about committees I’m on and an interview for the Ann Arbor news. One of the questions for said interview is: “6) What do you hope to accomplish in life?” I thought, “Sheesh, I’d better go home and think about this for a little while.” Apparently they’re really using the list of references I gave them, too. I feel kind of bad about that, because I forgot to e-mail these people and ask/tell them that I was giving their names away so that they could talk about me to the press. Then I find out that they’ve already talked to Joyce Marcus <gasp> and e-mailed Emily Holt! The guy from the Press said his talk to Professor Marcus was “very interesting.” Hmm.

 So, about project life: I realized today that I don’t have a lot of close friends on the dig yet. I told Emily that this was the weak part of the experience for me, and she expressed that she’d hoped we’d spend more time together on this dig, and that was partly why she was excited about it. So she’s going to come meet me here (restaurant/bar/internet cafe) for drinks in a little while. She was just buying a cell phone she can use internationally with some kind of card. Quite a few people on the dig have them, but since it’s quite a bit cheaper (even in the long run, and for both parties involved in the call) to call the U.S. via phone card, I figure I’ll keep doing that. I also have no idea where I’ll be next summer, and if it’s Arizona, then that’s substantial overkill.

In addition, I thought I’d elaborate on workday stuff. It turns out we live the good life! On Monday-Thursday we work from 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. On 3 of 5 Fridays we have field trips, which are in the morning with the afternoons free. That’s a 4 day workday.

All right, Emily’s here, much more next time!

July 4, 2006, 6:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve begun work! I have to make this really quick, but I’m having a great time and working hard. This dig is better than past digs because they really encourage us to think about what we’re doing, and I think I’m working in an area that’s really important to the decipherment of the entire block we’re working on. My living conditions are great, too, despite my compromised communication-home abilities.


In Pompei!
July 1, 2006, 6:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


 I have to make this quick, because now having checked my e-mail my hour is almost up, and it cost €5/hr. I’m not sure why it’s so expensive, it’s the internet place that everyone recommended to me. I guess I’ll have to shop around anyways.

I’m in Pompei and it’s great! We have beautiful accomodations about a 20 min walk up the main road from the main plaza and Cathedral area. We’re right next to a cute little market that I visited with my roommates. We bought yoghurt and fruit and Lorraine stabbed at a few conversations that went something like: “Scaviamo a Pompeii vicino del teatro per cinque settimane” and then lots of giggling and nodding.

Our apartments seem like quite a splurge! We have the whole shiningly clean building with beautifully white walls and ceilings. We have two rooms in our suite, one with three girls, the other with two boys. We have a huge living space with a bathroom, dining room table, couch, full kitchen, and porch with a view of the mountains. It could be worse!

So it’s been a long time it seems from my last post.

I went to Ostia with Richard yesterday. It was great, he bought a map and we explored all around. We got there at 9:30, took a lunch break at noon, looked around more till about 2:30, saw the museum and left. I was really surprised by the degree of preservation! There were lots of mosaic and stone floors, which were beautiful. I figured out that if I were an ancient Roman in Pompeii, I’d want to be a seafarer, because they seemed to have the nicest quarters (or perhaps just the nicest reconstruction!).

Once we left I arranged to meet up with Richard for dinner, but we were planning to meet at a subway stop that was temporarily out-of-order, so we never found each other. It was all for the better, because Megan and Amanda from the dig had met up with Amanda, and we had a girl’s night out at a restaurant in Trastevere, and I finally got my gnocchi! Not alla Romagna I’m afraid, which would’ve been better (butter and cheese), but instead with tomato sauce.

Anyways, we came to Pompeii today. I should publish this post before my time runs out. I get a tour of the site of Pompeii tomorrow. Yay!!!