The End of an Era

“The end of an era”. That’s what they’re calling it as the Field School’s only student to participate in all four seasons from 2012 to 2015 has for the first time left Vindolanda without a scheduled return date. While twenty five other students have taken the spot light on the blog for the last three years, the Field School Teaching Assistant and Vindolanda Researcher Sarah Taylor has been an integral fixture at the Vindolanda excavations.

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Sarah Taylor (left) and Sarah VanderPloeg (right) leaving Field School in 2012
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Sarah at the beginning of excavations, 2013

Sarah began her archaeological career in 2010, taking part in UWO’s field school at Nysa, Turkey. When she returned to excavations two years after as a participant of the 2012 Vindolanda Field School she was uncertain whether she was cut out for archaeology. As it happened, the climate and archaeology of Northern England suited her much better than the Mediterranean, and she quickly became an outstanding excavator. Since that season she has journeyed across much of Europe and imparted her valuable knowledge and expertise on numerous field school students and volunteer excavators. It is marvelous to have witnessed her develop from a field school student to an experienced archaeological supervisor over the years. Sarah has been one of the greats at Vindolanda, making the excavations more pleasant, exciting, enlightening, and just more fun for everyone involved and her presence will be missed.

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Sarah having the time of her life in the 2013 anaerobic excavations, finds from which would comprise a large aspect of her master’s thesis in 2015.
Myself, an inexperienced archaeologist, in 2013
Myself, an inexperienced archaeologist, in 2013

For my part, I can say that Sarah has been extremely helpful both as a supervisor during my first ever excavation in the 2013 Vindolanda Field School, but also as a predecessor to my role as this season’s teaching assistant. I must, moreover, be grateful for the contributions that many others have made toward my archaeological career and I am grateful for this amazing experience itself. It is hard for me to believe that it was little more than two years ago now that I was embarking on my first journey away from North America. Now I have excavated in three seasons at Vindolanda, and one in Italy, and I have seen so much more of this world than I ever thought was possible for me. From excavating the Etruscan remains of Rome’s beginnings eight meters below street level in the city center of Rome, to excavating Vindolanda’s astoundingly personal organic remains at the edge of the empire, I can feel that I have had an experience of Roman archaeology quite unlike any other. For all this I must be grateful to the personnel who were so inviting and edifying to me, particularly the Vindolanda Trust’s Director of Excavations Andrew Birley, Archaeologist Marta Alberti, and Educational Officer Lauren Wilkinson. Additionally I thank the members of the Sant’Omobono Project in Rome for including me on the team last year, particularly Andrea Brock and Ivano Taranto for their valuable instruction and confidence in me and my friends.

Myself in Pompeii, 2014
Myself in Pompeii, 2014
Myself, fellow field school graduate Andrew Dodd, and Professor Greene taking part in a coring survey project at Sant'Omobono, Rome, 2014.
Myself, fellow field school graduate Andrew Dodd, and Professor Greene taking part in a coring survey project at Sant’Omobono, Rome, 2014.
Andrew Dodd and I as volunteer Vindolanda excavators, August 2014
Andrew Dodd and I as volunteer Vindolanda excavators, August 2014

Of course none of this would have been possible without the generous and charitable support of numerous scholarship donors over the years. To all of you please know that your contribution is vital to the sustainability of global heritage and that you are providing opportunities to young people that have greatly increased their world view and this will benefit them for life.

Myself on my last day in the field, 2015
My last day in the field, July 2015

Lastly I owe the utmost thanks to the Field School Directors Alex Meyer and Beth Greene for their tireless efforts in orchestrating the Field School, and for all of their personal support throughout my career at Western. I truly do not know where my path would have led over the last three summers without them, but I am sure that the path would have been much shorter and far less meaningful.

Finally, thank you, the followers of the blog, for sharing in our passion for Roman archaeology.DSCF4619

One thought on “The End of an Era

  1. You’re welcome, Rob!! This is an amazing post. Know that you too will be sorely missed as a regular component of field school and excavations, unless….. No pressure! 😉

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