This file photo shows people working on the Greek excavation project that the two UMSL students will take part in this summer. (Photo courtesy of Michael Cosmopoulos)

A lack of experience turned out to be a boon for two University of Missouri–St. Louis anthropology students.

Seniors Amanda Anderson and Timothy Meyer will take part in a Greek excavation project this summer courtesy of a grant from the National Science Foundation program called “Research Experience for Undergraduates.” The grant is specifically targeted at undergrads who’ve never done archaeological field work. They’ll head to Greece in mid-June, and be there for several weeks.

The site they’ll help excavate is the Pylos-Iklaina Archaeological Project, which is carried out through the Athens Archaeological Society. They’ll work under the direction of Michael Cosmopoulos, the Hellenic Government Karakas Family Endowed Professor of Greek Studies at UMSL and director of the Iklaina Archaeological Project.

“The grant is basically to give fresh people, fresh faces opportunities to participate in the research,” Cosmopoulos said.

Each summer the past 15 years, he has led a team of students, staff and specialists in an excavation in the area of Pylos, Greece, about five hours to the southwest of Athens. The project entails extensive field and lab work, collecting botanical and fauna remains, analyzing artifacts and working with specialists.

“The idea is that they get exposure to all different parts of an archaeological excavation,” Cosmopoulos said.

“It’s very painstaking work from what I’ve heard,” said Meyer, who’s been working overtime to contain his excitement. “The hardest part is keeping focused on my school work this semester because I’m so excited to go in June. I want to shuffle everything to the side and focus on the dig.”

“I’ve been Googling a lot!” said Anderson, describing how she’s preparing for the trip. “I’ve been asking people I know that have been on digs, and I also have been talking to fellow travelers of this summer about what they are bringing.”

The excavation opportunity is a dream come true for Meyer, who’s been interested in archaeology since he was a little kid.

“I’ve always been really fascinated by history and cultural development and societies all over the world and throughout history,” Meyer said. “I’ve just kind of stuck with it and here I am now.”

Anderson said she’s “unbelievably excited” about the excavation project and is still a little shocked it’s actually happening.

“I am incredibly honored to have received this grant from the NSF,” she said. “It is such a great opportunity, and I still can’t believe that I was chosen for it!”

While Meyer has been to Greece before when he was part of the Navy, Anderson has not and is awed at the prospect.

“I took three semesters of Modern Greek and absolutely loved it, I also am receiving the Greek Studies Certificate at graduation, so going to Greece is a dream that I’ve had for a while now! I am thrilled that I am going!”

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez

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