Monday, June 15, 2009

Pyla Koutsopetria Archaeological Project

Call it a new season of "reality history." UND prof and historian William "Bill" Caraher and a team of students are in Cyprus to help kick off the 2009 season of the international Pyla Koutsopetria Archaeological Project (PKAP).

The goal of the project: find out how folks lived, worked, and interacted in the glory days of the Roman Empire and maybe learn a thing or two in general about how societies live, play, and do business. The project also helps students learn how to do applied research in a traditional liberal arts field such as history and how to apply high tech methods in their work.

The PKAP project began its 2009 fieldwork recently outside of Larnaka, Cyprus. The project-a collaboration between the Caraher, who teaches in the UND Department of History, and scholars from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Messiah College (Pa)-involves undergraduates and graduate students from these institutions and numerous others in the U.S. and Europe.

"It's really exciting to be involved in this hands-on project with students," said Caraher, who's the research teams's de facto "techie," handling a lot of the global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) applications used as a critical part of the team's fieldwork . "We use these systems intensively to ensure that we leave no area uncharted and to document the location of artifacts."

This season, the PKAP team will excavate sites on the south coast of Cyprus dating as far back as 1200 BC all the way to 650AD. The researchers and students hope to gather more evidence about the economic, political, and cultural relationships among Mediterranean communities that formed that backbone of the great Roman Empire.

PKAP takes full advantage of new and emerging media tools, Caraher said. In collaboration with UND's Working Group in Digital and New Media, PKAP will produce a digital documentary. PKAP also is hosting photographer Ryan Stander, a UND Masters in Fine Arts student, as the team's annual artist-in-residence. The team also will also document its fieldwork with a series of frequently updated Weblogs.

"As one of the first Mediterranean archaeological projects to blog from the field, it has drawn thousands of readers from around the world have read this unique perspective on the inner workings of Mediterranean archaeology," Caraher said.

For more information, visit , or follow the team in Cyprus on his blog at