Another week of 90 degree weather on a Roman excavation site in Valano – Gioella, Castiglione del Lago, a small town bordering Lake Trasimeno in central Italy. As the sun beats down against the soil, a team of archaeologists including Pedar Foss, Rebecca Schindler, Giampiero Bevagna (Umbra Institute Professor), and Italian native Stefano Spiganti, have taken six weeks out of their summer to teach twelve students what it means to be archaeologists in the 21st century. Both Schindler and Foss traveled from DePauw University located in Greencastle, IN. The two professors earned Ph.Ds in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Michigan and have been on many adventures and excavations, aiming to discover the truth behind the planet’s past inhabitants. Stefano took a different route, choosing to head directly into the field without earning his Ph.D. He has found success and satisfaction in his area of expertise. In a short interview, held five minutes away from the work site, Stefano shares his perspective on archaeology and explains how he got to the position he holds today.

It is necessary for archaeologists to keep an accurate field notebook. In this image Stefano is depicting the trench in front him, so he always knows what progress has been made in previous work days.

Spiganti cradles his Samsung Camera while overlooking the excavation area before snapping pictures of a trench on an early June morning. This is a ritual for the archaeologist. Photographing the worksite is a vital technique necessary for documenting the excavation correctly.
     Stefano grew up in Todi, a town located in central Italy overlooking the Tiber River. The town has a history dating back to the beginning of civilizations in Italy, which explains his fascination with digging into the past — he remembers archaeology being a passion of his since childhood. Spiganti has worked on over twenty worksites throughout his career in Italy, having excavated numerous notable sites including the Domus of Dolia in Vetulonia and Fulgur Conditum, also known under the name “Tomb of the Lamp”, located in Todi. One may wonder how an archaeologist without their Ph.D. is able to find work continuously throughout the year. He explains, “Professors from the University of Perugia have kept me well connected throughout the years, especially Prof. Gian Luca Grassigli. I also met with an American Professor who then arranged another meeting with another Professor, almost like a chain reaction of interactions, leading to where I am now.” Clearly for someone who graduated only six years ago, Spiganti has been able to make quite a name for himself throughout the field as well as maintaining a quality reputation with his peers.

Spiganti uses a chalkboard to write down the name of each trench towards the ending of the work day. After using the the chalkboard and placing it in the trench, he takes photographs as a way of keeping record.
      Archaeology runs in the blood of the Spiganti family. He has two cousins who currently work in the field, but he notes, “they did not push me to become an archaeologist, instead this is something I have always wanted to do, and I decided to go into the field myself.” Stefano has yet to excavate outside of his home country, but has been invited to do so. “Recently I have been invited to excavate in Mexico,” Stefano expressed between bites of a prosciutto and cheese sandwich, “the excavation was held in Cerro De Las Hesas, but I had to politely decline in order to continue working on my current projects in Italy.” In other words, his expertise is appreciated abroad. Later this summer, he will continue to work at Massa Martana with another college, Drew University, located on the outskirts of NJ. He also has three other digs lined up in the meantime throughout Eturia. When asked if he could see himself doing anything else besides archaeology as a career, he laughed and responded “no I cannot, uncovering the truth is a mission, not a job.” 

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Stefano takes a topographic survey of the work site CLG17 on a Monday afternoon. This another important process in archaeology. The equipment has the ability to read the elevations of the excavation site.

A mix of dirt and clay being thrown into buckets. After the material is collected, a sifter looks through the dirt for ancient artifacts.

Stefano working with students in the middle of the afternoon on the Castiglione Del Lago (CLG17) worksite.


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