The Collegian
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Classics students present research on summer visit to Italy

Two sophomores from the Classics Club presented on Friday about their 10-day summer research trip to the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, Italy.

Erika Damer, classical studies professor, partnered with two other professors from Washington and Lee University and Millsaps College to create the summer research opportunity for students. After securing grants, they opened the program to applicants.

In the end, a group of 30 undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty members went on the trip, but Kathryn Clikeman and Gia Nyhuis were the only two students from University of Richmond.

According to Damer, Herculaneum was the best location for the students of Roman Studies to do research.

During their time in Herculaneum, Clikeman and Nyhuis conducted first-hand research about ancient Roman graffiti. Their goal was to find graffiti that had already been recorded and make sure it was still there. Each day they took the measurements and photographs of the graffiti they found in the city. Most of the graffiti they found was pictorial.

After each day of research, the students returned to their hotel and entered their data into spreadsheets. They also entered their findings into a software called Epigraphic Database Roma. Their findings will be published to a website where all academics can view their research, Clikeman said.

"They said they worked from 9 to 3 every day. However, I think it was really more like from 8 to 9 every day," Damer said.

After the 10-day trip, Clikeman and Nyhuis traveled together to Rome for three days. They visited the Colosseum, and even saw the Pope from afar at the Vatican. Nyhuis said she was also finally able to claim her luggage, which had gotten lost on the way to Italy.

Clikeman and Nyhuis are currently working with students from Washington and Lee University and Millsaps College who also went on the trip. With the help of professors, they are entering the pictorial graffiti they found into a database and organizing the drawings by tags so that it will be more easily accessible to scholars and others who want to view it.

"None of this would have been possible without the Weinstein Summer Grant," Clikeman said. The grant provides an opportunity for students to receive funding to conduct projects overseas during summer.

Damer said the university planned to host another trip to Italy for students in summer 2016.

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