From Montpelier to Athens

Shane McGary

Dr. Shane McGary
Assistant Professor of Geology and Environmental Science

Anastasia Dakouri-Hild

Dr. Anastasia Dakouri-Hild
Associate Professor of cultural history of Aegean and Near Eastern art and architecture

In 2018, Assistant Professor of Geology & Environmental Science Shane McGary received a 4-VA grant for a project called “Advanced geospatial techniques in archaeological teaching and research” in collaboration with UVA. In the spring of 2020, McGary taught a shared field geophysics course with UVA, which included non-invasive archaeological work at James Madison’s Montpelier to give them a better sense of the targets for geophysics. Once they know the targets, the archaeology team plans to travel to Greece where UVA has a partnership with the University of Athens for excavations at Kotroni (the likely site of ancient Aphidna) for a multi-year archaeological reconnaissance survey. Before they go to Greece, the team needs to determine which methods are most applicable in Greek soil. For example, if they decided to use some combination of ground-penetrating radar and magnetics, the original plan was to aim for a trip during the summer of 2020, and if resistivity looked to be an important part of the package, they had planned to go in the fall because ground moisture would have a significant impact on results.

However, because of travel and social distancing restrictions following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has delayed the trip to Greece until it’s safe to travel.

When that time comes, they will work with a team of archaeologists in Greece using the data from JMU to inform the excavation, which will help them maximize results while minimizing impact on the site.

The lead student is Emily Marsch, a sophomore geology major with archaeology and geophysics minors, who will be using the project as her honors research project, and two other students selected from the course will join McGary and Marsch on the trip.