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Our first blog entry is written by Dr. Spencer Pope, Associate Professor and Graduate Advisor in the Department of Classics, Faculty of Humanities at McMaster University.

Dr. Pope is a classical archaeologist specializing in the ancient Greek world. His research interests include Greek colonization and the interactions between Greeks and other populations of the Mediterranean. Dr. Pope has excavated at numerous sites in Sicily and is presently examining patterns of urban planning on the island in the archaic and classical periods


Planning an excavation of Metaponto, Italy | Spencer Pope, Ph.D

The Department of Classics at McMaster University began the Metaponto Archaeological Project in 2017 with the aim of reconstructing ancient patterns of life in the countryside of an ancient Greek city. Metaponto, located on the Ionian Coast of Italy in modern Basilicata, was founded by Greek settlers near the end of the seventh century BC.

Territory of Metaponto seen at dawn.
Territory of Metaponto seen at dawn, October 2018 trip.

The new city soon came to occupy near 400 kmwith a network of villages, farmsteads, and rural sanctuaries. The occupation of the countryside when to far as to include a system of irrigation canals to maximize water resources.

In October 2018, I made a trip to the area to oversee the next steps in the project. We selected an area for excavation and planned a geophysical survey and remote sensing at the site.

Geophysical survey, Metaponto Italy
Geophysical survey, October 2018 trip.

My week began with clearing brush and weeds from the site with the assistance of two workmen; once cleared, it was ready for the magnetometry survey.

A team from the University of Siena performed the work and created a plan indicating abnormal densities that might correspond to archaeological deposits. The map gives us a plan of where to start excavations.

Remote sensing with drone, Metaponto Italy
Remote sensing with drone, October 2018 trip.

The following day, a team of technicians carried out remote sensing to create a detailed map of the surface. Their drone took a series of aerial photographs of the site that will be stitched together to create a highly detailed geo-referenced plan of the site.

A team of Classics graduate and undergraduate students will undertake the work this summer. While we uncover buried artifacts, record them using GIS technology and use remote sensing tools such as drones, I like to remember that this is what Humanities looks like at McMaster.

-Spencer Pope, Ph.D | 

Join us for a special guest lecture by Prof. Paola Carafa visiting McMaster University from the University of Rome (La Sapienza) on November 1st, 2018 – for information and tickets: 

For more information on the Metaponto, Italy site and programs offered by the Department of Classics at McMaster University: