Excavating Greece: Coe students embrace rare opportunity

2018-01-16 07:03:55 - Feature

Group in Greece
Coe students from the 2016 excavation gathered at the Lion Gate, the main entrance of the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae in southern Greece. Pictured (left to right) are Tatiana Smith ’18, Adam Van Grootheest ’16, Assistant Professor of History Angela Ziskowski, Claire Nelson ’17 and Anna Dentlinger ’18.

Hired to start an archeology program in 2012, Assistant Professor of History Angela Ziskowski could not have imagined the opportunities her skills and connections would bring for Coe students.

Many Kohawks have accompanied Ziskowski to Greece for a six-week archaeological excavation in collaboration with an international team of students, archaeologists and specialists. Ziskowski, who was promoted this summer to assistant director of the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project, will lead another team of Kohawks to Greece in 2018. The Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project is an international collaborative archaeological investigation based in Corinthia, Greece. The multiyear project has been established to determine the geographic and chronological extent of the land-based facilities of the primary harbor of the city of Ancient Corinth. The field school provides the opportunity for approximately 30 undergraduates to learn excavation protocols through hands-on training.

"Coe students are getting a very unique opportunity to work on an active excavation," Ziskowski said.

Excavations and geophysical surveys from the first two seasons have revealed many exciting finds, one being the remains of two phases of a large Roman basilica situated one on top of the other. Findings like this will assist in developing a better understanding of local Corinthian history and perhaps establishing when the harbor finally went out of use.

Students receive anthropology course credit for participating in the field school. In addition to learning the methodological principles for archeological fieldwork, students receive an introduction to the history and culture of Greece through visits to major archaeological sites in the region and by living in Ancient Corinth, a traditional Greek village, for six weeks. Students are housed three to four to a room in one of two small hotels in a small village with very few American amenities.

D.J. Stanec '18, a communication studies major and history minor from Colorado Springs, CO, called participation in the excavation "the absolute highlight of my summer."

"It still seems unreal when I realize I was holding pottery that predates Christ," Stanec said. "The connections that Coe faculty are able to provide to students are amazing, and they uncover opportunities for us literally across the world."

For Corbin Grossenbacher '18, a history major who minors in anthropology and classical studies from Pearl City, IL, the excavation experience helped him envision a career path as a college professor.

"It helped me decide this is where I want to go with my life," he said. "Definitely, without Coe, I wouldn't have gone to Greece."


  • Ancient Corinth was located in the north side of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece.
  • It was a major location for trade, naval fleet and took part in various Greek wars
  • It was first inhabited in the Neolithic period (5000-3000 B.C.) and was considered the wealthiest city in the ancient world.
  • Ancient Corinth was formerly known as 'Ephira' and was founded by Sisyphus, who according to Greek mythology became famous for his feat to break the boundaries of human capabilities and win over death.
  • The city also was famous for being the home of the Greek mythology hero Bellerophon, the master of the winged horse Pegasus, who was worshiped like a god by the people.
  • Furthermore, Ancient Corinth was known as the main place of worship of Apollo, the Greek god of music.

Project Director Paul Scotton and Assistant Director Angela Ziskowski working the sieve.
Project Director Paul Scotton and Assistant Director Angela Ziskowski working the sieve.
Leah Shafer ’19 (left) removes a tile in the basilica at the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project.
Leah Shafer ’19 (left) removes a tile in the basilica at the Lechaion Harbor Settlement and Land Project.