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Unearthing Greek Civilization at the Griffin Warrior Grave


Jessica Williams '18, left, and Anne Feltovich, assistant classics professor, in Greece.
Jessica Williams '18, left, and Anne Feltovich, assistant classics professor, in Greece.

Jessica Williams ’18, a classics major with an anthropology minor, is convinced she has the greatest advisor at Hamilton. That’s Anne Feltovich, assistant professor of classics, who invited Williams to come along this summer to work at a major archaeological site — the Griffin Warrior grave in Pylos, Greece.

Williams was in, and found herself immersed in astounding history through an Emerson grant from Hamilton.

She spent weeks in the field, digging with professional archaeologists as they searched for a greater understanding about the world of the Griffin Warrior, who lived at the beginning of Mycenaean civilization. The discovery and excavation of his rich and unlooted tomb in 2015 generated coverage in National Geographic and The New York Times, whose story declared, “Grave of ‘Griffin Warrior’ at Pylos Could Be a Gateway to Civilizations.”

about Jessica Williams '18

Major: Classics

Minor: Anthropology

Hometown: Harvard, Mass.

High School: The Bromfield School

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Here’s a description from the warrior project website: “Centuries before the destruction of the Mycenaean palaces, a warrior died and was buried alone near the site of the later ‘Palace of Nestor at Pylos.’ His burial was accompanied by one of the most magnificent displays of wealth discovered in Greece in recent decades.”

“I never expected to be included on an archaeological dig without prior experience to begin with, let alone one in Greece handling artifacts from the Bronze Age,” Williams said during her first days on the dig. “It has been almost surreal, and I still cannot totally believe I'm surrounded by so much important history.”

The fieldwork dovetailed with Williams’ major and minor. As a classics student she’s interested in the history of ancient Greece, and as an anthro minor she’s analyzed societal systems. Until the research is published, Williams is restricted in what she can discuss about the work done at the site.

“The most memorable parts of this experience — that I can share — are by far the people.  I've been able to meet some of the best and brightest, and most cutting edge, archaeologists and specialists, and work with them.  It's truly been life-changing and unbelievably educational,” she says. 

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