Archaeological sites offer a firsthand glimpse into the past. Specifically, working intimately with ancient artifacts allows researchers to piece together historical periods that could otherwise be lost.  Emerson Grant recipient Caroline Morgan ’13 is spending the summer working on- and off-site in Crete with Professor John McEnroe, the John and Anne Fischer Professor in Fine Arts, to uncover a Minoan ruin’s chronological past. Their project is titled “Excavating Minoan Crete: Uncovering Gournia’s Architectural Past.”

Gournia, an archaeological site on the Greek island of Crete, offers a wealth of historical artifacts from the Minoan civilization. Although the area was first excavated over a century ago, researchers have never done a thorough chronological study of Gournia’s buildings. The site is comprised of more than 40 houses and includes cobbled roads and a central public piazza. Originally excavated in 1901 by American archaeologist Harriet Boyd Hawes, the site has since become known as one of the best-preserved examples of a Bronze Age town. After Hawes’s initial excavation, little work was done with Gournia until excavations were restarted in summer 2010.

The goal of Morgan’s project is to reveal the chronological order in which Gournia was built. She is assisting Professor McEnroe in redrawing Gournia’s architectural layout using Electronic Distance-Measuring (EDM) survey equipment. Gournia’s buildings have undergone many modifications, repairs and replacements, making the study of its chronology especially challenging. Morgan hopes that by studying the relationships between structural joints, she and McEnroe can learn more about the order in which Gournia was built.

Off-site, Morgan and McEnroe have access to the nearby Institute of Aegean Prehistory (INSTAP) East Cretan Study Center. The Center provides archaeological research facilities, particularly with regard to Aegean Prehistory. After they have completed their study and compiled their findings, the INSTAP Press will publish the team’s results. 

Morgan, an art history major with a sociology minor, says that she knew little about Gournia prior to learning about this project, but she finds the experience of working hands-on with such an important site to be both exciting and educational. She looks forward to learning more about Bronze Age culture through its architecture.

In her free time, Morgan is a member of the women’s lacrosse team as well as one of Hamilton’s a capella group, Special K. She also enjoys travel, photography and writing.

Gournia’s archaeology has the potential to further archaeologists’ understanding of the Minoan civilization. Morgan’s project allows her the unique opportunity to work hands-on with these ruins to unlock a little of their history.

Caroline Morgan is a graduate of Greenwich High School  (Conn.)


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