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Coral in Jordan at dig site

Coral Thayer—Learning Is Cultivating My Passions

Robert and Erin Darby’s ‘Ayn Gharandal archaeological project was a perfect fit for Coral Thayer, a sophomore studying classical archaeology. She had a growing interest in Greek and Roman archaeology and a desire to visit the Middle East. She also needed needed to attend a field school for her major.

“For six weeks we excavated a late Roman military fort and bathhouse,” Thayer says of her work in Jordan this summer. “As a student on my first dig, my role was to excavate in an archaeological trench, process finds, and learn about various archaeological methods.”

The Darbys have been taking students to southern Jordan to assist with surveying and excavation at ‘Ayn Gharandal since 2009. They are investigating the occupational history of the site; mapping and recording its architectural remains using state-of-the-art technology; collecting, analyzing, and publishing the material culture recovered at the site; and preserving and protecting the site and its ruins for future generations.

The work doesn’t end once the summer trips are over.

“A lot of my time in Jordan was spent floating dirt in water in order to find plants and bones and other organic material,” says Thayer. “I’m going to be looking at those remains under a microscope at UT’s Archaeological Research Lab. Also, I plan on supporting the project by being there for a lot of the professors and grad students who will be giving papers on the site at conferences.”

The trip to Jordan taught her about the Roman Empire’s presence in the Middle East, and the cultural interactions seen in the archaeology of military forts and their bathhouses. It also taught her about herself.

“Most of all, I am cultivating my passions and research interests—which, to be honest, are still a bit of a mystery. Going on this dig has definitely made me fall more in love with archaeology!”