The following is from the Aug. 12, 2007, edition of The Dallas Morning News.

SMU school digs up Etruscan secrets

The Dallas Morning News

Ancient Greeks and Romans, great believers in fate, might welcome Dr. Gregory Warden as one of their own.

Certainly he had no idea when he left his childhood home near Poggio Colla, Italy, at the age of 10 that he would someday return to lead the excavation of a long-buried Etruscan settlement about 20 miles northeast of Florence.

The site dates from the 7th to 2nd century B.C., when the Romans destroyed the settlement but left undisturbed habitation layers that span much of Etruscan history.

Poggio Colla was first excavated from 1968 to 1972. It was then left untouched until 1995.

By then, Dr. Warden was ready to tackle the challenge.

Since that year, this classical archaeologist at Southern Methodist University has conducted an SMU field school in archaeology every summer.

Dr. Warden, who's also a professor of art history and associate dean at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts, was born in Florence, the son of an Italian mother and a father who was half-English and half-American.

"My father volunteered for the American Field Service in 1940, when he was 18, serving as an ambulance driver [as Ernest Hemingway did at about the same age in Italy in World War I].

"His AFS group served in World War II with the British 8th Army in North Africa and then in Italy, where he met my mother."

Dr. Warden earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and a master's and a doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. He joined the art history faculty in SMU's Meadows School in 1982.

"I planned a field school from the very beginning. The field school combines my two passions, education and archaeology. I got involved in archaeology when there were no field schools.

"I was lucky enough to talk my way onto an excavation when I was a sophomore in college, and I never looked back. I really believe that college undergraduates are capable of participating in top-notch research projects.

"A properly designed field school is a way for students to learn at the highest level, through a kind of experiential learning that is quite different from what goes on in a traditional classroom," Dr. Warden said.

"I also believe in international education. The more our students experience cultural diversity, the better they will function in increasingly complex environments."

From the beginning, SMU envisioned a collaborative project in Italy.

"At the start, we worked with Oberlin and the University of Pennsylvania. Now it's Franklin and Marshall and the University of Pennsylvania, and we will probably involve some other universities in the near future. The program has grown bigger and more methodologically sophisticated," Dr. Warden said.

"We now include geophysics, geology, chemistry, paleobotany and a variety of scientific methods. We also educate students in archaeological ethics and cultural heritage."

Read the full story.

Learn more about the project at Poggio Colla, Italy.

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