IMA will support a third dig this summer near Allerona, Italy, on a 13th-century Christian church built atop a Roman structure. Archaeologists think that underneath the Roman infrastructure may be some sort of Etruscan formations since the Etruscan people predate the Romans.
“The most fulfilling thing is opening up these opportunities for students from Oklahoma to participate,” said Leonard, an attorney from Beaver. “This is such a unique thing that if you're into history, this is really a once in a lifetime opportunity. It's something they will never forget.”
The digs usually last for about six weeks, but students can spend less time, if necessary. Leonard, 41, said students will benefit greatly from studying abroad and learning in the hands-on experience that the excavations provide.
“Spending time in a foreign country broadens your perspective,” said Leonard, who experienced his first archaeological dig in Russia during his high school years. “It opens your eyes that there is a very wide world out there. To combine the study abroad with the neat experience of digging through dirt that hasn't been touched in over 2,000 years and walking where the Romans walked is all very fascinating.”
Students can seek out opportunities to get involved with IMA by visiting www.digumbria.com. The vision for IMA is to become a leader in establishing new archaeological excavations throughout the Mediterranean and to create a partnership with more universities in Oklahoma, Leonard said.
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We want to expose young people and Oklahomans in general to opportunities in Italy to excavate and to explore. That's what's so great about archaeology. Every morning when you wake up, you don't know what you're going to find, and it keeps you motivated and captivated knowing what might be there underneath.”