The Saint Anselm College Archaeological Excavation Project and Field School at Orvieto, Italy

Dear Readers,

Hello, my name is Joonho Jo, class of 2017 at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. An ardent young classicist and writer, I was inspired to begin a blog with my friend, Bliss Perry ’17. Before diving into information about the excavation, here is a brief introduction about my classics, and non-classics endeavors.

At Exeter, I study the classics, and will read Catullus in the fall as part of the course, Latin 611. In addition, I will be taking Greek 411 in the fall. I fell in love with the classics quite recently, just three years ago. After taking modern languages all my life, the Exeter classics department turned on a switch in my humanities endeavors. Magister Simon Allcock, Magistra Megan Campbell, Magister Matthew Hartnett, Magister Paul Langford, Magistra Sally Morris, and Magister Nick Unger were the reasons why I am so involved and interested in the study of the classics. To them, I say thank you.

Outside of classics, I am an avid writer—both journalistic and creative. I am the managing editor of Sprout Magazine, writing editor of Pendulum, and news editor of The Exonian. Recently, I have begun writing flash fiction (under around 500 words per story) and have grown to really enjoy it. With so few words available, I realized the importance of each word and what it means to the scope of the entire story.

Within the arts, I play the cello, guitar, and sing. Another activity I have started recently was making YouTube covers of pop songs with the instruments I have available. Feel free to check it out at this link:

Now, on to the dig:

My classmate and fellow classicist Bliss Perry and I will be heading to Italy to join “Dig Umrbia’s” Coriglia, Cavita 254, Crocifisso del Tufo excavation in Castel Viscardo, a Comune near Orvieto. For me, this will be my second dig of my young archaeological career. Last summer, I joined a group of eight Exonians in an excavation of a wealthy Gallo-Roman man’s home in Bibracte, France. Here is a link to the daily blog that kept last summer while at the excavation:

This year, unlike last, I will be less accompanied and guided. Now that the training wheels are off, I cannot wait to find out more about the field of archaeology.

Furthermore, while at the dig, I will be learning more about the Etruscan and Roman history. The excavation site, Coriglia, is a site near the town, Castel Viscardo which is around eight miles from Orvieto. According to, the site is believed to be an Etruscan healing shrine which later turned into Roman baths. Moreover, the site contains a Republican wall, and two Roman streets. Like every archaeological excavation, there are still many questions left to be answered such as “What is the purpose of the vault discovered several years ago?”

The Roman layer of the excavation site is dated to around 100 BC to 100 AD, which is focused around the Augustan era—a time period which I am very most interested in.

Thank you for taking the time to read my intro, and I hope that you continue to read and comment on our updates!

Yours Truly,

Joonho Jo ’17


Hello viewers,

My name is Bliss Perry, and I am a classmate of Joonho’s, fellow Orvieto digger, and “co-star,” if you will, of this blog. Born and raised in New York City, I now reside at Peabody Hall at Phillips Exeter Academy during the school year. I’ve studied Latin since the sixth grade and just completed my first year of Ancient Greek; besides those two languages, I speak to varying degrees some bits of pieces of French, Spanish, Italian (which is coming in handy quite a lot right now), German, and Yucatec Mayan, with Hindi next on my list. As you can thus imagine, in addition to classics, I am quite interested in linguistics— indeed, I am a three-year co-head of Exeter’s Linguistics Society and continent-wide semi-finalist in the NACLO (North-American Computational Linguistics Olympiad). At Exeter, besides linguistics, I am also co-head of the Kirtland Society, our Classics organization, and the ESSO Microfinance and ASL for Children clubs. During my summers I make it a goal to travel all around the world and learn different languages and cultures; having studied the basics of Mayan grammar and society last summer in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, I will be living with a host family in Indore, India after the Orvieto project finishes to study Hindi with the NSLI-Y program. For more personal information, please check out my personal website at

Similar to Joonho’s reasons outlined in his introduction, I decided to participate on the “Dig Umbria” field study to consummate my interests in the Classical realm and explore a branch of a discipline previously uncharted in my mind. Archaeology is truly a fundamental part of not only Greco-Roman but indeed all historical research, and therefore it is something I must experience at least once as a budding classicist.

However, another passion of mine has influenced my decision to come to Italy: linguistics. Many of you might be under the impression that, given the site’s location in Italy, Orvieto is a primarily Roman site. Although there are some Roman ruins, the excavation, however, is primarily composed of Etruscan structures. The Etruscans were the “indigenous peoples,” so as to say, of Italy; originally inhabiting the region known then as Etruria (modern-day Tuscany), they spurned a unique material culture and a language written in a unique right-to-left form of the Greek alphabet, unrelated to Latin, and hitherto not deciphered to this days. When Professor George, the leader of the dig, was presenting to us Exonians in November before we submitted our applications, he outlined some of his efforts cataloging and trying to “solve” some of the inscriptions. This sounded intriguing, and, after an email confirming that I would be able to help him out therein, I was hooked.

Please stay tuned for the daily updates!


Bliss Perry ’17


Photo Description: One of our three sites, Coriglia in Castel Viscardo.

Note: Photographs of artifacts are prohibited from being posted online in order to prevent illegal diggers and publishers. We apologize for the unavailability of the photographs.

Exeter’s Feature in Lion’s Eye

Dig Umbria’s Website: [where you can hear our podcasts]