NU hosts visiting scholars from down under
Dr. Tom Hillard and Dr. Lea Beness, Senior Scholars in the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, spent the better part of April at Norwich University participating in a multi-disciplinary residency.
The two were brought to Norwich on a proposal initiated by Assistant Professor Richard K. Dunn of the geology department.
"I proposed to bring them to Norwich University as part of the new Visiting Scholar program, and the Divisions of Math/Science and Social Sciences agreed to co-sponsor them," said Dunn. "They were Geology-History Visiting Scholars from April 6 to April 23."
During the two-and-a-half week residency, the visiting scholars delivered lectures, participated in a seminar, and met informally with students and faculty to discuss opportunities for study abroad in Australia.
On April 20, Dr. Hillard presented a lecture on the environmental impact of the construction of the ancient harbor at Caesarea Maritima, a famous port city of Herod the Great on the coast of Israel. Underwater archaeological excavation provides the primary information for the history of harbor construction and the subsequent impact on the coastal environments.
On April 21, 4:15, Drs. Hillard and Beness presented a lecture on the history, archaeology, and geology of Torone, a Hellenistic to Roman port in the northern Aegean. At Torone, underwater archaeological survey and geological study of coastal evolution have illuminated the degree of landscape change over the last 2500 years, and reveal the potential site of the famous, but thus far un-located, Toronian harbor.
In addition, Drs. Hillard and Beness participated in a two-hour seminar in GL/ES 451 (Senior Seminar in Geology and Environmental Science).
"In the seminar we discussed the history of, and evidence for, the scientific hypothesis that a natural but dramatic flooding of the Black Sea is the possible origin of the Great Flood Myth," Dunn said.
In addition to their course-related activities, Drs. Hillard and Beness were at Norwich to complete a manuscript, co-authored by Professor Dunn, on their recent geological and archaeological study of the ancient Greek harbor city known as Torone.
According to Dunn, although this site was famous in antiquity for having an excellent anchorage, its location has never been discovered in modern times, despite extensive excavation. Their paper puts forth one theory that would explain this mystery.
"Through geological coring in a floodplain near the city, we discovered an area that would have been a marine embayment in the Classic Period (500 B.C.), and we propose that this is the area of the ancient harbor," said Dunn. "This area has since filled with sand and mud, via coastal and stream deposition, masking the former harbor location."
In 1991, Professor Dunn accompanied Drs. Hillard and Beness to Greece to seek the locality of the former harbor, and in 1999 he returned to take several geological cores and complete the field studies. Drs. Hillard and Beness were invited to Norwich, in part, to complete their study of Torone, and to write their results for publication.
"The two and a half weeks that the three of us spent together were full of intense activity that proved very productive," said Dunn. "We were able to complete our paper for a professional journal, and begin a second!"
While at Norwich, Dr. Hillard also attended the Colby Symposium, and according to Dunn, came away very impressed.
"He is writing a paper on military structure during the Roman Republican Period and not only did he find the symposium stimulating, but also new lines of inquiry for his own paper occurred to him as he listened to the open discussion."
Encouraged by the success of the residency, Professor Dunn is hopeful that similar future opportunities will manifest at Norwich.
"The time Drs. Hillard and Beness spent here was a great benefit for all involved, and I hope to see the Visiting Scholar Program grow," said Professor Dunn. "It was a tremendous opportunity!"