For the past two and a half years, I have been working on multi-method analyses of Roman sarcophagi in Ancient Art History. My project focuses on a single sarcophagus decorated with a representation of the myth of the satyr Marsyas that has been broken up into three fragments. Our goal is an elaboration of past studies of these fragments that strive to prove that the three fragments belong to the same sarcophagus. I’ve performed both a visual analysis – an analysis of the figures carved on each fragment – and multiple archaeometric analyses – tests that determine the chemical and mineralogical composition of the marble – on the fragments to determine whether the fragments came from the same quarry.
I got into research through the CURO Honors Scholarship. I’m an Advertising major with minors in Art History and Spanish, so I worked with a professor from Grady during my first semester as a CURO Scholar. After that semester, my first mentor went on a leave-of-absence, so I started doing research in Ancient Art History to pursue an interest piqued by an Art History survey course.
Dr. Frances Van Keuren (Art History Professor Emeriti, Lamar Dodd School of Art) has been my mentor since the second semester of my freshman year at UGA. She has been a tremendous influence on me as a researcher, as a student and as a person. Her style of mentoring was a sort of "structured freedom:" we met once a week to discuss the project’s progress and future goals, but overall, I worked independently. Of course, Dr. Van Keuren guided me through the project, but she did so while treating me as a colleague. For example, just two months after I started working with her, she trusted me with presenting one of the methods of archaeometic analysis as well as designing the visuals for a research presentation for Lamar Dodd faculty and students. I gained a lot of confidence in my abilities from working with her, especially since she credited me as the co-author of an article for the journal proceedings of ASMOSIA IX – the Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity, a conference we attended together in June 2009.
Pursuing research as CURO Honors Scholar has given me a sense of purpose as a student. I love that I’ve actually contributed to the university and academia in general. When I first began research in Art History, I pursued it for the pure enjoyment of the subject, but I didn’t really understand why it matters. After having attended numerous lectures in Art History – directly related to my project and not – I’ve gained an understanding of how my work fits into the whole scheme of art historical, geological and archaeological research.
In regards to the CURO program in general, I’ve learned there are few limitations of research. I’ve heard from a student that studied the properties of fog through art; another one who studies adult stem cells; and someone else who studies Twitter in context of college campuses. The program is a locus of intellectually curious students who are involved in a huge variety of fields; it’s fascinating what you can learn just by talking with other students and professors who are involved in the program.