To do research means to inquire about things you do not already know. Employers value research skills highly, and you will have many opportunities to practice them.

Students interested in any of these opportunities should talk to a faculty member.

Research Within Courses

Many classics courses include research projects. Some examples: In art courses, students visit museums and write papers about ancient sculptures or vases that they have examined in person.  In a course on Athenian democracy, a student investigated why the Athenians required slaves to be tortured before their evidence was allowed in court. In a New Testament Greek course, one student wrote about divine epiphanies in Acts and Vergil, and another investigated Roman troops in the province of Judaea.

Sometimes research within courses can lead to a conference paper, most recently one on Ovid's use of Greek hymns in his curse poem Ibis. Emmie Lo '22 created and performed the Appalachian-style adaptation of Psyche’s song from the Cupid and Psyche episode in Apuleius’ Golden Ass.

All senior majors take our capstone course, CLA 480, in which each student picks a topic to research. Recent seniors have explored such topics as the identification of a limestone head found at Athienou, the representation of Sappho in Attic vase painting, the comparisons at the end of Plutarch’s paired lives, grafting in Vergil, the bodies of the Vestal Virgins, and George Washington vis-à-vis Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus.

Independent Research

Some students take the initiative to propose independent study courses, designed and executed with the guidance of faculty members. Examples of previous independent study topics include: the treatment of Spartan war dead, realism in Hellenistic sculpture, Stoicism, an archaeological investigation of an old Davidson golf course now covered by a pine forest, and a 3-D printing project to create an exhibition of small sculptures excavated at Athienou, Cyprus.

Our top-performing students have the chance to write honors theses. An honors thesis typically grows out of an independent study or a CLA 480 paper and involves another semester of research and writing.

Summer Research

Students have multiple options for summer research. Perhaps the most common for our majors is to go on an archaeological dig. Davidson’s Dean Rusk travel grants support student research and experiential learning abroad.

Archaeological Excavations Abroad

Contrada Agnese Project (CAP) at Morgantina, Sicily

Prof. Annie Truetzel is the Director of Materials Management at the Contrada Agnese Project at Morgantina in Sicily. CAP investigates transitions in the urban center, with a particular focus on identifying points of continuity and transformation in the city’s social and economic fabric during the first two centuries of Roman rule in Sicily. If you are interested in working at Morgantina, contact Prof. Truetzel.

Athienou Archaeological Project (AAP) on Cyprus

For more than 30 years, Prof. Michael Toumazou has directed an archaeological excavation at Athienou-Malloura on the island of Cyprus. The project is now moving into a publication phase; students interested in doing an independent research project involving materials from the excavation should talk to Prof. Toumazou.

Other Excavation Opportunities

Davidson is a supporting institution of the American Society of Overseas Research (ASOR), which supports about five dozen excavations in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean AND offers summer research stipends and fellowships for students working on these projects. Davidson students have also excavated at the Athenian Agora in the center of Athens and at Salapia on the southeastern coast of Italy. (One would have dug at Nemea in southern Greece but for COVID.) Many other excavations take student volunteers, and you may be able to earn a course credit for working on an excavation project.

Research Closer to Home

Other students work closer to home. A small group of students has recently been working with Prof. Cheshire on the Ibis Project, developing a fresh text, translation, and commentary on Ovid’s little-known and highly allusive literary curse poem Ibis, for free online access by students, teachers, and scholars alike.

The Davidson Research Initiative (DRI) allows first-, second- and third-year students to design research projects and engage with faculty mentors for guidance and collaboration. Edward Henderson ‘18 used his DRI funding to experiment with building a lyre. Jon Springfield set to music the songs from Prof. Cheshire’s translation of Sophocles’ Trachinian Women, which was published in 2015 under the title Murder at Jagged Rock. Both presented their projects at annual meetings of the Classical Association of the Middle West and South.

Another good source of funding is the Abernethy Endowment, which supports students who wish to pursue independent research and cross-cultural study in the humanities or social sciences, either in the United States or abroad.

Songs from "The Passion of Herman Kilman"

Listen to recordings of the songs from Sophocles' Women of Trachis set in a mythic Wild West. Lyrics by Prof. Keyne Cheshire, music by Jon Springfield (with support from the Davidson Research Initiative), vocals by Jon Springfield and Sarah Connette.

Listen to the Recordings