Digging into the past can be rewarding, just ask CSE alumna Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati (pictured, right). At a recent Lunch and Learn event, the accomplished archaeologist shared her journey from CSE to ancient excavation sites around the world. Her sister Nancy Kelly Plimpton (pictured, left), '58, chemistry, accompanied her.
After graduating from CSE with a history degree, Buccellati received her Master's and Ph.D. from University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, a research organization devoted to the study of the ancient Near East. "Even before I went to there for my Master's, I knew almost everything about ancient history," said Buccellati.
Coming from a strong background in religion, she has a great interest in ancient eastern archaeology, including Syro-Mesopotamia and its connections with Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus region. "Religion played a central role in these people's lives, as does mine," she explained.
Buccellati said that since then, she has excavated throughout Turkey, Iraq and Syria and has become the Director of the Mozan/Urkesh Archaeological Project in Syria. Buccellati's sister Nancy walked around the room with a map and showed the students the site locations. Her site reports on these excavations are the main topic of her publications, written with her husband, Giorgio Buccellati.
One of the Buccellati's discoveries of piglet and puppy bones left the students sighing in sadness. Large pits filled with these bones were used as burial grounds for the ancient people's sacrifices. "Unlike the Christian belief system where we speak to God, these ancient people would sacrifice animals and it was up to the gods to decide their fate."
Many of her other publications include studies on seal iconography, ceramics and rituals. During her excavations, she has come across the seals that the ancient people used to identify their property and she had to write down every single one. "Everyone needed a seal, even the wet nurses who breast fed other women's infants," Buccellati explained.
"I think it is amazing the stories that she has lived," said Nastasya Tsultsomova, junior global studies and business major. "They inspire me to go out and find my own exciting adventures to tell the world."