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Volunteer Review: Jennifer H., Classical & Medieval Archaeology in Romania

Dig site Hello from Hollywood! My name is Jennifer H., and I recently spent two weeks in wonderful Romania taking part in an archaeological dig at the Deva Citadel in the city of Deva, in Transylvania. I have always wanted to do this, and the experience I had at the Citadel will provide a lifelong, wonderful memory for me. I had a great supervisor named Jozsef and considering I was the only volunteer at the time I got a lot of personal attention and was able to learn quite a bit!

The archaeologists that I worked with were named Vali, Anca, Gabby and Georgetta. They were all wonderful people. The Citadel is from the 13th century, and I was lucky enough to find a few artifacts from that time including an arrowhead and a ring. It was pretty exciting for me! I was digging in two separate small areas, which we later determined were probably kitchen garbage’s. I found a lot of animal bones, broken pottery, metallic pieces (not sure what they were unclean), glass (some with gold paint), a tiny clothing decoration/hook, the arrowhead, and the ring! Vali was nice enough to send me a picture of the cleaned ring, and it turned out to be silver with a lion carved on the top! Really nice!

Excavating the walls Everyday we went up to the Citadel (which was on top of a big hill) in a small cable car. A little scary at first, but I got used to it. Then, at the top, it was another 130 stairs or so to the work area. We did this twice a day, coming down once for lunch. It was very cold while I was there (September), which made it a little difficult to get started, but I was enjoying what I was doing so much that I didn't notice it after awhile! I wore knee pads which helped since I was on my knees most of the time. The tools I used were a trowel, a scraper, and a pan to throw dirt out. I was really sore after the first day, and didn’t think I was going to make it the rest of the time! But I got accustomed to the work after awhile, and it was a great workout!

I was mostly digging in the dirt itself, but I also scraped the inside of the walls to get the dirt out and in case anything had gotten lodged there. I started at 8am every morning, had lunch at 1pm, and went home at 5pm. The lunches, by the way, were at a restaurant that had a set menu for all the workers. A lot of it I could eat, but considering I don’t eat red meat, I was a bit limited in what I could have. The bread was great, as well as the chicken, the soups, and the vegetables. I loved the Mamaliga, and the hot chocolate in Romania is the best!

My office! My general impression of Romania was that although it seems to be a financially poorer country it is definitely not poor in wonderful, kind people, fascinating history, fabulous castles, great food, and beautiful scenery. I’ve traveled a lot in my life, and usually when my trip is done I’m ready to go home. But I didn’t want to leave Romania! There was so much more I wanted to see and do, and I hope I can go back again someday.

All in all my trip was a great experience, and I recommend it to anyone who is considering doing something like this. I very much wanted to stay longer, and I will never forget the two weeks I spent there. This was the first time that I have ever really done volunteer work, and although getting paid to work is always nice, volunteering gives you a different sort of satisfying feeling that you are really doing something good, which in the end is payment enough. I hope this will lead me to more volunteering, and more archaeology trips! Thank you to everyone at Projects Abroad, to all the archaeologists, and a special thank you to my supervisor Jozsef!

Jennifer H.

This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.

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