Back from Transylvania- Q & A with Miranda Gronow

    Miranda Gronow (TC 2012) was recently awarded the Bachelor of Arts Medal from the University of Melbourne. We caught up with her to find out about her recent trip to Romania, what sparked her interest in archaeology, life at Trinity and her plans for the future.

    In 2015, Miranda was awarded the Bachelor of Arts Medal or Dux for the Faculty of Arts from the University of Melbourne. It was during this period she pursued her interest in archaeology studying a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours in Classics).

    Besides her academic achievements, Miranda also works as a resident tutor, tutoring undergraduate students in subjects including Ancient World Studies and Latin.

    As a budding archaeologist, Miranda has been on expeditions throughout Victoria, Israel and recently returned from Romania.

    You recently returned from Romania. What was the purpose of the trip and what were your impressions of the country?

    I recently travelled to Romania for three weeks to work on the excavation of an Imperial Roman Villa. I worked in an international team from Romania, the USA, Canada and Britain. I was based in a town in Transylvania called Rapoltu Mare.

    I loved Romania – the culture is incredibly welcoming and hospitable. There are so many layers of history, and it was exciting how everyone was very interested in our work, and really respected the role of the archaeologist.

    Dracula did not make an appearance.

    I understand you made a few discoveries while on the dig in Romania. What did you find? 

    Luckily my director owns some rather excellent radar surveying equipment so we were able to dig trenches over where we knew that the main part of the villa actually was! In my square we uncovered the collapse of a wall, a lot of collapsed roof tiles and some artefacts from the house. Nothing's been published yet so I can't tell you exactly what! Even something as mundane as roof tiles are beautiful though, because they have lots of little marks (such as swirls) left by their makers. 

    How do archaeological sites in Romania compare to Australia?

    Obviously in Romania it’s exciting to be able to excavate a Roman, Dacian, or Medieval site…but there are similarities to working in Australia. On a Roman site you’re looking for built remains and the artefacts associated with it and that’s pretty similar to working on ‘Historical’ (ie post white settlement) sites around Victoria. Indigenous Archaeology is very different. You’re looking for more of what I’d call a mindscape – you won’t find any built remains but the dispersal of artefacts can tell you a lot about how the site was used.

    But no matter where you are working, the aim is the same – to find out more about the stories of the people who lived there.

    Where does the interest in archaeology come from?

    I suppose I went through that Ancient Egypt phase that many of us have when we’re 11, but just never got over it. It’s always appealed to me because you can do physical work outside whilst still challenging yourself intellectually. It also gives us the ability to understand the experience of historical groups who are not recorded in written history, which is really powerful.  

    How have you found being a resident tutor at Trinity?

    I’ve really enjoyed working with the talented and diverse group of students that are living at college this year. I definitely learn more from them than they do from me. All the staff has also been incredibly supportive and it’s been really refreshing to come back to the College and have a completely different role in the community after being a student here.

    What about Trinity do you think makes it unique?

     I don’t know too many places where you can regularly sit down to lunch with an architect, a vet and a particle physicist… For both students and staff, I think living alongside people from such diverse disciplines is incredibly stimulating and rewarding.

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