The four of us piled into the Opel and drove through Transylvania, stopping at Colonia Ulpia Traiana, Alba Iulia and Sighisoara, before arriving to Zalau.
I began teaching at John Cabot University in Rome and for the Saint Mary’s College Rome Program in Fall 2003. Half of my courses were on-site, meaning that my classrooms included the Roman forum, Campus Martius, and the Capitoline Museum. Lecturing in front of the Temple of Divine Julius Caesar or the statue of the dying Gaul allowed students to gain a much greater understanding of the monuments and works of art than if they were in a classroom in the USA. There are challenges too: dodging cars, speaking over the din of traffic, and keeping the attention of twenty 20-year olds in the streets of Rome.
I was also busy planning the first season of the Porolissum Forum Project. The IT director of AAR, Jon Cooper, gave me a crash course in the creation of websites and marketing and I began to spread the word about the project. Three students participated in the 2004 pilot season: Chris Blanchette and Stephanie Barrante from Salve Regina University and Meg McIntyre from Wake Forest College. With all plans set for the summer excavations, I loaded my Opel station wagon and began a trek of more than 1000 miles to Timisoara, with a night in Graz, Austria along the way. I chose the shortest-looking route according to my trusty road atlas – the highway from Italy to Graz was just fine, but the one-lane roads through western Austria and Hungary took twice as long as I imagined. I arrived in Timisoara a day before the students and we had a nice few days visiting the History Museum and historical buildings in the city and being led by Calin Timoc to the Roman site of Tibiscum. Stephanie, Meg, and I tasted local cuisine, such as ciorba di burta (tripe soup); Chris was happy with McDonalds.
The four of us piled into the Opel and drove through Transylvania, stopping at Colonia Ulpia Traiana, Alba Iulia and Sighisoara, before arriving to Zalau. The four week season was very productive and fun. We were joined by then-graduate student Paul Pupeaza and hired about 12 young students from Moigrad on the excavations. We excavated three trenches, defining the north and east sides of the presumed forum’s courtyard and revealed evidence of a public bath on the east side (see http://nefasoft.org/castru/porolissum for details about the PFP). We took two weekend trips during the season – one weekend to Cluj and Turda and one weekend in the region of Baia Mare. In Cluj, we visited important sites such as the Cathedral of St. Michael, the house of Matteus Corvan and the History Museum; in Turda, we visited the legionary camp of Potaissa and the salt mine. The weekend in Baia Mare was highly eventful as it was in the context of celebrating the history museum’s 100th anniversary. On the drive to Baia Mare, we stopped at the monastery of Targu Lapuș, where we happily stumbled upon a large festival. After a wonderful lunch of sarmale that had been cooked over a fire in a 100 liter cauldron, we arrived at Baia Mare in time to visit the geological museum. The next day, we met about 50 Romanian archaeologists at the museum for the anniversary celebration, which began in the courtyard with a concert by a troupe of baritone singers and continued with a series of speeches and lectures. In the afternoon, we took a group tour of nearby archaeological sites and returned to Baia Mare for a sumptuous banquet.
After a fine and memorable season, Meg, Stephanie, Chris, and I piled back into the Opel for a return to Timisoara. We parted ways the next day and I head back to Rome. The city seemed much smaller somehow, but it grew large again as the semester began and I began to plan the future of the PFP.