Welcome to Transylvania Alive Association for Cultural Heritage, a not for profit organization established in Romania in March 2015.
The seeds of Transylvania Alive were sown 12 years ago, in 2003. After working on archaeological sites in Italy for more than a decade, I was invited by Alexandru Matei to collaborate on an excavation at the Roman site of Porolissum. I spent a beautiful September week in Romania, visiting the site and nearby Zalau, and scouting out cities and monuments in Transylvania and Banat for excursions with field school students. The pilot season of the Porolissum Forum Project took place in summer 2004 with three great students from the USA and a Romanian team of about 12 students and workers. With each summer excavation season at Porolissum, I learned and grew more passionate about Romania, seeing great potential for research, education of students, and tourism.
As a professor of archaeology and ancient art at John Cabot University in Rome, Saint Mary's College Rome Program, and the Duquesne University Rome Center, I had the great fortune of having the museums and monuments in Italy as my classroom. Old stones and broken pottery are not inherently interesting, so I learned how to tell their story - about the people behind their creation and use. Colleagues and I led students to archaeological and historical sites in Campania, Lazio, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Tuscany, visiting World Heritage sites such as Pompeii and Paestum as well as magnificent cities like Naples, Siena and Assisi.
While serving as Director of the American Research Center in Sofia, we led Fellows to world-class sites and cities in Bulgaria, Serbia, Republic of Macedonia, northern Greece, and western Turkey. An important program of ARCS was its annual Site Preservation, Conservation and Museum Enhancement grant, which assisted 4-5 Bulgarian museums each year to develop their collections or upgrade archaeological sites.
With both academic and family ties in Romania, I began to develop a concept for a not for profit organization that would help to enhance cultural heritage sites in this important East European country and to lead educational opportunities for foreign scholars and Romanian students. I also feel strongly that the general public should know about Romania as a travel destination; thus, while not a travel agency, Transylvania Alive works with Romanian stakeholders to promote tourism.
I owe a great deal of thanks to many individuals. First, I want to thank the co-founders and associate members, Gabriela Barbur, Emanuela Dascalu, Crina Iacob, Robert Wanner and Daniel Weiss for their support and creativity. I am grateful to colleagues at the Salaj County Museum of History and Art: Daniel Bacuet-Crisan, Sanda Bacuet-Crisan, Corina Bejinariu, Giani Bejinariu, Daniel Culic, Daniel Deac, Adrian Paul, Horea Pop and Christian Spinu as well as to colleagues in Cluj, especially Zsolt Csok, Edward Nemeth, and Viorica Rusu-Bolindet. Through the Porolissum Forum Project, I developed a small army of friends, who, know it or not, helped to inspire me to develop Transylvania Alive. The website was developed by Mihai Nedisan and his team at Nefasoft. Finally, I received considerable encouragement and insights from my parents, Patrick and Sandra, my sister and her family, Alicia, Mike, Zach and Jake, and, especially, my wife, Edit. Thank you all!
--- Zalau, Romania, May 13, 2015
Eric C. De Sena