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Italian well finds to be discussed Jan. 25 by JU Art History Prof. Cheryl Sowder

Ancient grape seeds unearthed within a Roman level of the well of the 1st century C.E. Photo courtesy Florida State University.

Fascinating finds in Italy — including excavated grape seeds from the time of Christ — will be the subject of a lecture at the University of North Florida Jan. 25 by JU Art History Prof. Cheryl Sowder.

A team member excavating in the well at Cetamura at a depth of about 30 meters. Photo by Lorenzo Cecchini.

Sowder will present work as a member of the team excavating the well at Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, Italy.  The ongoing project is a partnership of Florida State University, associates from other universities, and the Italian archaeological firm Ichnos.  Excavation of the well has now reached a depth of 107 feet. Extracted have been numerous levels, each filled with a plethora of artifacts and organic remains. From pottery and coins, these levels have been identified as dating between the Etruscan Hellenistic era and Roman early Empire, or 4th century B.C.E. and 1st century C.E.  Analysis of the finds is yielding new insights regarding Etruscan and Roman habitation of this ancient site.

“We have found some pretty dramatic, exciting stuff — even hundreds of 2,000-year-old grape seeds, which we’re putting to DNA testing to see if there’s a connection between them and grapes grown today for Chianti wine,” said Sowder. “The lecture will cover the archaeological fieldwork I’ve been conducting each summer at Cetamura in Italy, focusing especially on our excavation of the Well over summer 2012 and 2013.”

JU Art History Prof. Cheryl Sowder

The noon event in UNF Building 51, Room 1205 is part of the meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America-Jacksonville Society, formed last August.

Prof. Sowder has devoted a bulk of her career to archaeological fieldwork, excavating at the late Roman site of Stobi in Macedonia and Etruscan and Roman site of Cetamura del Chianti in central Italy.  She currently serves as a staff associate with the latter excavation, spending her summers as a member of the team leading investigation of Cetamura’s ancient well.

Parking is free. For more information, visit www.AIAJAX.org, contact Melva Price at (904) 241-9411 or email aiajaxsoc@gmail.com.