Luther College professor Dan Davis to lead five students on international archaeological excavations

May 7, 2018

This May and June, Luther College professor Dan Davis will take two different groups of Luther students on excavations: Robert Muller, Anna Luber and Zachary Ziarnik, will accompany Davis to Caesarea, Israel, where they will help launch a new, multi-year excavation, and Collin Carpenter and Alex Aakre will help Davis with artifact processing in Southern Greece. Davis is a classical archaeologist who focuses on both ancient shipwrecks and harbor sites in the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions.

The Caesarea excavation is an ancient Roman site located on the Mediterranean Sea. Davis will serve as assistant field director under Joseph Rife, director of classical and Mediterranean studies at Vanderbilt University. The Luther students will work alongside a contingent of students from Vanderbilt University who are completing a Maymester course on Roman to Medieval Near East. They will learn archaeological methods of excavation, artifact analysis and processing, and the history of the region. The dig also includes frequent lectures on historical, archaeological and cultural topics related to the region. The vast archaeological zone of Caesarea is a popular tourist spot that many international teams have been digging at for the past four decades, however, together they have only covered a portion of the city. Davis and Rife will excavate a part of the city that remains untouched.

The second part of Davis’ journey in Southern Greece will be at Kenchreai this June where has collaborated with Rife for the past six years. The students will help them process the archaeological finds that have been excavated over the past several years and prepare them for publication.

Davis, assistant professor of classics, began at Luther in 2011. He teaches ancient Greek, Latin and classical civilization courses including Greek and Roman Archaeology, marine archaeology, ancient science and mythology. He has authored numerous articles on ancient seafaring and marine archaeology and is currently working on two major publication projects. One project is a book chapter on the sailing performance of the replica of a 2,300-year-old merchant ship found off Cyprus. For his other project on ancient shipwrecks in the deep sea, Davis served as the chief marine archaeologist for the E/V Nautilus expeditions with Robert Ballard. He has already co-authored three articles on shipwrecks in scientific journals, and his work is expected to culminate in the scholarly book “Archaeological Oceanography of the Aegean and Black Seas: Ocean Exploration in Turkey, 2007-2013.”

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college’s website: