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Posted on Dec 5, 2017

Quincy grad digs summer in Spain

Quincy graduate and University of Washington archaeology major Fiona Koehnen spent part of her summer in Majorca, Spain, participating in a scientific dig of medieval artifacts alongside other students from Spain and the UW. Needless to say, she dug it.
Everything about the experience made a huge impression on Koehnen. She had signed up for this trip abroad knowing that it would involve archaeologic studies.
“It was really fun, I learned a lot,” she said. “I learned the proper techniques to shovel and brush away the dirt.”
She also learned what it’s like to hold an object nobody had held in a long time. She found bones, pottery and helped unearth part of a wall.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling, you are just in awe,” she said. “There’s something that nobody has touched for thousands of years, and you’re the first person to touch it.”
Looking at the pieces, one could learn who the locals were trading with back then, Koehnen said. Some of the pottery found wasn’t indigenous to the area but came from Greece and Italy and other places.
“You could tell that by what the clay was made out of,” she said. “We learned how to tell a piece was from, or what it was probably for.”
Some of the pieces were sent to museums across Spain, while the scientists stored the rest for further observation.

Fiona Koehnen, near the center in a light-green shirt, with some of her co-workers at an archaeological dig in Majorca, Spain. The team included University of Washington students like Koehnen, a Quincy High graduate, and students from Spain.
Submitted photo

The experience lasted for a little more than a month from late June until early August, and it was Koehnen’s first dig.
“I miss the people,” she said. “Learning about different cultures from that area of Spain. And I miss identifying pottery. It was just really interesting and fun to be able to tell where it was from.”
The language barrier wasn’t much of a problem, and she could understand most of what people told her in Spanish.
The dig has been going on for two or three years, Koehnen said, saying that she got to start digging on a new spot, helping clear out the vegetation, and getting through the topsoil to get to the pieces.
“Some of it was medieval, some of it was prehistoric, which is, like, before writing,” she said. “It was pretty old.”
Koehnen said students can go back to the dig for a second year, and the second-year junior said she might give it another shot.
While in Spain, she said, she was too busy to miss home very often.
“I was too immersed in work to feel homesick,” she said. “But I did miss a few family trips that they did, and I was kind of sad that I missed some family experiences, but I was having a great experience myself, and it outweighed that.”

By Sebastian Moraga,

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