UAlbany Archaeologists Back in Yugoslavia After 11-Year Gap Brought on by War

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4981; cell (518) 265-4114

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 16, 2002) -- After an 11-year hiatus dictated by United Nations sanctions against Serbia, University at Albany archaeologists have been re-invited to Yugoslavia to collaborate in researching a major historical site.

Classics Professor Michael Werner will lead a UAlbany team in an excavation at the ancient Roman Legionary Base at Viminacium, on the Danube River. The Roman military base dates back to A.D. 33 and, in addition to its use as a Roman encampment, might have been used by subsequent military forces including the fifth century's Attila the Hun.

"We're very excited about returning," said Werner, who by summer of 2003 expects to assemble a team of 10-12 students and research faculty. "This is a significant archaeological site on an empire-wide basis, and we're gratified to be back in Yugoslavia to learn and contribute. It feels like coming back home." This time around the team will utilize magnetic resistivity and ground-penetrating radar devices, all non-destructive procedures, to initially identify certain types of remains.

For some 25 years before the U.N. introduced sanctions in 1991, the University at Albany collaborated with Yugoslav institutions and international agencies on projects of historical and archaeological importance. In November of this year, Werner was invited by the Yugoslav Federal Ministry of Technology and Development to the capital of Belgrade to meet personally with government officials to negotiate details of the project. He also delivered lectures on the Roman imperial architecture and mining practices at Belgrade University and at the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences. Earlier in the summer, two UAlbany students initiated participation in the Viminacium excavation.

"The mission is more than an single archaeological dig," said Werner, who teaches Roman Art and Archaeology and is the official City Archaeologist for Albany. "It's an expansive and ongoing regional research project involving numerous government entities and educational institutions. We're able to re-establish a wonderful working relationship with Yugoslavia, which participates in and benefits from the research, and our students get invaluable hands-on experience at Roman sites."

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