June 13, 2023
To celebrate our 2023 Fellowship recipients, we will be spotlighting each of our winners in news stories on the AIA website. We have reached out to our winners to learn about their projects and about their experiences in archaeology. We’re excited for you to meet Stephen Czujko, the Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship winner for this year.
Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship winner: Stephen Czujko (he/him); The University of Missouri-Columbia
What is your fellowship project about?
I am a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Classics, Archaeology, and Religion, University of Missouri-Columbia. My dissertation project, “Aegean pottery in the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean: a new technological look at its reception and imitation”, will examine the movement of Aegean pottery through the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean. Using a suite of scientific methods suited to mineralogical, chemical, and microstructural analysis of pottery, this project looks to identify varied technological signatures and link these to artisans of different cultural and geographic backgrounds. In so doing, it aims to contribute to our understanding of how Aegean craft s and craftspeople participated in different zones of interaction in the Eastern Mediterranean during the terminal phase of the Late Bronze Age (13th-12th c. BCE). This focus of this project is two key zones of interaction: Eastern Cyprus and the Sharon Plain and Upper Jordan Valley. Assemblages from the sites of Enkomi and Beth Shean have been chosen for study to represent these zones of interaction, respectively. The fellowship funding provided by this fellowship will support my study of selected materials from Enkomi that are presently in the Medelhavsmuseet in Stockholm, Sweden.
How did you get your start in archaeology?
At my undergraduate institution, Denison University, I had an absolutely fantastic mentor, Dr. Rebecca Kennedy, who first inspired me to pursue Classics as a field of study. Throughout my time there, she was very encouraging and supportive. Seeing my growing interest in the field, she helped me to find opportunities to both study abroad and also explore archaeological fieldwork. I jumped at chances to do both. I studied abroad in Greece as part of the (then) Arcadia University Athens Center and, shortly after returning from a semester there, went on my first excavation in Romania. By the end of that first season I was convinced it was what I wanted to do for a career. Both experiences led me to try a second excavation in Israel before then applying to the University of Arizona’s MA program. Through that program I was able to participate in the school’s project in Greece (at Mt. Lykaion) and I have been happily pursuing a degree and career ever since.
Where in the world has archaeology brought you (fieldwork, research, conference travel, etc.)?
I have had the good fortune to get to travel and work in a few countries. I mentioned Romania, Israel, and Greece. But, archaeology has also brought me to some unexpected places closer to home. Before starting my PhD program, and before I had a set dissertation topic, a number of archaeologist friends of mine suggested that once I got settled in Missouri I should reach out to some colleagues of theirs at the Missouri University Research Reactor (MURR), who were working in the Archaeometry Laboratory there. I did and was given a tour of the facilities the week before my first term of classes started. I did not know it at the time, but that brief tour would spawn a five-plus year-long adventure in archaeological science. Starting out in archaeology, I would not have guessed so much of my time and research would wind up being dedicated to working in a nuclear facility, and in a clean lab studying isotopic systems.
What is one of the most memorable things that has happened to you in the field?
My time working at the Mt. Lykaion Excavation and Survey Project in Arcadia, Greece has included many memorable moments. But, I do think back often to one particular summer (2017) when seemingly every day for a month our team, which was working with the site’s mountaintop ash altar, was treated to these fast-moving, low-lying clouds that would completely envelop us and our trenches. Each morning we would get to site, walk up the altar from the upper sanctuary’s temenos, get our gear stowed, be just in time to see clouds glide over the mountain’s north peak and then rush straight towards us on the south peak. You would be surrounded by thick fog and mist, as the clouds literally passed over you. By mid-morning they would leave and you were treated to exceptionally clear views of most of the Peloponnese (Mt. Erymanthos in the north and Mt. Taygetos in the south). On the clearest of days you could see Zakynthos in the very far distance. And I loved that.
How has the AIA contributed to your success/professional goals?
The AIA has been a big part of my career development for a long time now. My first introduction to the AIA was through interesting talks hosted by the Tucson chapter during my MA. Since then, I have been involved as a (poster) presenter at the annual meeting and an officer for my local (mid-Missouri) chapter. The latter in particular was a great opportunity that allowed me to connect with visiting scholars and also learn from people who work at the AIA. Most recently, I have had the immense privilege of receiving the 2023 Harriet and Leon Pomerance Fellowship. This is allowing me to pursue my dream dissertation project and is opening doors that I otherwise would not be able to.
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
I would just like to express my profound thanks to the AIA for all that they do to support students like me.
Learn more about what Fellowship opportunities are available through the AIA or reach out to our Programs and Professional Services Coordinator, Kati Albert at email@example.com.