Ancient ruins await two honours students from the University of Newcastle who are embarking on major archaeological digs in the Mediterranean.
Mother-of-two Bernadette Drabsch will leave for Jordan this week, while 22-year-old Alex Donald will visit Cyprus in April. Both students will work on digs uncovering artefacts dating back to the Bronze Age in 3000 BC.
An honours student in natural history illustration, Bernadette Drabsch said she had waited nearly two years to be part of an archaeological expedition with a team from the University of Sydney.
"I will be based in a lab drawing artefacts such as pottery shards found on the site at Pella in Jordan. These artefacts must be measured and drawn precisely as they are vital to the dating of different civilisations," Mrs Drabsch said.
A graduate of Open Foundation - a University tertiary preparation program - Mrs Drabsch said she focused on archaeological illustration as a career path after realising it combined her passion for art with ancient history.
"Attending this dig will give me the field experience necessary to pursue work as a freelance archaeological illustrator when I return home."
In April, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) student Alex Donald will join with a University of Edinburgh team on a dig in the foothills of western Cyprus.
His interest in the archaeology was sparked while studying the Bronze Age of Mediterranean history in high school.
"The relative lack of written evidence means that an archaeological approach really has to be used in order to understand the period between the Stone and Iron Ages," Mr Donald said.
"This dig will involve demanding physical labour excavating artefacts from hardened hillsides. We will need to work carefully to unearth and catalogue delicate artefacts and subtle signs of life."
Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University, Dr Jane Bellemore, said it was a coup for students to be part of such major digs.
While both are gifted artists and have completed undergraduate studies in ancient history at the University, neither has any formal archaeological training and both are still enrolled at honours levels.
"Attending a major overseas dig is an opportunity of a lifetime and will provide an invaluable kickstart to their careers in archaeology," Dr Bellemore said.
Media contact: Kate Reid, Media and PR, on 02 4921 5351. Bernadette Drabsch and Alex Donald are available for interview today (Wednesday 28 January 2009).