At the beginning, surrounded by verdant farmland, the archaeological secrets of two ancient cities lay dormant below the surface on a Mediterranean island. That changed when William Childs, Professor of Art and Archaeology Emeritus, arrived at that rustic spot on the northwest coast of Cyprus in the early 1980s to explore the possibility of establishing an archaeological expedition for Princeton.
Childs brought with him a handful of graduate students who, under hardscrabble conditions, worked with basic tools — pickaxes, shovels, trowels, brushes and wheelbarrows — while all along taking notes. Little did they know that their efforts would unearth a Cypriot “City of Gold” that would lead to decades of educational opportunities for Princeton students.
Since a course called “Archaeology” was introduced on campus in 1843, the University has challenged students in the classroom and on excavations abroad to experience the culture, history, art, architecture and politics of the ancient world. In 1883, a formal Department of Art and Archaeology was founded.
A century later, the Princeton University Archaeological Expedition at Polis Chrysochous — that scrap of land in Cyprus — was established with Childs as director. The excavation set the stage for hands-on learning experiences for hundreds of Princeton students; new academic courses; and a major loan exhibition, “City of Gold: Tomb and Temple in Ancient Cyprus,” on view until January 20, 2013, at the Princeton University Art Museum.
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