(URSP) Undergraduate research scholar
This past summer, Christopher Simonson, was awarded a grant through the Undergraduate Research Scholar Program to support his research project involving medieval burials at the college's excavation of the church of Sant' Ansano in the commune of Allerona near Orvieto, Italy. The Undergraduate Research Scholar Program (URSP) seeks to promote scholarly undergraduate research, support inter-institutional mentoring, and increase the number of successful admissions to graduate school for students attending a small, four-year liberal arts college. The URSP supports a team that includes one junior undergraduate (Chris), a Saint Anselm faculty mentor (Prof. George), and an external graduate level mentor (Dr. Claudio Bizzarri).
His research examines the placement and distribution of burials around the church of Sant' Ansano, as well as the presence of grave goods (or lack of them) in an attempt to discern a pattern indicating rank. This summer he worked on two burials, one a soldier, the other a cleric. He looked particularly at the post mortem arrangement of the arms and treatment of the body. Of special interest was the treatment of Burial 1 (the soldier) which showed indications of a post mortem arrangement of the mouth in accord with what is known of rituals dealing with the restless dead. This practice, called maschalismos by the Greeks, is usually indicated by the insertion of a stone or brick into the mouth of the deceased.