SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 26, 2016) – While some are staking out a spot on a beach or by the pool, Dr. Theresa “Teryn” Gilbertson hopes to be digging around a 2,000-year-old mikveh.
The USF Sarasota-Manatee anthropology and religious studies professor is planning a month-long stint this summer at an archaeological dig in Shikhin, the ancient Jewish village outside Sepphoris, near the Sea of Galilee.
She’s going at the invitation of Dr. James R. Strange, associate professor of religious studies at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Dr. Strange needed help filling a supervisory job and Dr. Gilbertson was only too happy to oblige.
“I like to get my hands dirty,” Gilbertson says, adding that she also enjoys teaching, conducting research and working in the lab but they don’t compare with archaeological fieldwork. “Fieldwork gives me that sense of satisfaction.”
She hopes to start digging around a section of Shikhin in mid-May after a stop-off in Greece where she’ll attend the 41st Annual International Symposium on Archaeometry. Dr. Gilbertson will present a poster describing her dissertation.
At Shikhin, she’ll work with other supervisors before students arrive to finish excavating a mikveh, or Jewish ceremonial bath. Then she’ll turn her focus to an ancient pottery factory that exported to traders and villages around the region. She’ll show students techniques to unearth the factory.
Marred by war, wind and sand, Sepphoris, the nearby ancient city, once stood on a hill as an important trading post and home to about 30,000. A civil war between Herod the Great and his archrival Matthias Antigonus severely damaged the city, but it was rebuilt to become the “ornament of all Galilee,” according to first century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
“It was the capital of the Galilee region,” Dr. Gilbertson said, adding that the city finally succumbed under Roman attacks in the mid-fourth century.
Dr. Gilbertson has worked the dig numerous times, but hasn’t visited there since the late 1990s.
Archaeology, a subset of anthropology, can be thrilling, particularly when rare artifacts or coins are unearthed, she said. Coins are hot finds because they’re easily dated, but animal bones, tiles, earthen jars, pieces of cloth, tools and other items can reveal insights about the area’s inhabitants, how they lived, their diet and the different levels of society. Even ancient pollen can yield clues about plant life and agricultural practices.
“Coins are always the most exciting thing to hit,” she said. “When you find something dated to that time around the birth of Christ, and there’s no doubt about the timeline for a coin, … that’s just a real thrill. That’s a heart stopper.”
She says she may someday accompany USF and USFSM students to Shikhin and Sepphoris, but for now she’s investigating the possibility of leading a student trip to Peru. She says the group would visit the Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca as well as Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Before coming to USF and USFSM, Dr. Gilbertson spent a couple of years living in Cuzco.
Accounting professor tells students to expand their career horizons
Dr. Ildiko Toth, associate accounting professor, is steadily building relationships with area employers FCCI, Jabil and Publix – even though they’re not traditional accounting firms.
Last fall, she welcomed St. Petersburg-based Jabil for a classroom presentation and also that semester led a classroom visit to insurer FCCI in Lakewood Ranch. Next month, she plans a trip to Publix’s corporate offices in Lakeland.
“These experiences make the class more real to the students and gives them a framework for thinking outside the box when it comes to their careers,” said Dr. Toth, who teaches accounting information systems. “The Jabil presentation was especially valuable to the students. I was so amazed they came all this way.”
Dr. Toth still cherishes her relationships with traditional accounting firms, but says students can expand their career horizons by considering positions at manufacturers such as Jabil or insurers like FCCI. Even Publix retains a large accounting department. Understanding the systems these employers use is one key distinction, she said.
“We try to make sure that everywhere we go it’s not just about careers, but includes specific accounting-related presentations,” she said. “At FCCI, they presented about their internal controls, risk management and governance structure. It was very relatable to the class.”
One of her students recently landed an internship at FCCI as a result of the visit. “He applied based on the information they provided,” she said.
Her next trip is to Publix’s corporate office on March 18. The students will tour a dairy plant and talk about cost accounting. They’ll also hear from accountants about their jobs at the grocery chain, from business analytics to financial reporting.
“Every semester I try to do two or three of these, either go on a trip or have someone come down here,” she said. “It’s valuable for the students, but it’s also valuable for the companies.”
Relay for Life set for Saturday
USF Sarasota-Manatee, Ringling College of Art & Design and New College of Florida are teaming up to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, scheduled for Saturday.
Relay for Life is an event to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones and raise funds to fight cancer. More than four million people participate in 6,000 relays annually in 24 nations.
This particular event, dubbed “Relay for Life of Suncoast Colleges,” is scheduled Saturday, Feb. 27, from 6 p.m. to midnight at New College.
The event is similar to a relay race in which athletes pass a baton as they circle a track. No baton is needed here, however, and, if they wish, participants may walk the make-shift, quarter-mile course. The event was suggested by a New College student and quickly expanded to include USFSM and Ringling. The public is invited as well.
In addition to the relay, several other events are planned, including “extreme” musical chairs. Costumes, themed laps, food and other fun activities are scheduled too.
To sign up, learn more or to make a donation, visit Relayforlife.org/suncoastcollegesFL.