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A Road Once Traveled

Nontraditional Student Digs Into International Archaeology

Article by Ralph Bartholdt, University Communications
Photos and video by Jamie Dougall, Edited by University Visual Productions

Jamie Dougall uncovered her future while digging up the past.

A few years out of high school, Dougall worked at a North Idaho amusement park, operated a nonprofit and worked at a senior living facility when she decided to change her future.

She enrolled at U of I as an undergraduate, non-traditional student to pursue her love of things international and signed up for an archaeology summer program. It required traveling to Bulgaria – a former Soviet Bloc country – to unearth pieces of an ancient Greek culture.

The anthropology program was exactly what I was looking for.  Jamie Dougall, Sophomore.

If she had wanted an easy path, she would not have traveled 6,000 miles to kneel in dirt and rubble several hours per day, for two weeks scraping with a trowel, and digging with hand tools to exhume a road used as an industrial trade route dating to the Classical and Hellenistic Period around 200 BC.

Dougall’s decision to gain experience in her chosen field through immersion in another culture, and hands-on learning at a dig site along the Black Sea has cemented her focus on earning degrees in international studies and anthropology.

“It was an amazing experience and something I had wanted to do. I just didn’t know how until I enrolled at U of I,” Dougall said.

Unearthing an Ancient Greek Roadbed Along the Black Sea

University of Idaho student Jamie Dougall helps to unearth an ancient Greek road in Bulgaria and learn about the area's history and culture.

Growing up in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls where she learned to love history and people’s stories, Dougall entered the work force after high school because she thought college was not attainable.

“As a low-income, first-generation student, I found that my university options were limited,” Dougall said.

Affording a college education seemed out of reach, but the university’s in-state tuition and merit-based scholarships made it achievable, she said.

“I could afford to come here,” she said. “Better than that, the anthropology program was exactly what I was looking for. It fit my goals better than any other school in the state, and I was excited to come learn with the professors here.”

Woman waves while walking past an ancient temple.
Jamie Dougall, a nontraditional student studying international studies and anthropology traveled to Bulgaria to work on an archeological dig site.

The nonprofit she formed after high school, before enrolling at U of I, taught students to write and tell their stories.

“Stories are my thing, and I love the way both anthropology and international studies give us the opportunity to listen to people’s unique stories,” she said. “With archaeology, we learn to understand their stories from the things they left behind.”

During the summer excavation program she gathered more stories, most notably those of a region’s history and culture, taught by experts such as Professor Katharine Kolpan.

“I got to experience the nitty-gritty of archaeology -- dirt, shovels and long hours in the sun. I got to do it with students from around the globe, learning from world-class experts,” she said. “I experienced Bulgaria, a country I never thought I would get to visit. I learned about their history and their present-day experience.”

Woman uses a trowel to remove dirt at a dig site.
Professor Kate Kolpan led a group of students at an archeological dig site in Bulgaria where they excavated an ancient Greek road.

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