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For Immediate Release
April 20, 2018

Student Selected for Summer
Field Study Program in Budapest


Moreno Valley College student Dante Ayala has been selected to participate in the Bronze Age Körös Off-Tell Archaeological (BAKOTA) Field School this summer in Budapest, Hungary. The six-week program is hosted by Quinnipiac University and the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site program.

Dante Ayala

For the last year, Ayala has been working on the College's Flying with Swallows project as an individual researcher. It was his research experience with the swallow program that helped him land this opportunity, Joanna Werner-Fraczek, Ph.D., associate professor, Biology, said.

Ayala will work with an international, multidisciplinary research team on the excavation and analysis of a Middle Bronze Age cemetery and settlement in eastern Hungary. The excavation has allowed researchers to assess variation in health, nutrition, regional background, rituals, and access to trade of communities in the Körös region, a crossroads for products and people from the Balkans, the Russian Steppe, and Central Europe. According to project directors, Bronze Age cemeteries often show strong inequalities in access to exotics such as bronze, gold, and fine ceramics. Differences in funerary ritual, such as the treatment of the body and the location of the grave, often correspond to religious tradition, rank, and clan. So far, 42 graves have been excavated, many of which contain cremated bodies in ceramic funerary urns. Small vessels are commonly included with the deceased, and occasionally bronze bracelets are found.

"First reaction was disbelief," Ayala said. "Acceptance to the field school was a real validation in that it reaffirmed the effort and time that I've placed into my studies is paying off. It also reassured me that I am a competitive student and it has further encouraged me to continue my coursework in a STEM field."

In addition to his field work, Ayala will be matched with a mentor who will steer him through the process of conducting an independent research project related to the chemical analysis of burned human bone. At the conclusion of the six-week program he will present his results to the research team as well as develop a conference paper that will be presented at Society for American Archaeology meetings in the spring of 2019.

More information about the BAKOTA project, visit