From USA Today: “Blind archaeologist uncovers ancient childbirth inscription”

The latest issue of the NFB’s Imagineering our Future included an excerpt from USA Today’s Blind archaeologist uncovers ancient childbirth inscription.”  Nutt’s experience is an excellent example of how a blind person can do almost anything with the right adaptive measures in place:  where there’s a will, there’s a way.  You can follow the link to the full article, or I’ve pasted the text below:


Oct 24, 2011

By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY

  Updated// 2011-10-25 12:25 PM

A legally blind archaeology student uncovered one of the oldest depictions of childbirth yet found, inscribed on a pottery sherd from an Etruscan temple site, perhaps 2,700 years old.

Unearthed by UT’s William Nutt, a 2,700-year-old childbirth inscription from a Southern Methodist University dig is seen in Italy.
SMU; UT-Arlington

“I am visually impaired, almost totally blind, so I needed to find an archaeology role where I could work on new excavation strategies,” says William Nutt of the University of Texas at Arlington. He found one at the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project field school run by Southern Methodist University at the site of Poggio Colla, in Italy.

Thought to hold the ruins of a 2,700-year-old pilgrimage site or religious sanctuary for an underworld deity, the site allowed Nutt and his wife, Hannah, also a student, to work out a method of using a trowel with his right hand, while feeling layers of earth with the other.

“It was almost the first thing I found,” he says of the inscribed pottery. Inspection reveals what may be one of the oldest depictions of childbirth found in Europe. Although the Etruscans, who preceded the Romans as rulers of much of northern Italy, were famously frank in some of their tomb art, the child birth image represents a novel find. The inscription was likely repeated on a bowl left at the site, Nutt suggests. Researchers plan to present the inscription to other scholars at a Philadelphia archeology meeting in January, Nutt says.

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