Student Plans to Unearth Language of Papyri

by Alex Keys

Unlike most seniors at Transylvania University, Victoria Milam is rather sure of what she wants to do for the rest of her life.

Before arriving at Transy, Milam did not expect to spend most of her time in the Haupt Humanities building. While she had been interested in archeology since a young age, Milam had begun college believing that she would major in art.

“I’d wanted to be an archaeologist ever since I’d seen Indiana Jones when I was 5,” Milam said. “I just didn’t really think it was a feasible option.”

After her first year at Transy, Milam decided to pursue a degree in anthropology after all.

During her sophomore year, Milam was sure that she wanted to continue her education in archeology with a focus on South America. However, after taking a summer-term history course with Dr. Frank Russell, she became highly interested in the study of linguistics.

“The thing that hooked me was the very first day when we deconstructed the origins of words and days of the week,” Milam said.

In the same manner that she had always been interested in how archeology reconstructs ancient culture based on human records, Milam became fascinated by the way that linguistics accomplishes a similar reconstruction through language.

“Now I don’t want to do anything else,” said Milam.

After this interest sparked, Milam took Dr. Russell as her faculty advisor and began to study classical Greek under his guidance. Soon, she became interested in papyrology, the study of language written on paper (specifically on papyrus). Through the translation and interpretation of ancient and classical texts, papyrologists reconstruct the ideologies and practices of ancient societies.

“It’s like a giant jigsaw puzzle,” Milam said.

Not too long after graduating from Transy, Milam hopes to enroll in a graduate program in papyrology, possibly at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. In addition to classical Greek, she will have to learn to read ancient Greek, Latin and a variety of other languages.

“I want to be a student forever,” Milam said.


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