Written By Art Jahnke For BU Today
A third-year PhD student working on an archaeological dig in western Turkey was found dead Thursday morning, apparently the victim of a fall in a rugged area of hills and caves in the province of Manisa. Chad DiGregorio, 26, reportedly set out alone on his day off in search of artifacts that would support his research. His body was found by a police search party.
Willis Wang, a BU vice president and associate provost, said DiGregorio’s colleagues in the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, a university research project, notified local police on Wednesday evening, after he failed to show up for a group dinner. Wang said fellow researchers managed to hack into DiGregorio’s personal computer to find the GPS location of his cell phone, which led searchers to the countryside one hour from the project’s base in the village of Tekelioğlu.
DiGregorio’s thesis adviser, College of Arts & Sciences professor of archeology Curtis Runnels, said the loss of his student was incalculable. “Chad was the best and most promising young archaeologist that I know, with a passionate interest in the Paleolithic archaeology of the Mediterranean world,” he said. “He had tremendous enthusiasm for his chosen field, which was kindled by the work we did together in Crete that led to the discovery of early seafaring and is helping to rewrite the early prehistory of humankind. His sharp intelligence and inquiring mind, coupled with his great energy, discipline, and drive, would have propelled him to the top of the field. His loss is incalculable in personal terms for his family and many loving friends, but it is also a devastating loss for science.”
Jean Morrison, university provost and chief academic officer, said the death of the young scholar was heartbreaking. “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Chad DiGregorio in this tragic accident,” she said. “His family is first and foremost in our thoughts.”
Mary Beaudry, chair of the archaeology department, said the professors and students in the department were devastated. “Chad was one of our most promising students,” she said. “He was bright, personable, dedicated to the archaeological study of the first humans who occupied the Mediterranean region. Untimely is inadequate as a word to express how greatly his passing constitutes a loss to his family, friends, and colleagues, as well as to the field of archaeology.”
The Central Lydia Archaeological Survey is a seven-year-old interdisciplinary study of the ancient cultures of Lydia, in the western part of what is now Turkey. Funded by the National Science Foundation as well as private donations, it is the first comprehensive archaeological project of its kind in Lydia, and it explores the ways people adapted to environmental and landscape constraints. Led by Christopher H. Roosevelt, a CAS associate professor of archaeology and Christina Luke, a CAS senior lecturer in the archaeology and anthropology departments, it attracts graduate student researchers for summer-long study projects. This year’s cohort included six BU students as well as students from several other schools.
DiGregorio is a native of Upton, Mass. Funeral arrangements are pending. BU Today will provide those details when they become available.