Discovery Channel Star Follows Baylor Faculty and Students in 'Expedition Unknown' Season 10 Finale
By Emily Clark, M.A., Director of Communications, Baylor University Honors College
WACO, Texas (Aug. 29, 2022) – Research led by Baylor University faculty and students will be explored on the national stage as they share their findings from the San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project during a Season 10 episode of the popular primetime Discovery adventure series "Expedition Unknown," which premieres Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. CST on Discovery.
Hosted by Josh Gates, "Expedition Unknown" chronicles Gates’ global adventures as he investigates iconic unsolved events, lost cities and buried treasure. Filmed in June, the episode “Finding Italy’s Lost Empire” features Baylor Honors College professors Davide Zori, Ph.D., and Colleen Zori, Ph.D., leading Gates through their archeological dig site as they seek to understand the Etruscan occupation of the San Giuliano plateau in central Italy.
“We have had such an incredible experience,” Davide Zori said. “This episode, ‘Finding Italy's Lost Empire,’ will showcase the work of numerous Baylor faculty members from different disciplines working alongside our undergraduate students on a collaborative research project.”
Baylor’s involvement with Discovery began when the project was awarded an Explorer’s Club Discovery grant. The grant allowed the team to purchase a drone and a LiDAR (laser imaging, detection and ranging) antenna, which is used to make high-resolution maps. The equipment helps archaeologists detect such things as underground tombs.
“Producers from the show learned of our research because of the grant,” Davide Zori said. “From there, they became more and more interested in the project. After talking with them, it became clear they wanted to do justice to the site and the people who are a part of the community. I am thrilled for a broader audience to see what makes this unique site so intriguing.”
Since 2016, the Zoris – in partnership with Lori Baker, Ph.D., professor of anthropology, Deirdre Fulton, Ph.D., associate professor of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, James Fulton, Ph.D., assistant professor of geosciences, and Alden Smith, Ph.D., professor of classics – have investigated the Etruscan occupation of the plateau and the transitions that followed, including incorporation into the Roman Empire, transformations in the medieval settlement pattern and final abandonment of the site sometime before A.D. 1300.
“The Etruscans are a pre-Roman civilization that lasted from roughly 800 B.C. to about 250 B.C.,” Davide Zori said. “This summer our main targets, which are highlighted on the show, are the Etruscan necropolis, or city of the dead, the Etruscan city of the living and a medieval castle built atop the Etruscan city of the living.”
Baylor students spend six weeks at the site as a part of Archaeology Research in Italy – a summer study abroad program. From morning until around 5 p.m., students are in the field collecting materials. They spend their evenings uploading photographs and analyzing ceramics, skeletal material and anything else they recover.
“I am always amazed at the caliber of students we have each year,” Baker said. “They truly get to be involved with the discovery process and learn firsthand what fieldwork is like. It will be a joy to see our students’ hard work reflected on screen in such an interesting way.”
The project is making its mark on Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan. Illuminate’s four pillars encompass Christian mission; transformational education; research marked by quality, impact and visibility; and excellence in arts and athletics.
“By leading this one-of-a-kind archeological dig, our faculty are achieving great things on the international stage. We also can see in their work how all the elements of Illuminate fit together,” said Honors College Dean Douglas Henry, Ph.D. “They are fulfilling a Christian calling to understand and remember the lives of a long-lost people made by God, and they are giving students valuable hands-on learning. Discovery is showcasing their research on its most highly rated prime time series, and the artifacts recovered at the dig will become part of a treasured cultural heritage preserved for future generations to view, admire and ponder.”
The “Expedition Unknown” episode featuring Baylor also will be available to stream on Discovery+. To learn more about the San Giuliano Archeological Research project, visit www.sgarp.org.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT THE HONORS COLLEGE AT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
The Honors College at Baylor University unites four innovative interdisciplinary programs – the Honors Program, University Scholars, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and Great Texts – with a shared commitment to providing undergraduate students the opportunity to pursue questions that often fall between the cracks of the specialized disciplines by investigating the writings of scientists along with the writings of poets, historians and philosophers. For more information, visit baylor.edu/honorscollege.