Research Projects

Student Scholarship Recognition Day (SSRD) is held each spring to celebrate the exemplary scholarship and creativity of Willamette University students. Students work directly with faculty members or design and conduct their own research throughout the year.

Featured Projects

Here are a few projects that exemplify the wonderful research students from the Classics department have done over the years.

Abstract: The Neolithic cup-and-ring rock petroglyph motif, present in passage tombs and displayed in open-air rock art throughout Ireland, leads to questions relating to the context of the symbol and the significance of its placement in the landscape. By looking at the passage tombs at the archaeological sites of Newgrange and Loughcrew, both County Meath, Ireland along with the rock art complex of Derrynablaha, Co Kerry, Ireland, this study uses information gathered from the placement of the cup-and-ring motif in these landscapes to reexamine and understand the cultural connections between these sites along with examining this motif in the wider Atlantic rock art tradition.

Kaitlin O'Neill (2015)

Abstract: Earlier numismatic studies have criticized portable X-Ray Fluorescence (pXRF) analysis for characterizing ancient coins because pXRF only analyzes the elemental composition of a coin's surface. Surface corrosion of metals may show a higher percentage of silver or gold on the coin's surface than in its non-corroded interior. The first-ever pXRF analysis of 25 Roman Imperial coins in the McIntyre Collection of the Hallie Ford Museum of Art , Salem, Oregon, however, shows that this technique, even with these limitations, has a number of interesting uses. This study suggests that pXRF is a more useful, analytical tool for providing valuable contextual data in the study of ancient coins than previously thought.

Graham Goodwin (2015)

Abstract: One fascinating phenomenon found among hundreds of Romanesque churches in Europe are sexually explicit erotic statues, known as “the erotic Romanesque.” These frank and shocking images clash with stereotypes of the Middle Ages as a pious, sexually-repressed puritanical time period. The iconography of these sculptures tells a story of how religion, gender, and promiscuity conflicted with and related to each other in the greater frame of medieval sexuality. This research intends to analyze parallels between the medieval perspectives on sexuality found in these images and modern counterparts and to explore the relevance of the medieval in the development of modern sexuality.

Nora Kirsch (2017)

Additional Research Projects

These are all the projects the Classics department has presented at SSRD in the last few years.


  • Between the Holy and the Erotic: Medieval Sexuality and Church Architecture in Spain - Nora Kirsch (Colloquium Grant)


  • Cup-and-Rings: Connections between Passage Tomb Art, Rock Art, and the Landscape of Neolithic Ireland - Kaitlin O'Neill (Independent Research)
  • Elemental Characterization of Roman Imperial Coinage from the Hallie Ford Museum (Salem, Oregon, USA) Using Portable X-ray Fluorescence - Graham Goodwin (Independent Research)
Willamette University

Classical Studies

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