The IMPERO Team welcomed Josef the gentle giant after we were well into our excavations and team bonding, yet his warm and jovial personality allowed the twenty-nine-year-old Charles University in Prague student to insert himself immediately into the fabric of the project. He describes himself as being like a rabbit, a content, stationary, and relaxed animal that he adores, and he is even known at Monteverdi for his adorable cartoon rabbit T-shirts—and this easy-going nature directs the course of his professional life. In fact, Josef never pictured a future in archaeology. He knew only his passions for technology and aviation and strove to find a career in which these drives could coexist. Josef first tried to find this unity in his original university major, Transportation Sciences but quickly discovered the field was not for him. Searching for direction, he researched many possible career paths in which he could both fulfill his desire for unity and feel needed by both the field and his peers. Coming upon a book on the topic, Josef quickly realized that the field of archaeology was calling to him. Now, after being a part of several excavations, the tech enthusiast has found his niche where he feels needed—a feeling that embodies Josef’s professional and personal goals.
As someone who enjoys his space, operating drones for aerial pictures, photogrammetry, and creating 3D reconstructions—while still lending a physical helping hand to the excavators in the trenches—allow Josef to do what he loves on his own terms while retaining intimacy and a sense of comradery with his colleagues. His self-taught specialization does not isolate him, but rather enhances the quality of his interpersonal connections—a fact that is framed by the team’s first reaction to him on site crowded around to watch the drone take off. Just as he first befriended Dr. Sebastiani at a bar after the professor had given a lecture in Prague, contacting him years later for a collaborative opportunity that led to Josef’s work with the professor in Alberese and to his position on the IMPERO Project Team, and just as Josef met Dr. Fenton for the first time in a similar way, this vital team member strives to forge professional relationships out of moments of friendship. He believes that this approach makes collaboration friendlier, more relaxed, and renders the end products of such collaboration easier to achieve; beyond excavation, Josef and his friends unite the personal and professional in the same way, meeting at the bar three times a week after lectures to put their minds together in an energized and creative space.
In this same vein, Josef believes that being in tune with our environments is absolutely crucial. He not only cares about the identification of plants and insects in the wild and respecting the contexts of the people he meets, even adding Italian to his arsenal of languages to better communicate with his colleagues and their communities, but this soft yet witty and fun-loving soul also aims to change archaeology’s relationship to the environment on a fundamental scale. In Josef’s mind, preservation is key; he works in a museum where this concept is practiced daily with artifacts removed from their original positions, but he hopes that one day, the majority of these items will not be removed at all. With technological advancement and increasing environmental consciousness, Josef imagines the eventual disappearance of destructive excavation techniques in favor of Georadar digital reconstruction, and he believes that his line of work will help lead the field of archaeology into the future.
Text by: Elisabeth Woldeyohannes
Photo by: Riley James