Ryan Poloncarz

Ryan is the resident “Rock Man” of Castelleraccio. He acts as a keystone player both at the Castle site and within the larger IMPERO Team, always doing the heavy lifting at the end of the “stone-throwing chain” and providing assistance wherever needed. This supportive role which Ryan plays—he would rather be the crucial last link than the one pickaxing under the spotlight and cheers of others—aligns with what draws him to the field of archaeology in general. The twenty-year-old Anthropology with a focus in Archaeology and future Mediterranean Archaeology major at the University at Buffalo revels in his ability to remain a separate yet a vital part of a larger team when he is excavating. He keeps to his own area unless called upon for certain tasks, and he appreciates being able to clean and complete his space at his own pace and largely under his own terms.

Even though he has prior experience in working independently, cutting trees, and wielding a pickaxe from working for the Parks Department in Buffalo, all jobs feel far less rewarding for Ryan than being an excavator with the privilege to touch history with his own two hands. Learning about history, although it is a passion of his, was not enough for Ryan, and thus he pursued his majors to be able to interact with historical artifacts on a truly intimate level. In this same vein, this student also adores and considered pursuing paleontology and video game design, the former of which involves tangibly uncovering the living past and the latter of which implies a tangible construction of a future world. In either case, the dynamic nature of archaeology—Ryan even regards varying pottery shards as fresh and new—and the primacy of Ryan’s attraction for the field led the lover of learning to pursue the world of excavations as a career.

Within his future excavation settings, Ryan hopes to continue to interact with medieval structures and settings as he is doing now at the Monteverdi Field School. He is drawn toward Norse studies and excavations in general, and this academic passion translates to the world of his hobbies. He misses the world of noble battle by the sword and experiences that world through video games and through model weapons; for example, his favorite weapon is the Medieval Viking sword Ulfberht, and although he does not have one himself, he has a replica Viking axe. He is attracted to speculative, historical, and fantasy-based video games and enjoys placing himself within these alternate worlds as an integral part of them, not just an observer—even writing his own lore book for the Elder Scrolls games. Similarly, Ryan can always be found constructing stories out of his day-to-day activities and social interactions.

Another of the many attractions of archaeology for Ryan is the ability to experience the cultures of others. The IMPERO Project provides for the Ryan the ability to experience daily the wholly different lifestyles and cultures of our international team, local hosts, and community members. His mind is always on the perspectives and circumstances of others, even for those of the past—archaeology not only draws Ryan due to the opportunity of meeting differing peoples, but the field also provides the chance to imagine how people in the past might have lived without everything we have today.

Text by: Elisabeth Woldeyohannes

Photo by: Riley James

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