Of grave interest

USC Leonard Davis students traveled across Italy and Germany for a course exploring how ancient burial practices inform modern-day approaches to life and death (Photo by Lorenzo Gabriel Pasia)

Centuries-old skeletons, mummies, crypts and cemeteries were all on the itinerary as USC Leonard Davis students traveled across Italy and Germany for a course exploring how ancient burial practices inform modern-day approaches to life and death. For Associate Professor Susan Enguídanos, these seemingly
spooky relics are actually symbols of comfort, faith, tradition and hope.

“Seeing the care that societies take in honoring their dead shows us the importance of remembering, reinforces the continuity of life and connects us to cultures different from our own,” she said. Attendee Erin Martin MASM ’17 found inspiration in the well-preserved remains of the Copper Age hunter known as Ötzi, the Iceman. “He challenges our limited beliefs about aging. Anything is possible,” she said.

She also found more modern inspiration in the trip’s freshly prepared foods, walkable streets and afternoon siestas. “My experience exposed me to a vast history of aging and to another world of living that broadened my perspective in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without my being there,” she said.

Learning from history and from others. That captures the spirit of this spirited trip. No bones about it.