Local Teen Digs Up History in Ireland

Article excerpt

Byline: Sarah Trotto

Mary Cummins of Elmhurst loves going on bizarre summer vacations.

Last summer, the 17-year-old Immaculate Conception High senior spent a week fighting frostbite in the Colorado mountains.

This past summer, she spent two weeks on an archaeological dig in County Clare, Ireland.

"I don't like to sit around during the summer," Cummins said. "I hope to become a well-rounded adult and have many experiences."

She and seven other people, ranging in age from 17 to 55, surveyed and excavated a 5,000-year-old farming family tomb.

"I wanted to go to Ireland, and I needed an excuse to go there," Cummins said. "I was slightly interested in archaeology. I found the program through the Internet."

Cummins and the others - including a high school teacher from Los Angeles, two other teens and several people with degrees in archaeology from Cambridge University and Harvard University - searched through grass and rock which covered the early Neolithic Age to late Bronze Age wall-encircled tomb.

"I didn't like the drawing part of the excavating because I'm not very good at it. But I liked picking up the rocks because you knew underneath there could be anything," Cummins said.

"When I found skull fragments and bone fragments, I thought, 'Wow, this was part of a living thing 5,000 years ago.' "

Among the findings were human and animal bones, and part of a human skull preserved between two large slabs of rock. …