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Archaeology Researcher Found Dead in Turkey

PhD candidate apparently died in fall

Chad DiGregorio

Photo by Michael Hamilton

A third-year PhD student working on an archaeological dig in western Turkey was found dead Thursday morning, apparently the victim of a fall in a rugged area of hills and caves in the province of Manisa. Chad DiGregorio, 26, reportedly set out alone on his day off in search of artifacts that would support his research. His body was found by a police search party.

Willis Wang, a BU vice president and associate provost, said DiGregorio’s colleagues in the Central Lydia Archaeological Survey, a university research project, notified local police on Wednesday evening, after he failed to show up for a group dinner. Wang said fellow researchers managed to hack into DiGregorio’s personal computer to find the GPS location of his cell phone, which led searchers to the countryside one hour from the project’s base in the village of Tekelioğlu.

DiGregorio’s thesis adviser, College of Arts & Sciences professor of archeology Curtis Runnels, said the loss of his student was incalculable. “Chad was the best and most promising young archaeologist that I know, with a passionate interest in the Paleolithic archaeology of the Mediterranean world,” he said. “He had tremendous enthusiasm for his chosen field, which was kindled by the work we did together in Crete that led to the discovery of early seafaring and is helping to rewrite the early prehistory of humankind. His sharp intelligence and inquiring mind, coupled with his great energy, discipline, and drive, would have propelled him to the top of the field. His loss is incalculable in personal terms for his family and many loving friends, but it is also a devastating loss for science.”

Jean Morrison, university provost and chief academic officer, said the death of the young scholar was heartbreaking. “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Chad DiGregorio in this tragic accident,” she said. “His family is first and foremost in our thoughts.”

Mary Beaudry, chair of the archaeology department, said the professors and students in the department were devastated. “Chad was one of our most promising students,” she said. “He was bright, personable, dedicated to the archaeological study of the first humans who occupied the Mediterranean region. Untimely is inadequate as a word to express how greatly his passing constitutes a loss to his family, friends, and colleagues, as well as to the field of archaeology.”

The Central Lydia Archaeological Survey is a seven-year-old interdisciplinary study of the ancient cultures of Lydia, in the western part of what is now Turkey. Funded by the National Science Foundation as well as private donations, it is the first comprehensive archaeological project of its kind in Lydia, and it explores the ways people adapted to environmental and landscape constraints. Led by Christopher H. Roosevelt, a CAS associate professor of archaeology and Christina Luke, a CAS senior lecturer in the archaeology and anthropology departments, it attracts graduate student researchers for summer-long study projects. This year’s cohort included six BU students as well as students from several other schools.

DiGregorio is a native of Upton, Mass. Funeral arrangements are pending. BU Today will provide those details when they become available.

Art Jahnke

Art Jahnke can be reached at jahnke@bu.edu.

22 Comments on Archaeology Researcher Found Dead in Turkey

  • Anonymous on 07.20.2012 at 6:59 am

    I can’t believe this. He was the most handsome TA I’ve ever had at BU. He was amazing at conducting a class and his passion at archaeology was so invigorating.
    I pray that he rests in peace and I extend my condolences to his family and friends.
    This is a huge loss.

  • C Harika on 07.20.2012 at 8:54 am

    Very sorry to hear this. May his souls rest in peace. Condolences to the family.

  • Alexa on 07.20.2012 at 9:00 am

    I’m still in shock. Chad is one of the best TAs I’ve ever had in BU. He made an incredibly hard subject easy and interesting. He was always personable. RIP Chad. You will be missed.

  • Jun Il on 07.20.2012 at 9:38 am

    Rest in peace Chad. You were one of the nicest TF I ever had. My condolences.

  • FBKing on 07.20.2012 at 9:54 am

    This is devastating news. As a former BU anthropology graduate, I’m familiar with the passion of young scholars in anthro and archaeo. And while I didn’t know Chad personally, I certainly know what value a committed young person like Chad brought to CAS and the entire university. I offer my deep condolences to his family, and to the entire department.

  • Dani on 07.20.2012 at 10:19 am

    This is such a shock… When I saw his photo in my email I assumed he was having a spotlight article on his work… not this. He is a large part of why I took up Archaeology as a minor. He made everything make sense and a lot of fun. He seemed like such a sweet, handsome, young man. Such a loss. My condolences go out to his friends, family, and colleagues.

  • Anonymous on 07.20.2012 at 10:55 am

    Very sad news. I grew up in his neighborhood, and he was always a great guy. Condolences to his family and friends.

  • BU Senior on 07.20.2012 at 11:39 am

    Although I did not know Chad, I am sorry for his family’s loss. I find, “PhD candidate apparently died in fall” to be very disrespectful and think the author should strongly consider changing it.

    • BU Senior on 07.20.2012 at 12:51 pm

      Not to mention, the word “apparently” is just bad journalism

  • Rishi on 07.20.2012 at 11:43 am

    Amazing TA and great person. RIP Chad. Condolences to all his family and friends.

  • Lauren on 07.20.2012 at 12:10 pm

    BU has had far too much loss this year. May Chad rest in peace. Thinking of everyone close to him.

  • anonymous on 07.20.2012 at 1:14 pm

    I usually never read BU today, but for some reason today I clicked on the link in my email. This was beyond shocking news. Chad was the most inspiring, knowledgeable, and personable ta I have had in my experience at BU. I know he is in a better place now, he was such an extraordinary guy. My best wishes to his friends and family. RIP

  • Alvaro Carvajal on 07.20.2012 at 1:30 pm

    It´s terrible. My prayers are with his family and colleagues of BU.

  • Ksenija Borojevic on 07.20.2012 at 2:57 pm

    I could not believe the devastating news! Chad was one of the best graduate students BU Archaeology Department had. He was such an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and skillful young person. It was the ease of doing things that impressed me the most. There was not a task he could not find a solution for. He was such a resourceful person who could investigate, write well, edit, draw, photograph… drive a car, ride a motorcycle… But above all, Chad had such a great personality – always in action and in good spirits. It must have been his exploratory mind and adventurous nature that drove him to this dangerous spot where he lost his young life. He will be dearly missed. My deepest condolences to his family, girlfriend, and all of us who had a privilege of knowing Chad. May he rest in peace.

    Ksenija Borojevic, Assistant Professor

  • anonymous on 07.20.2012 at 3:20 pm

    There is no doubt in my mind that Chad was going to be an amazing archeologist and professor. He inspired me as my TF, and it breaks my heart to know that future archeology students won’t get the chance to learn from such a passionate, knowledgeable, and nice person. RIP Chad.

  • Anna Ta on 07.20.2012 at 4:26 pm

    I barely have any words to describe how I’m feeling. Chad was a great TF to me in Archeology, and its obvious that I’m not the only one who thinks so. He really made archeology fun, especially to someone who was only taking the class to fulfill requirements. He was the only TF that made me want to come to Office Hours. I really wish this didn’t happen to Chad. But I hope he can rest in peace.

  • Julie on 07.20.2012 at 6:33 pm

    To “anonymous”: “the better place” you refer to is actually in his family’s arms.
    To Chad’s family: I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m also a bereaved parent of a former BU student who actually would be Chad’s age. I know your pain and I’m so sorry. You have a long road ahead of you. Take care…one step at a time.

  • Nathan Orsi on 07.20.2012 at 7:13 pm

    Very sad news. I never got the chance to meet him, but he sounds like an amazing person, and a great archaeologist. Thoughts and prayers going out.

  • Dr. Rebecca Mersereau on 07.20.2012 at 7:50 pm

    Chad was a friend and colleague of whom I was especially fond; we worked together last summer on Crete. He was extremely bright, had a highly engaging personality, inquisitive mind, and was a real go-getter. It is a huge loss for his friends and family, of course, but also for the archaeology community at large.

  • kursat utku on 07.21.2012 at 1:31 pm

    I am one of the strategists of Chad’s search an rescue team AKUT which is a member of INSARAG. First of all we are very sorry for your loss. When he lost his life in our country, he became a brother of ours too. We search the field about 50 rescuers, scout leaders, climbers, gendarms but we could not give you a good news. I can not give more details about the operation but I can say that there was nothing to do.. again we are sorry for your loss.we believe that he is with Allah now.
    RIP Chad.

    Kürşat Utku SATIOĞLU

  • PC_Friend on 07.25.2012 at 2:43 pm

    Chad, we had a lot of fun at PC and you were such a cutie… I can’t believe you are gone, I hope you didn’t suffer. :'(
    I planned on visiting you at BU…
    See you in another life.
    Rest in peace.

  • Tom Teager on 07.30.2012 at 4:11 pm

    I just heard today from a mutual friend on Chad’s passing. I still cannot believe what I am reading. Words cannot express the sadness I am feeling for his family and for the loss of such a promising life cut so short. I coached Chad for many years and have many fond memories of all the times we spent on the soccer field. He was always a pleasure to coach and will be sorely missed. Our family’s thoughts and prayers are with his family.

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