Archives for May 2015

Wednesday in Paris

By Rosamond Hoyle

Warding off the jet lag, we started off our Wednesday morning at a little café Rose2next to our hostel, Café des Dames. As we finished up our coffee and croissants, we heard on the news that that evening, President Hollande would be speaking at a ceremony, adding four Resistance fighters’ remains into the Panthéon (a crypt for famous French citizens): Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz, Pierre Brossolette, Germaine Tillion and Jean Zay. (The women’s families did not want their bodies exhumed, so their coffins are symbolic and contain soil from their gravesites.) We were all super excited to be in Paris during such a historical event so we decided to Rose1change our plans for the day and go see the ceremony. As a group of girls, we were particularly interested because the Panthéon only has one other woman (Marie Curie) who was added because of her own merits and it was very special that two new women were being included.

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Miners in (Old) York

By Laura Riegel

Laura in York

Laura Riegel climbing the York Minster

My favorite site that we have visited so far is the York Minster Cathedral, which is a Gothic style building with flying buttresses and a vaulted ceiling. The extra support for the roof allows the walls to hold stained glass windows. There are many spectacular, vibrant windows on all sides of the cathedral.  Some of the windows were the Rose window, Five Sisters, and the Great East Window. Some the windows depicted God, saints, angels, prophets, patriarchs, creation and fall, the Old Testament, St. John, and the book of Revelation. The Great East window is currently being restored and will take a couple of years to complete.

The construction of York Minster started in about the 600s and it was burned down and rebuilt multiple times. It wasn’t until about the 12th century that the Gothic-style church began to be erected. Since the construction continued through different eras, the final design of some parts of the building did not quite line up perfectly. There was an underground crypt where you can see some of the tombs. During the English Reformation, Elizabeth I called for the destruction of the tombs and parts of the cathedral in her effort to destroy the Roman Catholic church.

Laura, York Minster

The York Minster

You can also climb a seemingly never-ending spiral staircase up to the top of the central tower. The view at the top was well worth the extra £5. From the top you can view the whole town of York and many of its historical buildings such as the city walls and Clifford’s Tower, which is the oldest building in York, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century. The wall around the city was first built by the Romans in about 71 A.D., additions were made around 867 when the Danes ruled the area, and the wall was restored in the 12th century.

Laura and gang up the Minster

Magna Carta

By Bryan Widener

Bryan and Tower Bridge_c

Bryan Widener in front of Tower Bridge

England’s history is a long and interesting one. England boasted the most powerful navy in the world for over a century and for centuries was the world’s largest and mightiest empire.  Having the opportunity to see the results of the actions taken by the leaders of such a long-standing world power is as much an honor as it is interesting. [Read more…]

Tuesday in Paris

By Darci Graefser

Today was our second full day as a group in Paris and it was incredible. I was able to view the two monuments I was most excited to see in France, along with the appreciating the artistry of Montmartre, the Place du Tertre, and Sacré Coeur. One of the first things we did this morning was visit the Eiffel Tower. Through the years, I have done a large amount of research on the Eiffel Tower and have become quite interested in it. I knew that the tower itself was huge (over 900 feet tall), but until I saw this beautiful iron monument up close, Darci2I never truly understood just how tall 900 feet felt from ground and sky level. Seeing the Eiffel Tower was an experience of a lifetime for me, something I have dreamed about since I was a little kid. It still feels so surreal that I was able to view the city of Paris from the top of the “Dame de Fer” (“Iron Lady”). After we were finished up with our group touring for the night and were able to break off into smaller groups, three other girls and I went on an adventure to find and see the outside of the Moulin Rouge. The film based on this club has been one of my favorites for years and I have longed to see that legendary red windmill that stands proudly out front of the Moulin Rouge since I first Darci3saw the film. Touring the city today helped me to really appreciate the care in the artistry and architecture that was used when designing each and every building throughout Paris. As I visited two of the highest viewpoints in Paris today, the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré Coeur, I was able to see an astounding overview of the city and see that the shape of each building in the city was in itself a work of art.

Paris-London Challenge: Beat This!

While our London Miners are running from dragons, we are taming them in Paris. So we’ll see your dragon photo,

Paris dragon

and raise you a selfie photo,

selfie challenge

and a photo with a randomly found St. Pat’s object. Alex found this 1991 sweatshirt in a vintage store. Good luck with that one!

St Pats in Paris


Reliquaries and Spoons

Written by Madison Morris:

I’ve been outside the United States a few times, but I have never been to London.  The first day here was such a culture shock!! Not only were people driving on the wrong side of the road, but everything was so busy! People were rushing everywhere, and Dr. Bruening’s walk around to help us figure out “the lay of the land’ only made me shocked. London is so incredibly huge and absolutely awe inspiring. On the mini tour alone I saw buildings that predated our country’s birth. So far we have visited the Tower of London, the British Library, the British Museum, the city of York, and Westminster Abbey. All of the locations house so much history. Being here is amazing and all of the interesting things we’ve learned in the short time is great.

Madi and Beefeaters_c

Madi Morris with the Yeoman Warders

I’ve seen so many cool things since I’ve been here. Every place that we’ve been to has been full of history dating back as far as the 9th century. At the Tower of London I saw the crown jewels, and I was blown away by not only their size and beauty, but by how old they were. The Coronation Spoon that they had on display thought to date from the 14th century!! Not only was it gorgeous and filled with rich gemstones, but it was delicately and intricately carved with beautiful designs. I was really shocked that it will not only still be used in future coronation ceremonies, but it literally cost more than my car. I was able to see something eight hundred years old, absolutely gorgeous, and really important that I would never have been able to see if I hadn’t been in London on this trip.

Also, when we visited the British Museum I was able to see something called the Holy Thorn Reliquary. This reliquary [a reliquary is a container, often quite ornate, for holding holy relics] was made in the late fourteenth century, and contains a thorn that was believed to be from the crown of thorns on Jesus’ head during his crucifixion. I was amazed that you could actually see this tiny thorn inside the reliquary; not only that, but it was sitting on top of a sapphire the size of a dime. The reliquary is very important because it not only shows the importance of Christianity to medieval England, but it shows how much this item was appreciated since it has lasted this long. The reliquary is absolutely gorgeous, and being able to see such an important artifact to not only Christianity but also medieval London was amazing.

All of these experiences have been amazing, and I’m really glad I decided to come on this trip! I’ve seen more history in the last week than I’ve probably seen in the last ten years, and that’s a really weird concept to wrap my head around. This trip was a great decision, and I’m so excited to have another week not only to learn more about London, but also to see the city.

The Bahamas Trip Wrap Up and the San Salvador Water Problem

Tuesday morning we ate our final breakfast at the Gerace Research Center.  We headed to the airport with Georgia College and flew to Nassau with them, and there I said goodbye to my classmates, to my friends.  Many of us on the trip graduated a few days prior to our trip, so this blog post is really my last act as a student at Missouri S&T.  We’re all grateful for the opportunity to have such an amazing trip, led by the incomparable Dr. Wronkiewicz. It was a blast from the first day (cave picture) to the last (beach picture).

 Final Lab Group Pic at Beach

We have done a lot while on the island, from the inland lake studies to the coral reefs, but one of the aspects of this class that was the most striking was the lack of water. Freshwater has disappeared from San Salvador Island due to overuse of the resource. The arrival of Club Med in 1994, along with the rise in population in Cockburn Town led to over-pumping, with pump rates increased by 400%. One way we see this is with the blue hole on the island lacking the freshwater lens it historically possessed.  These types of studies using blue holes as well as sea level proxies can tell us about the past environment and help to predict the future. A couple of students, including myself, looked at the biology and paleontology of the island to see how the geology may have affected the biology.  A lot of people just think of mining and oil when they think geology, but this trip really shows that geology is incredibly useful in environmental studies, too!


It has been an incredible trip, and I would urge anyone who has taken a single geology class to look out for Geology 4841 this upcoming spring, as Dr. Wronk always teaches an amazing class, and travel, wherever it may be, is always an opportunity that should be taken advantage of!

Paris-London Challenge: Here Be Dragons

While our friends in Paris just seem to be jumping around like maniacs, we are dealing with some very serious stuff here at the Tower of London:



But thanks to the Yeoman Warders (or “Beefeaters”), we all made it out alive.


Paris-London Challenge


Our Paris group is having a fantastic time. Students will be posting their impressions of the city beginning in the next day or two, but in the meantime, we want to throw out a challenge to our London Miners group, led by Dr. Michael Bruening, to come up with one or more group photos as awesome as these: 20150525_184440

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Arrival in London

For the next couple of weeks, I am leading a summer course in London on the History of Medieval and Renaissance England.  There are nine students enrolled in the course, eight of them from Missouri S&T.  They are majoring in everything from Petroleum Engineering to Biology to History.  Over the next few weeks, they will be sharing their experiences in London on this blog.

All of the students have now arrived in London.  Yesterday, when most of them arrived, we walked all over London, to give them a glimpse of some of the best known sites in the city… and to keep them awake after their (mostly sleepless) overnight flights.  We ended the day with a well-deserved traditional “English roast” meal, which was followed by some excellent live Irish music in the restaurant.

Students (l-r): Bryan Widener, Crystal Ford, Evan Carroll, Hayley Carroll, Madison Morris, and Audrey Hofherr

Students (l-r): Bryan Widener, Crystal Ford, Evan Carroll, Hayley Carroll, Madison Morris, and Audrey Hofherr

This morning the class started in earnest.  Much of the course will be focused on visits to sites that either date from the Middle Ages and Renaissance or contain objects from the period.  Today, we went to the British Library, which has many priceless manuscripts and books on display, including the sole surviving manuscript of Beowulf and one of the illustrated Gutenberg Bibles.  The library also currently has a special exhibit on the Magna Carta, whose 800th anniversary is this year, including two of the four surviving original manuscripts from 1215.

Remaining site visits will include the British Museum, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, Hampton Court, out-of-town visits to Oxford and York, and a performance of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice at the rebuilt Globe Theatre.  Stay tuned!

– Professor Michael Bruening