WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Three Whitman College students -- Matt Parker, Josh Maricich and Jack Davey -- spent last summer at ancient archaeological research sites in Jordan

Parker, who graduated from Whitman in May, was on his second archaeological expedition to Jordan. Two summers ago, Parker worked with Gary Rollefson, a visiting assistant professor of anthropology at Whitman. This past summer, Parker excavated with a team from the University of Notre Dame at a site on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.

Meanwhile last summer, Davey and Maricich, members of the Whitman class of 2003, assisted Rollefson in other parts of Jordan. They divided their research between A'in Jammam, about 60 miles north of the Red Sea port of Aqaba, and al-Basit, near the 2,000-year-old city of Petra.

Davey's time in Jordan was financed by Whitman's Perry Research Grant Program, which also funded Parker's work two summers ago. Maricich was supported by an internship.

Rollefson, Davey and Maricich excavated a burial site several hundred years old. They also had the opportunity to analyze stone tools from two 10,000-year-old Neolithic sites.

In addition to their archaeological work, they toured areas of Jordan that are rich in cultural and historical heritage, including Stone Age camps, the Roman city of Jerash, Roman and Islamic "desert castles," Crusader and contemporaneous Islamic fortresses, Nabatean and Roman caravan towns, and the remarkable capital of the Nabateans, the city of Petra, known as the "rose-red city half as old as time."

Rollefson, now in his fifth year at Whitman, has conducted archaeological work in Jordan since 1978. He typically involves students in his work every summer.

Parker hopes to enter Arizona State University's graduate program in archaeology next fall. Both Davey and Maricich are considering graduate work in archaeology after graduation.