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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Europe - Italy - Vada Volaterrana. A Harbour in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuscany - 2014

Europe - Italy - Vada Volaterrana. A Harbour in the Mediterranean Sea, Tuscany - 2014

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2014-07-06
End Date 2014-07-26

Archaeology Field School Location

Vada, Livorno, Tuscany,Italy

Archaeology Field School Tuition and Credits

Sponsoring College/Institution

Name of institution offering credit: Pisa University

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: 6 Pisa Univ. credits offered (150 hours). The Laboratory of Ancient Topography of the University of Pisa will issue signed certificates for all the activities made during the Field School, specifying type and hours.

Archaeology Field School Tuition


Archaeology Field School Room and Board

Students and staff will stay in a new agritourism, houesd inside a restored tipical Tuscany farmhouse, located in the countryside East of the town of Rosignano Solvay (municipality of Rosignano Marittimo, Leghorn), close to the railway station (2 miles/3,2 km far), the city center (2,2 miles/ 3,5 km far; ) and the beach (3 miles/4,8 km far).
The archaeological site of Vada Volaterrana is about 4,3 miles/7 km South.
Students and staff will stay in appartments with kitchen-living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms for 3-5 persons. Internet access and laundry will be available at the accommodation.
The food will be provided by a local restaurant specialized in Italian cuisine, located close to the excavation (about 4,3 miles/7 km far from the accomodation).
The breakfast, consisting of coffee or cappuccino and pastries, will be consumed at the accommodation; lunch which will be consumed on the excavation (students and staff will be provided with lunch-boxes).
Dinner, consisting of typical Italian courses, will be held at the restaurant (the cost of the summer school includes water; all other drinks are excluded).
Every effort will be made to accommodate students with severe food allergies (nuts, shellfish, etc.); students with severe food allergies are required to communicate their specific dietary restrictions to the field school’s organizers immediately upon admission.
We will try to accomodate individual lifestyles and dietary choices (vegetarianism, veganism, etc.) too.
Meals are provided during weekends, when the field school is not in session.
At request, it will be possible - every three or four days - going shopping; students may communicate staff members what they want to buy.

Archaeology Field School Travel
Students are responsible for arranging their own transportation to Italy.
Additional Information on Tution/Room and Board/Travel Costs

Students will pay support fees in the amount of € 1.920,00 ($ 2.500). These fees will cover trasnports from and to the site, housing, meals, excavation, laboratory equipment, and staff costs, and are payable in full upon admission. There are no application fees, however students are required to pay support fees in full within 2 weeks of admission.

Archaeology Field School Description

A recent GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey allowed us to identify, southward of the area already investigated, the structures of a new building, belonging as well to the same harbour quarter.
In July the excavation of this new building started.
Investigations focused on a rectangular structure of 4x5,3 ??m; although until now a few data have been collected, the very thick walls (90 cm) show its height should be a not negligible one – perhaps to be related to a use as a water tank or a stairwell to upper floors.
In the empty space inside the structure many marble slabs, taken form others building, have been found, together with pottery fragments belonging to local wine amphoras and Tunisian olive oil and fish sauces (like garum) amphoras.
Very close to the big rectangular structure a circular hole, used as a trash-pit, was dug – according to pottery findings - between the Vth and the VIth cent. AD.
The most surprising discovery from the hole is a small clay statue, only 9,5 cm tall; forearms and legs are all actually missing. The statue is finally representing a man, could be used for a family and private cult, representing in fact one of the ancestors (called in latin Lares familiares).
In September the excavation was extended to the Northern sector of the area investigated by GPR survey. The building identified during the July campaign is actually extending to the North, where many walls in many different building techniques several phases of life, to be thoroughly investigated during 2014 excavation. Three rooms whose purpose is not yet known, have been anyway identified.
The Northernmost one is actually the most interesting and puzzling; being characterized by a semi-circular shaped structure a sort of apse – it can be cautiously identified with a small shrine. The chronology of this area and of the three rooms – like in the Southern one – will be better understood since next campaign, when we’ll be able to focus our excavation activity inside each room, digging their full stratigraphical sequence.
In late antiquity (Vth-VIth cent. AD) this sector of the building was used as a necropolis; two tombs, both of them reusing a big amphora for laying the body, have been excavated in the middle of the area. This kind of burial is called enchytrismós.
A few bones allowed us to identify one of them as the burial of a 4-5 years old child.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type


Time Period

Roman imperial age (Ist cent. BC.- VIIth cent. AD.)

Field School Setting/Conditions

The field school will take place in the municipality of Rosignano Marittimo, South of Leghorn (Tuscany). Accomodations area located in the town of Rosignano Solvay, in the same municipality. The closest airports are located in Pisa (PSA) and Florence (FLR), but it may be more cost-effective for students to fly into Rome and take a train to the station of Rosignano Solvay, where staff and students will be housed.
Sunday, July 6 two meeting points will be available, at Pisa Airport (4.00 p.m.) and Rosignano Solvay train station (6.00 p.m.).
Students landed in Florence are suggested to take a train to Pisa Airport.
Students landed in Rome are suggested to take a train to Rosignano Solvay.

How is the project area accessed each day

Staff will have vehicles for transportation of students, materials and supplies to and from the site, as well for any emergency transportation. Staff will be avalaible to students for any request.

What is the daily schedule for the field school

Training students is, together with carrying out scientific researches, the main aim of our project; during three weeks the Summer School’s students will practice with all the different activities an archaeologist usually does into the field and in the lab, from the discovery of a new site until its stratigraphic excavation and study.
The experience we propose will consist of the three following steps:
2.Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) analysis
3.Stratigraphic excavation, consisting of digging on site and related labs (GIS lab, pottery lab)
Students will have 150 hours of lab and field activities, distributed over the course of three weeks:
•Survey (lectures and field activity): 25 hours
•GPR (lectures and field activity): 10 hours
•Excavation (lectures and field activity): 80 hours
•GIS lab: 15 hours
•Pottery lab: 20 hours
Lectures will focus on the history and archaeology of the harbour of Vada Volaterrana and its sorroundings and on archaeological methods, in order to explain students all the kind of activities they will face during the excavation on site.
Lectures will include the visit of the Archaeological Museum of Rosignano, where the most important findings of Vada Volaterrana (e.g. the marble statue of the oriental god Attis) are preserved.
The staff will be available at all times to clarify anything and assist where necessary.

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
1 year
Is there a professional certification for this field school


Directors and Instructors

Scientific Supervisor
Dr. Simonetta Menchelli
Simonetta Menchelli has a BA in Ancient Topography, a PhD in Archaeology and is a Laboratory Technician, Supervisor of the Laboratory of Ancient Topography of the University of Pisa. She is actually Professor in charge of the courses of Ancient Topography at the University of Pisa.
She conducts research in Italy (Tuscany, Liguria, the Marches) and Europe (Corsica, Albania and Hungary).
Her research interests include:
• Archaeological excavations and survey methodology, with the application of non-destructive diagnostic techniques;
• Landscape archaeology;
• The study of ancient buildings, their typologies and construction techniques;
• Documentation methods.
• Ancient pottery, with a specific interest in the archaeometric aspects;
• The archaeology of production, trade and transport systems.
She has presented papers on these topics at national and international conferences, in Italy and abroad and she is a member of various international scientific Associations, participating regularly in their activities.
She is the author of over than 130 works (see:

Excavation Supervisor
Dr. Stefano Genovesi
Classical Archaeologist, collaborator of the Archaeological Superintendences of Tuscany, Liguria and Sardinia.
He got his MA degree at the University of Pisa with a thesis on a late Augustan age shipwreck charged with lead inscribed ingots sunk along the Northern coast of Sardinia.
In 2008 he got his Ph.D. Degree in Ancient History with a thesis concerning the administration of the imperial owned mines between Augustan Age and the end of the 1st century AD and in 2010 he got the Degree of the Archaeological School of Specialization in the University of Pisa, writing a thesis on a Mithras cult shrine excavated in the site of Portus Pisanus (Livorno).
He took part and leaded excavations in archaeological sites of northern Etruria, such as Livorno (area of Portus Pisanus), Cecina (Roman Villa of St. Vincenzino; harbour of Vada Volaterrana), Populonia (Roman villa at Poggio del Molino) and has been in charge of surveys in Tuscany (territories of Pisa and Volterra) and in Sicily (territory of the Greek colony of Heraclea Minoa).
His primary research interests include:
• Archaeology of ancient ports
• Study of Roman pottery, with a specific interest in transport amphoras
• Topographical topics (rural population and settlement, archaeology of production)
• Historical and administrative topics relating to imperial mines

Pottery Lab Supervisor
Dr. Francesca Bulzomì
Classical Archaeologist, she got her BA Degree in Conservation of Cultural Heritage at the University of Cosenza (Calabria), with a thesis on the history and topography of the ancient greek colony of Reghion (today Reggio Calabria). Her MA Degree, got at the University of Pisa, is on an amphora’s kiln dating to late Republican age, located near Leghorn.
She took part in excavations of archaeological sites in Lazio (Veio Campetti) and Northern Tuscany, such as Pisa (ancient ships in San Rossore), Leghorn (Portus Pisanus’ harbour), Cecina (Vada Volaterrana’ harbour; Roman farm of Montebono) and in the University of Pisa’s survey project “Ager Firmanus”, concerning the study of the ancient landscape of the Roman city of Fermo (Marche).
Her primary research interests embraces the following topics:
• Study of metal and glass finds
• Study of Roman pottery, with a specific interest in transport amphoras and common ware
• Common life in the Roman world

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

Field survey
The students taking part the following activities:
-lecture about the theoretical basis of the survey;
-survey of an area surrounding the site of our excavation, looking for new settlements dating to Etruscan and Roman age related to the port settlement.

This GPR lab will consist of two parts: -a lecture in which the basic principles of ground-penetrating radar and its data acquisition methodology will be accurately explained; -field-based activities in which each student will be given the chance to collect data using the devices at our disposal.

During the excavation students will do all the activities an archaeologist normally does:
-recognition of layers;
-documentation of the excavation (written, visual, photos);
-technical relief and structural analysis of walls, paintings and mosaics;
-collecting of findings (pottery, metal objects, bones, stone tools);
-collecting of organic and inorganic samples (seeds, wood, pollen, bones, mortar);
-geological analysis of stone building material, in order to identify the original quarries;
-first steps in the restoration of findings.

The students taking part the following activities:
Into the field:
- taking and recording of zenithal photos of layers and structures
- use of theodolite;
In the lab:
- use of software for the rectification of zenithal photos;
- use of CAD or GIS software for the creation of a topographical draw or a photomosaic.

Pottery lab
Students will be involved in all the lab’s activities:
-washing, labeling and storaging of materials;
-first steps in restoration of mobile artifacts;
-first classification and studying of findings;
-drawing of the most important items.

On rain days will there be lab work?

Any changes about the daily schedule will only be related to weather conditions (rain, etc.).
In case of rain will be carried out workshops (pottey lab; gis lab; drawing lab)and lectures on classical archaeology, study of a a territory and of the method used by the archaeologists.

Will there be additional organized activities?

Lectures and field activities (survey, GPR lab, excavation) will take place daily, since Monday through Friday, between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm, with an hour lunch break. At the end of the working day students will have time to shower and relax. Next appointment will be at 8 for dinner. Every week the Summer School’s activities will break on Friday; Saturday and Sunday are days off. The staff and the participants will meet again at dinner on Sundays.
The weekend could be used for rest or excursions in the sorroundings.
Saturday there will be guided tours, students will be accompanied by archaeologists to visit the archaeological area of Volterra, the Roman villa of St. Vincenzino (municipality of Cecina, Leghorn) and the archaeological museums in the area.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Dr. Stefano Genovesi
staff of Vada Volaterrana Harbour project
phone number +39 3384755644

Field School Contact E-mail:
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