• Name: Paul McLerran
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Saving Rome: The Villa delle Vignacce Summer Field School

Can You See Yourself Saving Rome?

By "saving" one means uncovering and preserving its ancient remains, of course. Program Director Dr. Darius A. Arya and Co-Directors Dr. Dora Cirone and Dr. Albert Prieto of the American Institute for Roman Culture Summer Archaeology Field School will be conducting a six week intensive field school in Roman archaeology. The field school will be conducted from June 19, 2010 through July 31, 2010 and offers students a unique combination of 5 weeks of on-site field work and one week of specialized academic instruction by expert archaeologists and institute professors. As the program centers in Rome, there will also be visits to major Roman museums and open-air sites to augment field studies and to provide participants with a broader context of what life was like in Ancient Rome.

Participants will be given the opportunity to develop their archaeological techniques at the ongoing excavation and preservation of an important Roman site, the Villa delle Vignacce (a large Roman villa). In its fifth season of exploration, students will work with professional archaeologists to explore and preserve an important second century AD villa located within Rome’s famed Park of the Aqueducts. During the previous season, the excavation team's efforts were highlighted by the discovery of impressive statuary and marble veneer decoration. Among the finds was a 1.5 long marble statue of Marsyas, discovered resting horizontally on mosaic pavement, still attached to it's marble tree brace. According to a well-known Roman myth, Marsyas challenged Apollo to a music contest, lost, and as punishment was bound to a tree and flailed alive. The statue that was discovered depicts Marsyas in the midst of this punishment.

The 2010 Field School

This summer, field school excavations will continue to uncover more of Ville delle Vignacce’s imperial bath complex, while working to examine and preserve the caldarium, latrine and an apodyterium with marble veneer and glass paste mosaics and vaulting discovered during previous field seasons. As a large and expanding project, the Ville delle Vignacce investigations are proving to be one of the city’s most exciting new excavations and has recently garnered international press attention as one of Ancient Rome’s “At Risk” archaeological sites, threatened as the result of previous neglect and vandalism.

Participants will also explore both the urban development and the material culture of Rome from the 1st- 6th century A.D., investigating in detail many diverse aspects of Ancient Roman civilization. Through the examination of material evidence, so abundant in Lazio, program participants will have ample opportunity to learn from archaeological evidence as well as the many historical monuments and world heritage sites located in the area. Through this field school, participants will:

  • Learn the importance of archaeological record-keeping, including the proper methodology of conducting excavations, archaeological drawing, note-taking, and identifying, organizing and cataloging finds;
  • Become familiar with a variety of Roman artifacts and building techniques and materials, and learn how to "read" art, architecture, and other vestiges of material culture;
  • Learn more about ancient Rome and its archaeological record; and
  • Learn more about historic preservation.

This season's program aims to provide participants with both a chronological and diachronic approach to the study of Roman civilization. In this way, students will gain a comprehensive historical and cultural perspective of Roman civilization, and an understanding of and appreciation for how its cultural values influenced the entire western world up to the present day.


Ville delle Vignacce3


All prospective student participants and volunteers are encouraged to go to the website for additional information about the opportunity and how to apply. Saving Rome couldn't be more fun and exciting!

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Tel Dor: Archaeological Riches by the Sea

About 30 kilometers directly south of Haifa, Israel, lies a very large tel (an earth mound containing ancient architectural and artifact remains) that tells a story crossing at least eight civilizations. The story is largely a commercial one, as the ancient seaport city of Dor on the Mediterranean coast of present day Israel was host to the trading activities of a number of civilizations or cultures that ringed the Mediterranean world in ancient times. Once a Canaanite city, its history spans settlement or rule by "Sea Peoples", Phoenicians, the Solomonic monarchy, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Finally, in the thirteenth century A.D., a Crusader castle was built on the site. Few sites of the ancient world can boast a settlement history more varied and complex than this.

The 2011 Excavation Season

From June 28 to August 5, excavations will resume at Dor under the direction of Ilan Sharon (the Hebrew University) and Ayelet Gilboa (Haifa University). The areas under investigation consist of an elite Iron Age I section that includes a large complex (possibly a palace or administrative building); further evidence of early Iron Age destruction; the Hellenistic city and large Iron Age Phoenician public structures; and other Persian and Iron Age layers, which include remnants of an Assyrian fort. Work will include the analysis of finds and stratigraphy at the site museum. The season will afford students and volunteers the opportunity to participate in all facets of state-of-the-art field archaeology. This will include excavation, digital registration of architecture and artifacts using advanced graphics and database software, sampling and analysis of deposits, analysis of finds and stratigraphy, and site conservation. Participants may arrange for academic credit (formal field school instruction) through the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University. Students in this program will receive academic instruction in archaeological field methods and theory, the processing and analysis of material excavated each day, and afternoon lectures on archaeology, history, and specialized studies of the site and region.

There is no doubt that the Tel Dor excavation is considered to be one of the most exciting excavations in this part of the world, as history and archaeology at this location are exceptionally rich and the location boasts beautiful views of the bay and ocean!

Join The Team

Don't just read about history. Help make a difference -- feel it, discover it, and make it a part of you. You can learn more about the project and the application procedure by going to the website at http://dor.huji.ac.il/.

Contact Information:

eblochsm@sju.edu, or

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