Topic ID #36157 - posted 9/21/2015 5:03 AM

2016 AIRC Summer Archaeological Field School at Ostia Antica, Rome (Italy)


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The American Institute for Roman Culture’s Summer Archaeological Field School is an intensive, accredited five-week educational program in Roman archaeology led by AIRC faculty and affiliated expert archaeologists. The program offers students a unique combination of (1) one week of specialized academic instruction on the topography and development of Rome, including visits to major museums and open-air sites to augment field studies and provide participants with a broader context of what life was like in the ancient city, and (2) four weeks of hands-on fieldwork at an important archaeological site in the city and environs. In 2016 the program will be held from June 6 through July 10 and will take place at Ostia Antica, the harbor city of ancient Rome.

AIRC is seeking 40 participants for the second campaign of an exciting new multi-year project at Ostia Antica, the harbor city of ancient Rome. The project will take place in the Parco dei Ravennati, a public greenspace situated between the main archaeological site of Ostia and the Medieval borgo with the imposing Renaissance castle built by Pope Julius II. In collaboration with the City of Rome and the Special Superintendency for the Archaeological Heritage of Rome, and under the direction of principal investigators Dr. Darius Arya (AIRC Executive Director) and Dr. Michele Raddi (archaeologist and topographer, AIRC associate), who have obtained the excavation permit from the Italian Ministry of Culture, the AIRC project will clean, excavate, and document two areas of the park:


Area A consists of an Imperial Roman structure in opus mixtum, part of which was redecorated in Late Antiquity with frescoes and an elaborate opus sectile (cut polychrome marble) floor; the opus sectile room was subdivided into a series of smaller rooms in the Middle Ages. Behind this space lies a vaulted structure with double apse and a niche on the southwest side, partially investigated in the 1970s, dating to the 15th century and probably associated with the construction of the castle at the edge of the borgo. Exploratory work in 2012 revealed re-use of these spaces as recently as the Second World War.


Area B consists of a well-preserved stretch of a Roman road—likely the last major phase of the Via Ostiensis dating to the early Middle Ages—flanked by a small circular Late Republican mausoleum built in cement and travertine. In Late Antiquity the core of the mausoleum was converted into an octagonal structure, and in the Middle Ages it was re-used again as a place of burial.


The experience will include the following didactic aspects to which all participants will be exposed, all under the supervision of experienced professionals:

  • strategy, techniques, and methods of stratigraphic archaeology, including pre-excavation topographic research and cleaning/defoliation;
  • detailed architectural and functional study of the exposed remains involving both the traditional (hand-drawn) method and the latest technology (photogrammetry, total station, and CAD software);
  • cleaning, analysis/classification, and documentation of all classes of artifacts;
  • photographic documentation of artifacts, standing remains, and archaeological stratigraphy using digital cameras;
  • the history and physical condition of the site and approaches to conserving it for future generations.

See also:


Other Information

The project runs from Monday through Friday, 8:00-4:30. The typical working schedule is:

8:00 arrival at site
8:00-8:30 set-up

8:30-10:00 work 
10:00-10:15 snack (cookies and fruit) 
10:15-12:00 work 
12:00-1:00 lunch
1:00-4:00 work

4:00-4:30 break-down


Ostia Antica is conveniently reached from downtown Rome via a 25-minute commute on the Roma-Ostia Lido train line, which departs every 15 minutes from a dedicated station connected to the Piramide metro stop. In order to reach Ostia Antica by 8:00, participants must catch the 7:30 train. The same train line can be used to get to the beach at Ostia Lido during free time and weekends.


Selection Criteria
here are no pre-requisites, and no knowledge of archaeology or Italian is expected—only a desire to get dirty and learn about Roman civilization. Prior archaeological experience and coursework are welcome.  

NOTE: This program is physically rigorous and requires long hours in conditions that can make the experience both physically and mentally challenging.

Educational Requirements
Whether you’re a postgraduate or undergraduate, archaeology or art history or anthropology major, or simply someone interested in learning more about the field of archaeology, this program provides an exciting and unique opportunity for a first-hand look at archaeological fieldwork at a one-of-a-kind Roman site.    


Course Text
None. A packet of course notes and a custom manual will be provided.


Project bibliography
A very thorough bibliography on Ostia Antica is available here.


Program Cost and Details

US$4450 Covers tuition, housing in the historic center of Rome in shared apartments with other program participants (wi-fi connection included), public transportation within the city of Rome and between Rome and Ostia, entry fees for archaeological sites and museums visited during the first week, printed materials, welcome and farewell dinners, and transcript with 3 hours of credit from California State University, Fresno.

Lunch and a snack are provided on-site every day. All other meals are at the participant’s expense.


Due date: March 31, 2016.  After March 31 a late fee ($100) will be assessed. The last date for accepting late applications is April 15, 2016. Interested persons are encouraged to apply early, since space is limited and participants are accepted on a rolling basis as applications are completed and reviewed.

The program application consists of:

  • a one-page (600-800 words) essay describing your interest in Rome, your interest in the AIRC Summer Archaeological Field School, and how participation is expected to contribute to your education/development, in a standard text format (.rtf, .doc/.docx, .pdf);
  • one letter of recommendation from a professor, supervisor, or employer who has worked with you, in a standard text format (.rtf, .doc/.docx, .pdf - the letter must be sent by the recommender);
  • a copy of your curriculum vitae/resume including relevant coursework taken (in Classics, art history, history, archaeology, and anthropology), interests, and skills, in a standard text format (.rtf, .doc/.docx, .pdf);
  • brief phone or Skype interview with AIRC project staff.

All inquiries and application documents should be submitted to: studyabroad[at] AND albert[at] 


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