Topic ID #36559 - posted 1/7/2016 2:28 AM

Early medieval church in the Basque Country, Spain


Location: Bidania-Goiatz, Gipuzkoa, Basque Country, Spain

Session dates: 

June 13th, 2016 to July 10th, 2016

Application Deadline: 

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Program Type

Field school


Albaola: The Sea Factory of Basques

Project Director:

Iosu Etxezarraga

Project Description

In early summer of this year 2016 a new season of archaeology fieldwork will be accomplished in Bidania, Basque Country (Spain). A small team of archaeologists are digging a medieval countryside settlement. This will be our 6th year and we are eager to give foreign students and graduated researchers the chance to learn basque archaeology and, in general, to dig an example of a Early medieval church and graveyard in the North of Spain.

Past seasons we identified a full sequence of, at least, 4 religious buildings – made in different materials and forming different structures- and also 3 levels of a medieval graveyard surrounding the temple (8th to 13th).

Early medieval archaeology in the Cantabric basque provinces is still on its beginnings and the findings we have done in this site called San Pedroburu are really important to explain how the peopling of the territory could change (or not) in Late Antiquity and Middle Ages. In addition, we know the church became just a shrine in 13th or 14th century, so the site can also give as information about the way settlement changed in this area in Late Middle Ages.

Who are we looking for? We welcome History, Archaeology, Anthropology and even Medicine or Forensic Science students. Experience is not required but appreciated. We can speak in Basque, Spanish, English and some French. We would like to work with responsible, curious, respectful and easy-going people, as I think we are.

What would you learn digging with us? If you are a student with no field experience, you will get basic procedures in an open area excavation: how to dig and how to record archaeological information. In this site you would find neither monumental remains nor rich artifacts: you will learn how to identify remains of perishable structures andartifacts (pottery, nails, buckles and other clothing stuff, coins, etc.).

This sites main strength is the abundance of pottery in the oldest layers (very fragmented and quite primitive) and difficulties in identifying and individualizing layers. These features make San Pedroburu site a perfect place to train in archaeological fieldwork.

This season our main goal will be digging the whole graveyard area, so we will accept Medicine 
students that would like to train in Anatomy or even in Forensic Science and physical/biological

Other activities: Albaola Sea Factory is building a 16th century basque whaling ship –called ‘nao’-: an exact replica of the first transoceanic ships built in the Basque Country. The remains of the nao ‘San Juan’, sank off in Red Bay, Canada, in 1565, were found in 1978 and measured, recorded and analyzed during several years. You will be able to discover how a Modern Age ship was built, why and how basque people crossed the Ocean and, also, to see the faithful replica being constructed.

 Moreover, you will visit main milestones in the History of basque province of Gipuzkoa, for example, the house where St. Ignatius was born and the Jesuit basilica built around, the town where Juan Sebastian Elcano was born (the navigator who completed the first circumnavigation), and more.

But there will be time to have fun. San Sebastian is a nice place to spend summer. This year this city will be the European Capital of Culture. There will be art and concerts, beaches and enjoyment. San Sebastian is also one hour away from Pamplona.

Accomodation: It will depend on the people that applies. This feature is going to be set up in the next months. There are two chances: a small dwelling with bunk beds, kitchen, fridge, shower,… in a small town 15km away from San Sebastian; or a hostel in the city, 3-4 or 5-6 bed rooms, kitchen optional, washing machine,… .  Check with us your preferences.


Period(s) of Occupation: Early Middle Ages – Modern (8th to the 18th centuries AD)



Christianization, parish, Middle Ages, perishable structures.


Project size: 

1-8 participants


Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Complete three week season


Minimum age: 18

Experience required: Experience in archaeological excavation a plus, but not required.



€ 700 (tuition is cheaper now, because we have found an alternative source of funds).

Accomodation and weekday meals are included. Transportation from accommodation to the site is included too.


Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: Check with us.




Iosu Etxezarraga


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