ZoritaCastle. Archaeology & Osteology

Location: West Hartford, United States

June 30, 2018 to July 20, 2018

Session dates: 
June 30- July 20 3 weeks

Application Deadline: 
Friday, June 15, 2018

Deadline Type: 

Flyer: PDF icon zorita_castle.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



ArchaeoSpain Castilla-La Mancha Regional Government

Project Director:

Dr. Dionisio Urbina Dr Catalina Urquijo

Project Description

​​Zorita Castle perches on a plateau overlooking the tiny village of Zorita de los Canes. It sits on the banks of the Spain's longest river: The Tagus. The castle once controlled one of the three only bridges that crossed the river. Slightly smaller than an international football pitch, the original fortress was built by armies from North Africa during the Moorish and Berber conquest of Spain. For the foundations, the builders looted the stonework from the nearby ruins of the Visigothic city of Recópolis.
The Castle History. 
Between the 9th and 13th centuries, Zorita Castle thrived as a focal point for commerce and military adventures during the wars to take control of Spain between Muslim and Christian armies. Since then, the castle has fallen into obscurity. Geographically unpopular, ignored by academia, and until recently left to crumble. Today the former headquarters of one of Spain's most important military orders is coming back to life. Since 2014 and overseen by the Heritage Office of the regional Castilla-La Mancha government, Zorita Castle field school teaches students and archaeology lovers from around the world how to conduct an archaeological excavation while uncovering part of the castle history.
The Order of Calatrava and Zorita Castle
The Order of Calatrava was born in the actual region of Castilla-La Mancha, specifically in the province of Ciudad Real, where during the twelfth century intensified the struggle between the Berber villages arrived in Al-Andalus and the Christian of Castille. All Mancha region south of Almagro is known today as Campo de Calatrava, the first seat of the institution of monks warriors.
Our first goal for 2018 is to arrive to the castle rock in an area of the cemetery to study its chronology. We already have a sequence of more than five tombs, one on the top of the other, and some of them with more than one burial. The discovery of two coins in the hands of two of the skeletons at different depths, provide us with clues for the understanding of the history of the cemetery and the castle.

The excavation of new graves will be combined with that of the porch next to the courtyard to investigate the water collection system for the cistern. Our third goal is to continue the excavation of the small chapel discovered in 2014 next to the graves.


Period(s) of Occupation: Medieval

SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS Afternoon workshop on osteology Afternoons will be dedicated to lab work. Cleaning and cataloging ceramics and bones will be part of your daily schedule, combined with workshops on: - Introduction to osteology: the human skeleton - Anthropometry. Systematic measurements of standard parameters - Determination of variability. Epigenetic characters (non-metric). - Determination of size and sex. - Determination of age of death - Health of the population: degenerative diseases, deficiency diseases, infectious diseases, traumatic pathologies.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Zorita de los Canes is a tiny village (population: 70) in Guadalajara province, a 90-minute-drive east from Madrid. Located between the castle and the river Tajo, It has a charming little hotel, a restaurant over an old tower and a nice beach next to the remains of an old bridge. 

The group, including ArchaeoSpain staff, will be staying at Posada de Zorita Hotel, just five-minute walk down from the castle. The students will be sharing double rooms with bathroom and air conditioning.  

Meals will be done at the restaurant, where we are fortunate to have one of the best cooks in the region, who works hard to make us feel like at home wile enjoyong a wide diversity of spanish traditional dishes.

US$2,100 Fees Include: • Full Room and Board • Fieldwork training • Seminars and workshops • Excursions and other activities • Medical Insurance • Transportation to and from airport • Application fee • Administrative costs Fees DO NOT include airfare

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
41 Crossroads Plaza, suite 133
West Hartford
Estados Unidos
001 860 881 2227
Recommended Bibliography: 

J. DODDS (ed). 1992. Al-Andalus. The Art of Islamic Spain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

Exibition Catalogue.1994. The Art of Medieval Spain. AD500-1200. he Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

FUERO DE ZORITA DE LOS CANES. 1911. El Fuero de Zorita de los Canes según el códice 247 de la Biblioteca Nacional (siglo XIII al XIV) y sus relaciones con el Fuero Latino de Cuenca y el Romanceado de Alcázar                                                                                  

HERRERA CASADO, A. 1999. Guía de Campo de los Castillos de Guadalajara (Colección Tierra de Guadalajara, 24), Ediciones AACHE, Guadalajara.

LAYNA SERRANO, F. 1994. Castillos de Guadalajara (Colección Obras Completas de Layna. Ediciones AACHE, Guadalajara, 1994, 2).  

RODRÍGUEZ-PICAVEA, E. 1994. La formación del feudalismo en la meseta meridional castellanalos señoríos de la Orden de Calatrava en los siglos XII-XIII. Madrid

TORRES CAMPOS Y BALBÁS, L. 1919. El Castillo de Zorita de los Canes. (Guadalajara).Boletín de la Sociedad Española de ExcursionesI Vol. 27, 2, 1919, 90-106.

Ospreys Men at Arms series:

European Medieval Armies

Moors the Islamic West (7th-15th Centuries)

Medieval Heraldry

The knights of Christ

El Cid and the Reconquista 1050-1492

Armies of Castile and Aragon 1370–1516