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The Roman Port of Rusellae, Tuscany – The Alberese Archaeological Field School

Location: Alberese, Italy

August 4, 2013 to September 1, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 15, 2013

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Sheffield and John Cabot University at Rome

Project Director:

Dr. Alessandro Sebastiani, Elena Chirico, Matteo Colombini, Dr. Mario Cygielman, and Coordinator for John Cabot University: Prof. Inge L. Hansen

Project Description

The excavations concern the newly identified Roman port on the Ombrone River, located within the Maremma National Park in Tuscany. The port provided an important commercial focus for the ancient city of Rusellae and for the exchange of goods around the Via Aurelia.

The excavations provide important new evidence for the understanding of Roman trade and communication links within Roman Italy and between local communities and the Mediterranean. The port’s development history, and new evidence of patronage links to Rome, further adds to our understanding of the ‘Romanization’ of Etruria.

The field school is an integral part of the research excavations, and the participants will contribute to this through on-site excavations and through the study of the materials off site. It provides participant with a historical and archaeological contextualisation of the port excavations, as well as an in-depth appreciation of the multifaceted settlement organization of the region.

Excavation details: Excavations in the summer of 2010-2012 revealed  substantial artisanal workshops, including glass- and metalworking, a late Roman necropolis and the remains of a possible Roman bridge. The port is associated with a temple dedicated to Diana Umbronesis, set on a rocky promontory to the south, which acted as a ‘marker’ for the coastal trade in the area. This sanctuary together with a second, Severan, temple are part of ongoing excavations by the Alberese Archaeological Project.

Recent geo-archaeological investigations have shown that the port site was originally located at the mouth of the Ombrone River close to the ancient coastline. The port consequently acted as an important intermediary for trade and infrastructure for the cities of the immediate territory. Of particularly significance between the second and fifth centuries A.D., the port facilities undoubtedly developed in relation to the imperial port at Ostia and to facilitate links with Rome.

New evidence from the near-by sanctuary of Diana has shown that this was object of considerable investment by individuals linked to powerful families in Rome. The excavations, in other words, furnish important evidence for links of patronage between Etruria and Rome, and provide significant new details for understanding of the land-investments and economic development of the area.

Integral to the Alberese Archaeological Project is the adoption of a multidisciplinary academic approach: archaeological, historical, geological, environmental and material culture studies are undertaken by a team of outstanding young academics from all over Europe. The project aims to provide a nuanced and multifaceted understanding of the changing character of the region between the Roman Imperial period and late Antiquity.

Field school details: The field school offers a combination of practical field archaeology and material studies, and an introduction to urban and rural life in Roman Etruria.

The primary component of the course is an on-site practicum for which students will gain a practical, hands-on experience of archaeological excavation, recording, electronic surveying and artefact studies. They will further be introduced to the methodology and character of these fields, as well as to landscape archaeology, archaeobotanical analysis and ceramic and numismatic analysis. The course will develop a critical assessment of the method and scope of archaeological interpretation.

The field school presents a singular opportunity for a practical first hand experience in evaluating material evidence, for an in-depth understanding of the period in question, and a critical appreciation of the impact of archaeological and art historical evidence for the study of the past.

Period(s) of Occupation: Imperial Roman period, Late Antiquity

Archaeometallurgy, Glass Workshops, Bone Workshop, Metal Workshop, Necropolis, Caboatge Port

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 4 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

The participants will stay in comfortable houses/apartments located in the city of Grosseto. Rooms will be shared in a number of 2/3 people. 
All meals are included for the working days (Monday to Friday), including breakfast at home, packed lunch on site and dinners at restaurant in Grosseto. 

$3,500 (3 credits), $2,900 (certificate of participation)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
John Cabot University at Rome
Number of credits offered 3


Contact Information
Dr. Alessandro Sebastiani
Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, Northgate House West Street
The United Kingdom
S1 4ET
Recommended Bibliography: 

Chirico, E. and Sebastiani, A. (2010) L’occupazione tardoantica del promotorio dello Scoglietto ad Alberese (GR). Acheologia Medievale 37: 333-46.

Cygielman, M., Chirico, E., Colombini, M. and Sebastiani, A. (2010) Dinamiche insediative nel territorio della foce dell’Ombrone. Il porto di Russelae. Notiziario della Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici della Toscana 6: 10-29.

Cygielman, M., Chirico, E., Colombini, M. and Sebastiani, A. (2010) Un tempio sullo Scoglietto. Archeologia Viva 140: 50-54.

Sebastiani, A. (2011) Foce dell’Ombrone. Tempio di Diana. Archeologia Viva 145: 12.

Sebastiani, A. (2011) Paesaggio romano della Maremma Grossetana. Forma Urbis April: 19-25.

Sebastiani, A. (2011) Nota su due strutture produttive tardo romane nell’ager Rusellanus: la bottega di un maestro vetraio a Spolverino (Alberese – GR) e l’officina metallurgica a Rusellae (Grosseto). Fasti Online, FOLD&R Italy Series 221 (

Sebastiani, A., Cygielman, M., Chirico, E. and Colombini, M. (2010) Dinamiche insediative nel territorio della foce dell’Ombrone: nuovi dati dagli scavi presso l’area templare dello Scoglietto (Alberese – GR).Notiziario della Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici della Toscana 5: 35-92.

Cygielman, M., Chirico, E., Colombini, M. and Sebastiani, A. (2011) Alberese (GR). Loc. Spolverino. Porto fluviale di Rusellae: indagini 2011Notiziario della Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici della Toscana 7: 357-361.