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The Poggio Civitate Archaeological Project: 2014 Field School

Location: Murlo, Siena, Italy

June 26, 2014 to August 1, 2014

Application Deadline: 
Thursday, May 15, 2014

Flyer: pc2014.pdf

Program Type

Field school


University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Project Director:

Dr. Anthony Tuck

Project Description

The Poggio Civitate Archaeological Field School is among the oldest and most well respected archaeological training programs in the world. Our program provides students and archaeology enthusiasts the opportunity to excavate at the site under the direction of a staff of professional archaeologists, conservators, illustrators, and photographers. Participants receive training in all aspects of fieldwork, including excavation and data collection, archaeological survey and drawing, objects conservation, illustration, photography, and cataloguing. At Poggio Civitate, we believe that the best field experience is comprehensive. Students are encouraged to work directly with directors of excavation units, follow artifacts from discovery through conservation and into cataloguing. Most of our participants come with no field work experience – many have never even taken an archaeology or classics course –and by the end of the season, we believe, each comes away with a foundation in Etruscan Archaeology and field methods, as well as a rich appreciation for Italy and rural Italian culture.

Work on site or in the laboratory (called the Magazzino) will constitute the majority of your “classroom” experience. Participants will work side by side with professional archaeologists, conservators and other members of the excavation team on projects integral to the functioning of the dig as a whole. While the majority of this time will be spent on the hill, working in the trenches, there is a weekly rotation into the magazzino where students will work in conservation, data entry, photography, cataloguing or illustration.

Fieldwork and excavation experiences are supplemented by lectures and a more traditional educational program. Weekly lectures by Professor Tuck or other members of the excavation staff cover a broad range of topics, from a general history of Etruria to the Social and Political implications of Bucchero pottery from Poggio Civitate. Visits to the museum that houses material from our excavation, as well as other regional museums occur frequently. There is also ample free time, including weekends, for participants to explore the Commune of Murlo, Tuscany, and further afield in Italy.

Students work under the instruction of our trained field staff, with decades of combined excavation experience, and take part in all aspects of digging. Everyone will work in a trench (or excavation unit) for a week at a time, which allows you to track the progress of work in the area. Tasks in the field will range from pick axing to brushing, and everything in between. Participants come away with a hands-on experience and appreciation for the physical work, as well as detailed record-keeping necessary to successfully document excavation

Steve Miller of the London Museum is our head conservator. He is a gifted conservator and a patient teacher.  Students will work with Steve to first learn basic techniques of cleaning artifacts, such as dry brushing and swabbing, and eventually work their way up to more advanced forms, such as artifact consolidation and creating fills. Participants will rotate through the conversation laboratory each week during their day off the hill working in the Magazzino.

Participants with an interest in photography can work with Anthony Tuck and other members of the excavation team to learn archaeological photography and photo editing. All of the catalogued artifacts are photographed and loaded into the database. Additionally, students can work with on-site photography, learning the various factors needed to take documentary photographs in the natural environment.

Period(s) of Occupation: Etruscan, Pre-Roman, Roman, Orientalizing, Archaic, Villanovan

Project size: 
50+ participants

Minimum age: 
High School Senior

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Murlo and Vescovado di Murlo
Excavation takes place on a forested hill in the Commune of Murlo, both outside the town of Murlo (pop. 25) as well as in the town of Vescovado di Murlo (pop. 900). We are located approximately 25 km south of Siena, and 90 km south of Florence. We reside in a villa across the street from the Albergo di Murlo, the local hotel owned by the Rubegni Family. Participants are housed in double, triple or quad rooms, each with its own bathroom and shower.  We have a large common/dining room located below the building, which doubles as our lecture hall.

All meals are provided Monday through Friday, and are prepared by our excavation chef. Participants who are assigned to the Magazzino also help with preparation of meals, and many have left with a new appreciation for cooking and Italian food. We make every effort to meet the dietary restrictions of participants, and there is always a vegetarian option available.  Most also take advantage of the various local restaurants for favorites such as Pici al Tartufo (handmade pasta with truffles) and Pizza alla Diavola (pizza with spicy sausage).

As a 60+-member excavation in a town of 900, we significantly change the dynamics of the community during our stay in Vescovado. Luckily, we are well liked in town, and are invited to the many festivals and events put on in the Commune. Traditionally, we are in town for the Cinghiale (wild boar) Festival, various concerts, as well as wine tastings in the Castello at Murlo. We also have a long-standing tradition of playing the locals in soccer.

Down time is utilized by participants in many ways- catch up on sleep, practice Italian with native speakers, or read a good book from the excavation library. There are also many opportunities available for local travel – walks, bike rides, and hikes – within a short walk from the house. There are also two pools in town that can be used for a nominal fee.

The weekends are free for excavation members to do as they desire. For the past few seasons, excavation members have taken the time off to explore Tuscany, as well as locations further afield such as Rome, Pompeii, Venice, and Naples. Buses run from Vescovado to Siena, where you can catch trains or busses most anywhere in Italy.

Included in Program Fee

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
UMass Amherst
Number of credits offered 6 Credit Hours
$4900 Program Fee and Tuition; Same if you recieve credit or not


Contact Information
Jason Bauer
361 West Broadway - Floor 2
New York
United States