This listing expired on September 2, 2014. Please contact for any updated information.
Ancient and Medieval History Program

Location: Firenze - Fiesole , Italy

August 27, 2014 to December 13, 2014

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon brochure_amhp_pixart.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



ISI Florence, PennState, Università di Firenze, Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici della Toscana, Archeodig Project

Project Director:

Erika Bianchi, Program Coordinator (ISI Florence), Carolina Megale, Fieldwork Coordinator (Università di Firenze), G. Carlotta Cianferoni, Fieldwork Director (Soprintendenza Beni Archeologici della Toscana),

Project Description

The A&MH Program at Palazzo Rucellai is a 15-week interdisciplinary program made up of a combination of in-class lectures, special excursions and an exclusive fieldwork on the archaeological site of Fiesole (Florence), a prominent etruscan-roman town five miles northeast of Florence. Instruction is by faculty from both the Institute at Palazzo Rucellai and Penn State University. All instruction is in English.

The  program is designed for undergraduate students of classics, history, architecture, art, anthropology and political science, as well as students with an interest in the ancient Mediterranean world. Its aim is to provide students with a unique opportunity to trace the origins of modern Western society, translating their historical knowledge from the narrow focus of the course to the much wider context of being active and acquainted citizens of today’s world.

The schedule of classroom lectures, based on PowerPoint presentations, will be coordinated with the fieldwork, the lab activities and the joint, interdisciplinary field trips also included in the program. 

Courses do not require any prerequisites. Students enrolling in the Ancient and Medieval History program for Fall 2014 will take:

  • Ancient Rome and the Mediterranean, Dr. Erika Bianchi (ISI Florence), 3 credits
    A survey of the history, politics, and culture of the Roman world and its relationship with neighboring cultures such as Etruria, Greece, and Egypt. The course will range from Rome's mythical beginnings to its domination of the Mediterranean world, thus studying the durable/prolonged/long-lasting success of the Roman Empire as the greatest superpower the Mediterranean has ever seen.
  • Field Archaeology, Dr. Carolina Megale (ISI Florence), 3 credits
    A practicum in archaeology introducing students to the principles, methods, and techniques of archaeological research. The course aims to instruct and involve students in the digging process: from the collection of data to the study of the materials; from the formulation of an hypothesis to the construction of a valid historical interpretation of what they find. 
  • Architecture: Roman to Early Christian, Dr. Rita Comanducci (ISI Florence), 3 credits
    The course explores the design and engineering of Ancient Roman architecture from the early Republican Age in Rome to the Early Christian period. From their standpoint in Florence, students will explore the impact of political, socio-economic, and territorial transformation on Ancient Roman architecture. The course is organized both chronologically and thematically; modules will offer an insight into specific architectural typologies, ranging from public spaces to domestic architecture, religious buildings, defensive complexes, health, fitness and entertainment facilities. Classroom lectures will be followed by direct experience of some of the major Roman sites in Italy. 
  • Early Medieval Society, Dr. Kathryn Salzer (PSU), 3 credits
    This course examines the political, economic, and social world of Europe, focusing on the period from 300 to 1100 C.E. Topics include the development of both secular and ecclesiastical authorities, the importance of Carolingian social and religious policies, and the many agricultural and economic changes which transformed Europe.
  • Italian Language, ISI Florence Italian Department faculty, 3 credits
    An intensive introduction to the Italian language, designed to enable students to use it in their daily contact with Italians and to gain an archaeology vocabulary to practice in their fieldwork experience.
Fieldwork: Fiesole (two-week archaeological dig)
Students will have the chance to actively participate in the exclusive archaeological excavation of an area in the center of Fiesole. Coordinated by the Archeodig Project, 
they will work side by side with Italian undergraduates from the Università di Firenze in the Area Garibaldi, a 450 sq meter dig. After a cursory investigation, this site has revealed the presence of Longobard tombs rich in gold grave goods above the ruins of a Roman settlement.

The historical and archaeological relevance of this territory, as well as its crucial role in the founding of the nearby ancient city of Florence, make Fiesole an ideal site for our students’ field experience. Prior to their two-week dig in Fiesole, they will attend a combination of lectures and practical demonstrations to illustrate all aspects of the work. Students will work in small teams supervised by experienced archaeologists who will teach them stratigraphic excavation techniques, archaeological documentation methods (written, visual, and graphic), principles of structural analysis of walls as well as the study of ancient pottery and mobile artifacts. 

Fieldtrips, ranging from one to three days, will include:

  • Populonia (Etruscan-Roman site on the Tuscan coast): acropolis, necropolis, and medieval castle
  • Rome: highlights of the Empire such as the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon; museums; Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli
  • Ravenna: Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, San Vitale, and Sant’Apollinare Nuovo
  • Pompeii, Stabiae, Naples (National Archaeological Museum)

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman, Longobard and Medieval Age

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Fall semester

Experience required: 
No experience required

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will stay in comfortable apartments in the city of Florence. The apartments feature modern furnishings, single beds, hot showers, flush toilets, electricity and sockets to charge cameras, mobile phone, gas heat. There is a small kitchen in each apartment with an oven, hob and fridge.  
Food will be typical Tuscan and Italian style cuisine. 

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
PennState, ISI Florence
Number of credits offered 15


Contact Information
Erika Bianchi
via della Vigna Nuova, 15