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Discovering Roman cities from Portugal and Spain & Dig in the Roman City of Sanisera (Spain)

Location: Lisbon, Portugal

May 1, 2014 to September 7, 2015

Session dates: 
1) May 01 - May 20; 2) May 23 - June 11; 3) June 14 - July 03; 4) July 06 - July 25; 5) July 28 - August 16; 6) August 19 - September 07

Application Deadline: 
Monday, November 30, 2015

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon 032.pdf

Program Type

Field school



The Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools offers over 20 international courses focusing on archaeology, anthropology, GIS, underwater archaeology, conservation, art, museums and archaeological film. Student's fieldwork centers on the survey and excavation of classical sites. - See more at:

Project Director:

Fernando Contreras, Tatiana Valente and Cesar Gonzalez

Project Description

Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools

Our commitment is to promote Archaeology in its different aspects of research, training, and conservation, with a basic and clear purpose: to involve anyone from around the world who wishes to gain access to this scientific field. Sanisera is an international archaeological organization whose main aim is that of promoting and developing research , so that our current and future generations can be enriched by culture and education in this field.

We are not only in Spain, but we also have courses in Greece, Portugal, France, UK, Croatia, Turkey and Italy. We offer students more than 20 courses that can enrich their CVs, validate university credits and get recommendation letters to enter the job market or get into prestigious scientific research centers.

Our work is focused on the archaeological study of ancient cities, anthropology, osteology, digging graves, conservation in archaeology, art, museums, excavate shipwrecks and submerged cities of ancient ports in the underwater school in archaeology, how to make a movie, learning GIS Software for archaeologists and discovering the most important monuments from Ancient civilizations such as Athens and Rome.

Why participate?

General Information

This program, which has been scheduled by the The Sanisera Archaeology Institute for International Field Schools, is divided in two main parts. In the first part of the course students will gain experience in archaeological fieldwork by excavating in the Ancient Roman city of Sanisera. This site is located in the Mediterranean island of Menorca. During the second part, students will travel from Lisbon to Seville discovering the most important Roman cities from Portugal and Spain, leaded by an expert on Roman archaeology.

Part 1. The archaeological fieldwork in Sanisera (Menorca, Spain)

The research is focused on the archaeological excavation of Sanisera and it studies what happened in this Roman port connected to the maritime traffic that sailed the Mediterranean during those times. As a result, we know that this is a very interesting archaeological site, with abundant findings of multiple artifacts that will help us to reconstruct its past.

The excavation at the Roman city of Sanisera provides all the archaeological documentation necessary for the student to acquire enough training and experience in all aspects involving an excavation of the Roman civilization from the II century B.C. to the VI A.D.

In the laboratory students will learn to classify all the artifacts found on the site, including Roman pottery, numismatics and faunal remains. 

Time dedicated to this part of the program: 70 %.

Part 2. Travel from Lisbon to Seville discovering the most important Roman cities from Portugal and Spain.

For the second part of the course, the Field Program has scheduled an archaeological tour travelling from Lisbon, capital of Portugal and considered one of the most charming cities in Europe. We will cross the border to reach Seville in Spain as our final destination. Seville preserve the largest antique center of Spain and one of the three largest in Europe alongside with Venice and Genoa. This cultural capital receives national and international tourism, and is the third most visited city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Among its most representative monuments are the Cathedral, the Giralda, the Alcázar, the Archive of the Indies and the Torre del Oro, the first three being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

In the tour, we will discover four Roman cities: Conimbriga y Evora in Portugal, and Merida and Italica in Spain.

This tour will have a duration of five days and explanations will be in English.

In Conimbriga, we will visit the Roman ruins one of the largest Roman settlements in Portugal with some of the earliest layers dating back to the first Iron Age in the 9th Century B.C. The Romans arrived in the 2nd century A.D., and the city walls are largely intact as well as the mosaic floors and foundations of many houses and public buildings. In the public baths, you can view the network of stone heating ducts beneath the now-missing floors.

The Romans conquered Evora in 57 BC and expanded it into a walled town. Vestiges from this period (city walls and ruins of Roman baths) still remain. Julius Caesar called it Liberalitas Julia (Julian generosity). The city grew in importance because it lay at the junction of several important routes. During his travels through Gaul and Lusitania, Pliny the Elder also visited this town and mentioned it in his book Naturalis Historia as Ebora Cerealis, because of its many surrounding wheat fields. In those days, Évora became a flourishing city. Its high rank among municipalities in Roman Hispania is clearly shown by many inscriptions and coins. The monumental Corinthian temple in the centre of the town dates from the first century and was probably erected in honour of Emperor Augustus. In the fourth century, the town had already a bishop, named Quintianus. The city's historic legacy was officially recognized in 1986, when UNESCO declared Evora a World Heritage Site.

Merida was founded in the year 25 BC by the army of Augustus. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman Empire. Merida preserves the most important ancient roman monument than any other city in Spain. We will visit the theater, el amphitheater, the Temple of Diana, the National Museum of Roman Art and the roman villa was called the House of the Mithraeum. This is another house built at the end of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd century AC outside the city walls, without any restrictions to its growth. Its size and the decoration of some of its rooms undoubtedly show that its owners were people of Hellenistic culture who were important within the society of this city.

Italica was the birthplace of the Roman emperor Trajan. Hadrian was generous to his settled town, which he made a colony; he added temples, including a Trajaneum venerating Trajan, and rebuilt public buildings. Italica’s amphitheater seated 25,000 spectators—half as many as the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome— and was the third largest in the Roman Empire. The city's Roman population at the time is estimated to have been only 8000. The games and theatrical performances funded by the local aristocracy, who filled the positions of magistrate, were a means of establishing status: the size of the amphitheater shows that the local elite was maintaining status that extended far beyond Italica itself.

Time dedicated to this part of the program: 30%.

What you will learn

In the Fieldwork

  • How to dig and which archaeological techniques are used.
  • Use and handling of the tools that are used during the excavation process.
  • Basic principles of stratigraphy.
  • Recording the data obtained during the excavation using the Harris Method.
  • Practice on the recognition of archaeological materials and Roman finds from the II century B.C. - VI A.D.
  • Basic procedures for sample collection.

In the Laboratory

  • Study and typological classification of archaeological objects of Roman archaeology: ceramics, numismatics, faunal remains, metals and glass.
  • Relative dating based on the classification of archaeological objects discovered in the stratigraphic sequence.


  • History, archaeology, economy and culture of the Roman civilization.
  • Introduction to the History of the Sanisera Site.
  • Minorcan archaeology before the Roman conquest of the Balearic Islands.

Art & Museums

  • Discover the most important Roman cities from Portugal and Spain: Conimbriga, Evora, Merida and Italica.
  • In Merida, visit the theater, el amphitheater, the Temple of Diana, the National Museum of Roman Art and the roman villa called the House of the Mithraeum.
  • In Seville (Spain) visit the most representative monuments: the Cathedral, the Giralda and the Alcazar.

Directed at

If you have never excavated as a volunteer in a field school and are interested in excavating in a Roman city as well as visiting the most important Roman cities of Portugal and Spain, this is the best option for you. In addition, in this archaeological tour you can discover the charming of Lisbon and the architecture, people and flamenco of Seville.

This course will introduce you into the Roman world, first digging and later on visiting the best examples of how a Roman city was, with its public buildings, temples and theatres.

This program is designed for students interested in focusing their studies in the classical world of Rome, delving into its history and archeology.

You will learn to excavate and classify archaeological material found. You will identify different types of Roman pottery, amphorae, coins and other Roman archaeological material. After learning this in Sanisera, you will have a better understanding when you visit four roman cities of the Roman Empire, archaeological museums and the European cities Lisbon and Seville.

Previous knowledge or experience in archaeology or computer systems is not required.

Field School life & language

This field school program, with a length of 20 days, will start in Spain. Students will meet in Menorca during the first day. Next and during the following days they will focus on the excavation in the ancient city of Sanisera, where they will work for 11 days. Students will receive an intensive introduction on basic aspects of field excavation techniques following the Harris Matrix. The fieldwork runs 7 hours per day, with time dedicated to excavation as well as laboratory work focused on Roman pottery. Courses are given in both English and Spanish.

On the 14th day of the course participants will fly to Lisbon, where they will stay for 5 days. Once students finish the archaeological tour in Portugal, they will have one day off in order to enjoy their free time. On the 19th day of the course students will fly back to Menorca, from where they will go back home.

The trip schedule will be:

1er day: Flight Menorca – Lisbon. 2nd day: Conimbriga. 3rd day: Evora, Merida. 4th day: Italica, Sevilla. 5th day: Flight Lisbon – Menorca.    


At the end of the Field Program, students will receive a certificate of participation stating the hours and activities of the course. Participants that perform exceedingly well in the course may receive a letter of recommendation from our organization upon request.

Sessions & Cost

In 2015, 6 sessions, 20 days each
Session #1 May 01 – May 20 $ 2,900
Session #2 May 23 - June 11 $ 2,900
Session #3 June 14 – July 03 $ 2,900
Session #4 July 06 – July 25 $ 2,900
Session #5 July 28 - August 16 $ 2,900
Session #6 August 19 – September 07  $ 2,900

Spaces available

The course is limited to 6 participants per session. Reservations are only effective when payment of the registration fee is received. If for any reason the course is cancelled, payment is returned according to the field school refund policy.

Period(s) of Occupation: Classical Archaeology

This course is based in both Spain and Lisbon. Participants will spend time excavating the Roman city of Sanisera in Menorca, Spain, where fieldwork focuses on the excavation of an urban area. In the laboratory students will learn to classify artifacts found, including Roman pottery, numismatics and faunal remains. Participants then will travel to Lisbon on an archaeological tour of Portugal and Spain

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 20 days

Minimum age: 
18 (contact with questions about age)

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Course fee includes

  • Course tuition.
  • Daily transportation to/from the archaeological fieldwork.
  • Accommodation in the Student Residency in Ciutadella (Menorca)
  • Accommodation in Lisbon (Portugal) and Seville (Spain)
  • Flight ticket to/from Menorca – Lisbon (students can only take a cabin bag weighing up to 10 kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm).
  • Daily transportation to/from archaeological sites
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner (only while in Sanisera - Menorca)
  • Certificate of participation.

Airfare not included from the student home to/from Menorca (Spain).

During the archaeological tour in Portugal or Spain meals are not included (only 6 days of the 20 days of the course, although we will recommend some cafés and restaurants that do not exceed the average of 12€/day in meals. Entry tickets to museums and historical buildings are not included either.


Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Please, contact Cesar Gonzalez, our course coordinator, in order to get more information about this possibility
Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
Cesar Gonzalez
Apdo. 68
Es Mercadal
+1 347 8710963