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Marzuolo Archaeological Project: Crafting Innovation and Community in The Roman Countryside

Location: Cinigiano , Italy

July 3, 2016 to July 30, 2016

Session dates: 

Application Deadline: 
Friday, April 1, 2016

Deadline Type: 

Flyer: PDF icon mzap_flyer.pdf

Discount for AIA members: 

Program Type


RPA certified



University of Cambridge (UK), University of Arkansas (US), University of Groningen (NL), and the Comune of Cinigiano

Project Director:

Dr. Astrid Van Oyen (University of Cambridge), Dr. Rhodora G. Vennarucci (University of Arkansas), and Dr. Gijs Tol (University of Groningen)

Project Description

The Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP) is an international and interdisciplinary fieldwork project investigating the Roman-period craft site of Marzuolo (ca. 2 ha) in southern Tuscany (Italy), which was in use between the 1st century BCE and the early 4th century CE. Preliminary excavations at the site in 2012-13 have yielded high resolution evidence of Roman terra sigillata pottery production – the Roman empire’s most emblematic table wares – in a multi-craft context. Through an integrated approach including targeted excavation, spatial archaeometric data recording, 3D modeling, and specialist analyses, MAP will investigate over the next five years how innovation happened at the site, how knowledge was shuffled, and how a community of practice was formed. The result will be a nuanced picture of the changing practices of a crafting community that is highly diversified, well connected, and actively innovating –one that stands in marked contrast to the stereotypical Roman countryside occupied by conservative, isolated, and economically underdeveloped farmers.

The 2016 season will excavate two adjacent areas based on geophysical imaging: 1. a large opus reticulatum building, whose concrete masonry style suggests significant investment, and 2. a series of possible workshops. The aim will be to clarify the site’s layout and chronology in order to understand the relation between the two hitherto separate areas of the site, and the two craft communities they represent

Excavations are scheduled for four weeks (July 3rd – 31st, 2016) with an international team, including undergraduate and graduate students from the UK, US, the Netherlands, and Italy. Students will receive a comprehensive field experience, including hands-on training in excavation strategies and techniques, spatial archaeometric data recording and analysis, photogrammetry, artifact processing and conservation, flotation for paleo-botanical materials, and ceramic analysis. Excavation will take place in the mornings, with finds being cleaned, processed, and analyzed in the lab in the afternoons. 

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman Period (1st c BCE/CE and 3rd/4th c CE); Medieval Period (12th c CE)

The Marzuolo Archaeological Project (MAP) is a multi-institutional and international collaboration focused on the excavation of the Roman period site of Podere Marzuolo, which is located in the rural hinterland of the Etrusco-Roman town of Roselle in the region of Northern Etruria. MAP is poised to make a major contribution to the study of the ancient economy and Roman Italy. Its integrated methodology and holistic approach, aimed at generating micro-level data and analysis, will enable a fine-grained reconstruction of the crafting practices and community currently missing in innovation studies. Consequently, MAP is seeking enthusiastic and qualified students to participate in the pilot season (July 2016) of this innovative five-year project. While not a formal field school, students will receive comprehensive training in field excavation strategies and techniques, recording practices, and artifact processing and analysis. Please note that while excavation can be extremely rewarding work, it is also physically demanding. Students will be asked to work long hours in the heat of a Mediterranean summer.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers:

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No prior experience required, although preference will be given to students who have completed course work in Archaeology, Classics, Anthropology, and Art History.

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will be housed in shared rooms in the picturesque Tuscan hilltop town of Cinigiano (GR), Italy, within walking distance of cafes, grocery stores, and restaurants. Free Wi-Fi is available in the finds lab and at an Internet café located in the center of town. Laundromat services are available nearby. The project provides participants with three meals a day, Sunday dinner through Friday lunch. While a light breakfast will be eaten on site, lunches and dinners will be catered in town. Participants must provide their own meals on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekends are free for travel, and students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich historical and cultural sights of Tuscany—regional busses connect Cinigiano to Grosseto, Siena, and Florence.

In addition to covering the cost of room and board, the program fee includes shuttling to and from the site, excavation tools and supplies on site and in the lab, and instruction in excavation techniques, recording practices, and artifact processing. 

$1,000 for four weeks

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Number of credits offered


Contact Information
Dr. Rhodora G. Vennarucci
WLLC Department, 425 Kimpel, University of Arkansas
Recommended Bibliography: 

Greene, K. 2000. "Technological innovation and economic progress in the ancient world: M.I. Finley Reconsidered." EconHistRev 53(1): 29–59.

Vaccaro, E./M. MacKinnon. 2014. "Pottery and animal consumption: new evidence from the ‘Excavating the Roman Peasant Project’." HEROMJournal on Hellenistic and Roman Material Culture 3: 225–257.

van der Leeuw, S.E. 1990. "Archaeology, material culture and innovation." SubStance 19(2/3): 92–109.

Van Oyen, A. 2015. “The Roman city as articulated through terra sigillata.” OJA 34: 279–299.

Wenger, E. 1998. Communities of Practice. Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge.