Amphora Graveyard of Monte Testaccio, Rome

Location: Rome, Italy

August 30, 2015 to September 13, 2015

Application Deadline: 
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Program Type

Field school


University of Barcelona, ArchaeoSpain

Project Director:

Dr. José M. Blazquez and Dr. José Remesal

Project Description

Located in the heart of Rome, the Monte Testaccio project is one of the most important research programs on Roman epigraphy, economy, and commerce today. The project, overseen by the University of Barcelona and ArchaeoSpain, studies the pottery shards from an artificial mound created by centuries of discarded amphorae‚ many of which still have the maker's seal stamped on their handles, while others retain markings in ink relating the exporter's name and indicating the contents, the export controls, and consular date. Once an ancient pottery dump, Monte Testaccio is now one of the largest archives of Roman commerce in the world.

Those who join us will participate in all aspects of this project, including artifact recovery, cataloguing, and restoration. There will also be a few after-work lectures on Roman commerce and trade routes, Roman epigraphy, and archaeological drawing of amphora shards. 

In ancient times, amphorae were the main containers used for transportation and storage of goods. They were massively produced because of their low cost, and were usually destroyed once they reached their final destination because it was easier to make a new one than to clean and reuse an old one. Between the first and the third centuries, a spectacular number of amphorae were broken and dumped at a specific location in Rome near the Tiber River. Over the years, they formed an artificial hill of testae and crockery 45 meters (135 feet) high. Originally these amphorae had been used to hold the olive oil imported from the provinces, mainly from Baetica (modern Andalucia in southern Spain).

When work is over, Rome offers unlimited options for the lovers of the classical world. There will be multiple opportunities for the participants to enjoy what the city has to offer, from its busy cafes and restaurants to all the historical sites. We will take a walking tour of the Aqua Claudia, one of Rome's major aqueducts that was built between the years 38 and 52, and explore the nearby port city of Ostia Antica.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

The Testaccio team will stay in a large apartment a short walk from Monte Testaccio, near the Porta San Paolo. Participants will share a room with one other person.

The apartment has a living room with big-screen TV and DVD, a full kitchen with washing machine, and a huge outdoor terrace with tables and chairs. There is free Wifi, air conditioning in all rooms, and linens and towels are provided with a mid-program change.

We will have breakfast at the apartment before work.We eat lunch at one of Rome's best tavola calda (a cafeteria-style eatery with fresh, homemade dishes) at midday. Dinner will be prepared for us and eaten at the apartment, although some nights we will go out to local restaurants.


Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
In arrangement with participant's own institution
Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
5 Ironwood Lane
West Hartford
Recommended Bibliography: 

Blázquez Martínez J.M., Remesal Rodríguez J. (Eds.). (1999-2010). Estudios sobre el Monte Testaccio (Roma). Col·lecció Instrumenta. Proyecto Amphorae, bajo los auspicios de la Real Academia de la Historia. Universitat de Barcelona.