The Roman Coastal Settlement of Poggio del Molino, Populonia (Archeodig Project)

Location: Populonia, Livorno, Italy

June 17, 2018 to July 14, 2018

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Florence, University of Arizona, Earthwatch Institute, Past in Progress Association

Project Director:

Giandomenico De Tommaso (University of Florence), Carolina Megale (University of Florence, Archeodig Project)

Project Description

Populonia was for centuries (from 900 BCE to 100 CE) one of the most important centers of iron smelting and trade in the Mediterranean. Anyway the transfer of the city to Roman rule (250/200 BCE) and the related changes (politico-economical, architectural, religious) are still largely unknown in this part of the Etruscan coast.  

The maritime settlement of Poggio del Molino (PdM) is located in the heart of the former territory of one of the most important Etruscan cities, Populonia, overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea. The roman building was built on the northern side of a headland that acts as a watershed between the beach of Rimigliano in the north and the Gulf of Baratti in the south (in the municipality of Piombino). 

In the half of the 2nd century BCE, the northern part of the promontory is occupied by a fortress placed to control and defend the territory of Populonia against pirates attack. The fortress, with a rectangular plan of about 55 x 56 m, has two gateway with control towers and a lookout tower facing inland.   

At the end of the 1st century BCE, the building was turned into a farm with adjoining cetariaa handicraft factory for the production of garum (fish sauce), equipped with pools for soaking the fish.

Around the half of the 2nd century CE after a thorough renovation, the building takes on the characteristics of a maritime villa. A large open area set out as a garden with columns around surrounded by the baths complex and the living quarters with mosaic floors and painted walls; and a servants’ area with the kitchen and housing.

In the 4th and in the 5th century CE, after the destruction, the site experienced a significant phase of inhabitation connected with the presence of a gathering place, probably linked to early Christian worship, and of a tomb set up on the ruins of the villa. 

This project aims to fill key gaps in our knowledge of the industrial history and coastal economy of Populonia and its territory, from the early Roman period (250/200 BCE) to the early Middle Ages (600 CE), through archaeological research; and to insert the archaeological site of PdM in the itineraries of the area: cultural tourism is a great opportunity for the future economic development of Piombino.


Period(s) of Occupation: Roman Age: from Late Repubblican period (2nd century BCE) to early Middle Age (6th century CE).

Fortress against pirates attack. Farm with garum (fish sauce) production. Villa maritima with roman bath and residencial part with mosaic floor. Late antiquity settlement.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 2 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No pre-requisites and no archaeological experience

Room and Board Arrangements

Students will stay in comfortable apartments in the quiet village of Populonia Station, about 5km/3.2 miles away from the site. The apartments feature modern furnishings, single beds, hot showers, flush toilets, electricity and sockets to charge cameras, mobile phone, gas heat. here is a small kitchen in each apartment with an oven, hob and fridge. Rooms will be single gender, but apartments mixed gender. Participants will need to bring a towel and sleeping bag. Food will be typical Tuscan and Italian style cuisine. The evening meal will be prepared by you with the help of the staff. Lunch on site.

3.200 $ (approx. € 3000) all the period (4 weeks). 1.800 $ (approx. € 1700) for 2 weeks.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University of Arizona
Number of credits offered 6
1.000 $ (circa)


Contact Information
Carolina Megale
Via della Pieve, 6
+39 339 7544894
Recommended Bibliography: 

C. Megale, Il forte tardo repubblicano di Poggio del Molino: controllo e difesa di un territorio, in V. Di Cola, F. Pitzalis (a cura di) Materiali per Populonia 11, Pisa 2016, pp. 245-257.

C. Megale, S. Genovesi, The Roman Settlement of Poggio del Molino: the Late Republican Fort and the Early Imperial Farm of Poggio del Molino. Preliminary data, FOLD&R, n. 347, 2016,

C. Megale, S. Genovesi, Economy and production in Late Republican Settlement of Poggio del Molino, Populonia, in L. Bombardieri, A. D’Agostino, G. Guarducci, V. Orsi, S. Valentini (a cura di), Identity and Connectivity: Proceedings of the 16th Symposium on Mediterranean Archaeology, Florence, Italy, 1–3 March 2012, BAR International Series 2581 (II), 2013, pp. 901-908. 

G. De Tommaso, C. Megale, S. Genovesi, C. Martinozzi, C. Corona, Piombino (Li). Populonia. Villa di Poggio del Molino: breve sintesi della campagna 2012, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana», 8/2012, pp. 467-473.

C. Megale, M. Bueno, S. Genovesi, Nuovi mosaici dalle terme della villa romana di Poggio del Molino (Populonia, LI), in C. Angelelli (a cura di), Atti del XVIII Colloquio dell’Associazione italiana per lo Studio e la Conservazione del Mosaico (Cremona 2012), pp. 517-526.

C. Baione, C. Corona, G. De Tommaso, S. Genovesi, C. Megale, Piombino (Li). Populonia, Villa di Poggio del Molino: breve sintesi della campagna 2011, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici della Toscana», 7/2011, pp. 313-318.

G. De Tommaso, F. Ghizzani Marcìa, C. Megale, La villa romana di Poggio del Molino e il Progetto Archeodig: un nuovo approccio all’archeologia sul campo, in G. Baratti, F. Fabiani (eds.), Materiali per Populonia 9, 2010, Pisa, pp. 163-180.

G. De Tommaso, F. Ghizzani Marcìa, C. Megale, Piombino (Li). Populonia, Villa di Poggio del Molino: nuove indagini, le campagne 2008 e 2009, «Notiziario della Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dellla Toscana», 5/2009, 2010, pp. 352-356.

V.Saladino, La villa romana sul Poggio del Mulino (Populonia) e il lago di Rimigliano, Atti e Memorie dell'Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere 'La Colombaria', LX: 33-101, 1995, Firenze.

S. Bertone, Mosaici della villa romana di Poggio del Molino a Populonia, Atti del II Colloquio dell'Associazione italiana per lo studio e la conservazione del mosaico, (Roma 5 - 7 dicembre 1994), 159-162, 1995, Bordighera.

E.J.Shepherd, La villa romana di Poggio del Molino (Populonia, Livorno), Rassegna di Archeologia, 6: 273-300, 1986-87, Firenze.

V.Saladino - E.J.Shepherd, G.De Tommaso, La villa romana di Poggio del Molino. Campagna di scavo 1984, Rassegna di Archeologia, 4: 319-335, 1984, Firenze.