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Basentello Valley Archaeological Research Project (BVARP)

Location: Gravina in Puglia (province of Bari); Genzano di Lucania (province of Potenza), Italy

July 8, 2013 to August 23, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 8, 2013

Deadline Type: 
Contact for details

Flyer: PDF icon 2013_expression_of_interest_form.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Saint Mary's University

Project Director:

Dr. Myles McCallum (Saint Mary's University); Dr. Hans vanderLeest (Mount Allison University), Dr. Adam Hyatt (University of Michigan)

Project Description

The Department of Modern Languages and Classics invites applications for its archaeological field school in the Basentello Valley in the historic regions of Puglia and Basilicata (south central Italy; the ‘instep’ of the boot).  Students will participate in an ongoing archaeological research project which involves the excavation of a Roman imperial estate in southern Italy (including a small village and a Roman cemetery) as well as regional field survey of a 200 square km area in the territories of Genzano di Lucania, Banzi, and Irsina.  The goal of our research is to examine the settlement patterns of this territory, with special emphasis on the transitions from the Hellenistic to the Roman period, and from the Imperial to the Late Antique period. We are also examining cultural interaction between the pre-Roman indigenous population of the region and the Romans who arrive in the area as colonists and landowners during the first century BC. 

History of the Project

Since 2005, students from North American and European universities have participated in the study of an imperial estate and its surrounding territory in the Basentello Valley of south Italy. This has included the excavation of a Roman villa, part of an imperial estate, the analysis of artifactual and environmental data from this excavation, and the survey of a roughly 200 square kilometer territory to the west of the Basentello River Valley in the regions of Puglia and Basilicata. The project has involved specialists in pottery, zooarchaeology, archaeobotany, CAD, GIS, and the environmental scientists. Reports of our fieldwork have been published in the Papers of the British School at Rome, the Fasti Online, and Taras, and a substantial preliminary report will appear shortly in Mouseion. The project, which is partially funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is of vital importance for our understanding of the process of Romanization or cultural hybridization in southern Italy, as well as to our understanding of the nature of imperial estates in Italy. A field school has been associated with the project since its inception, which has been a formative experience in the careers of many graduate students, including one Rhodes scholar, and professional archaeologists. 

Work in 2013

During the summer of 2013, the field school will afford students the opportunity of excavating the villa site at San Felice, documenting this work, and dealing with the finds from the excavation. Students will also participate in archaeological field survey in the territory of the modern towns of Genzano di Lucania, Banzi, and Irsina. Throughout the field school, students will interact with professors and students from Mount Allison University (excavating at San Felice), McMaster University (excavating a Roman period cemetery 850 meters from the villa at San Felice), and Sheffield University (excavating a small Roman village associated with the villa and the cemetery).

Students will be trained in the essential methods and techniques of archaeological excavation, photography, drawing, documentation, data entry, finds analysis, environmental archaeology, field walking, digital mapping, GIS, and site identification. This training is hands on and will take place almost entirely in the field, complemented by a series of lectures presented by professors and specialists related to various aspects of the project.

Students will be graded on their ability to learn and execute various archaeological techniques in the field and the lab, on their entries in an archaeological daybook, and on a final exam. Students will enroll in two 3.0 credit hour courses (CLAS 3610, Field Study in Roman Archaeology and 3611, Roman Archaeology Field Laboratory) offered by Saint Mary's University through the Department of Modern Languages and Classics.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman imperial period (excavation); Paleolithic to Medieval periods (survey)

regional survey; imperial estate; excavation; cultural interaction/hybridization; settlement patterns; environmental archaeology

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Accommodation, Meals, and Student Life
During the field school, students live in rental apartments in both the town of Gravina in Puglia (province of Bari, region of Puglia) during the excavation, and the town of Banzi (province of Potenza, region of Basilicata) during the field survey. The apartments in Gravina have kitchens, so most meals will be taken in the apartments, although we dine out as a group twice per week at local restaurants and pizzerias. During their stay in Gravina, student participants live amongst and interact with students from McMaster University and Sheffield University. The apartments in Banzi, which are located in the small, medieval historical center of the town in a 15th century structure, are currently under renovation; the plan is for them to be equipped with kitchenettes, but this may change depending on the finances of the town and the region who are paying for this construction. Students also have the opportunity to participate in local festivals in both Gravina in Puglia and Banzi, and to interact with locals in the evenings. In the past, this has included participating in a Medieval banquet and festival in Banzi, dancing, and endless games of scopa.  
Work Week
Students will work in the field and lab 5 days/week, starting between 6 and 7 am and finishing in the mid to late afternoon (between 2 and 4 pm, depending on weather conditions). Weekends are free, although there will be optional trips to nearby archaeological and historical sites and museums, such as those at Metaponto, Venosa, Melfi, Altamura, Taranto, and Potenza, and a weekend-long excursion to Pompeii and sites in the Bay of Naples. Students who are not interested in the scheduled trips may make their own weekend travel arrangements.
Faculty and Staff
The field school is directed by Dr. Myles McCallum, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary's University (email: Other faculty includes Dr. Hans vanderLeest, Dean of Arts, Mount Allison University, Dr. Adam Hyatt, University of Michigan Papyrology Library, Dr. Michael MacKinnon, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, University of Winnipeg, Dr. Robyn Veal, Researcher, Department of Archaeology, Cambridge University, Greg Baker, Spatial Lab Technician, Saint Mary's University, as well as graduate student site supervisors from institutions in North America and Europe. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with members of the team from McMaster University, directed by Dr. Tracy Prowse, Associate Professor of Anthropology, and Sheffield University, directed by Dr. Maureen Carroll, Reader in Roman Archaeology, as well as with Italian archaeology students who volunteer to work alongside us.  
The prerequisite for the field school (CLAS 3610 and 3611) is 3.0 credit hours of archaeology through a Classics or Anthropology Department, or 3.0 credit hours in Classics.

$2,500.00 for entire stay (includes accommodation, meals, daily transportation, course materials) Estimated and subject to change.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Saint Mary's University
Number of credits offered 6.0 credit hours
~$1,000.00 CAD (Canadian Students) to $2,000.00 CAD (Non-Canadian Students)


Contact Information
Dr. Myles McCallum
Dept. of Modern Lang. & Classics, Saint Mary's University, 923 Robie St.
B3L 2X5
(902) 420-5815