Coriglia Excavation Project

This listing expired on April 8, 2024. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Orvieto, Italy

Season: May 22, 2024 to June 26, 2024

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Kansas City Art Institute; Saint Anselm College

Project Director:
Amanda K. Chen

Project Description:

The Coriglia Excavation Project is an international collaborative project between the Kansas City Art Institute, Saint Anselm College, the Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio dell’Umbria, and the Parco Archeologico e Ambientale dell’Orvietano. This archaeological expedition is part of a long-term project to excavate several sites near Orvieto. Volunteers will have the opportunity to gain experience in diverse aspects of the broad field of archaeology by participating not only in excavations in the field, but also in the cleaning, identification, and documentation of recovered artifacts. This season will focus our wok on our flagship site, an Etrusco-Roman settlement known as Coriglia located approximately 8 miles from Orvieto.

Since 2006, excavations at this Etrusco-Roman settlement have uncovered a complex assemblage of monumental structures that resulted from the persistent habitation of the site from as at least the 6th century BCE through the 15th century CE. The major occupation of Coriglia began with an Etruscan phase in the 6th century BCE and reached its peak during the Roman Imperial period, though the site continued to be inhabited through the 15th century CE. The site occupies a large hillside that is defined by a series of L-shaped terrace walls that step down toward the river. The oldest of the two terrace walls was Etruscan, while the more recent retaining wall is of Late Republican Roman date and parallels the other in plan and purpose, together shaping the hillside into at least three terraces. To the east a road, water basins, supply pipes and canals, and an entry to the site were repeatedly reworked. These Imperial structures cut even earlier catch basins and canals and were later tapped as a water source for a medieval workshop excavated along their northern exterior wall. Western portions of the lower terrace support a bath complex that was repeatedly reworked and has at least three phases sometime during the early imperial period and lasting until at least the 4th century CE. In addition, during the 2015 campaign, in the southeast corner of this same trench we discovered a staircase leading down into a partially intact subterranean barrel-vaulted storage space that served the structures above and around it. Evidence found inside this vault along with other areas on the site speak to several catastrophic landslides or earthquakes that rocked the site, yet the people who lived here rebuilt and continued to inhabit these areas for centuries.

Excavation this season will focus on three main questions. The first focus is on discovering the purpose and function of a partially excavated water storage basin on the southeast portion of the site. Originally identified in 2017, excavation in this basin began in 2021, but has yet to reach the base of this feature. The second focus of this season is on the roadway. At least five phases of this road have been identified, built one on top of the other, persistent from at least the Roman Republican period (though likely dating back to the Etruscan period), through the end of the life of the site. Excavation this season will focus on identifying the continuation of this road and better understanding the movement between the two terraces. Finally, this season with focus on understanding the overall movement of water on the site from the natural springs through each relevant feature during the various phases of use. Volunteers will help us investigate all three of these questions.

An important component of the excavations is its Archaeological Field School that supervises the immediate excavations and offers lectures and other educational opportunities. Academic credit is available to those who wish. In addition, we have provided opportunities for graduate students to develop thesis projects, publish papers, and present findings at venues including the Archaeological Institute of America’s Annual meeting. Members of the archaeological field school will be required to attend regular evening lectures and a number of short excursions to other nearby sites and museums.

Period(s) of Occupation: Etruscan; Roman Republican; Roman Imperial, Late Antique, Medieval

Monday through Friday we leave for the site at 7:30 AM. Work is scheduled from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. Lunch will be from 12:00 to 1:00 PM "in the field." Please be aware that all participants are expected to assist in a rotational schedule of daily chores such as cleaning up after meals. The day will be spent either digging under the Umbrian sun at Coriglia or in the lab. Participants will learn how to use basic archaeological tools: trowels, shovels, pick axes and wheelbarrows. In the lab, participants will receive hands-on instruction in cleaning and identifying artifacts as well as in sorting, documenting, and cataloging the finds. At 7:00 PM, the group will meet for dinner in the Convent cloister. Dinner and lectures are mandatory. The dinner menu is “set” but dietary restrictions are accommodated with advanced notice. While digging up exciting finds occupies the week, we try to keep weekends free so that participants can explore Italy. Orvieto's central location allows for easy access to most points of interest in Italy; it is an hour from Rome, an hour and a half to Florence by train.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No previous experience is required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Participants will stay at the S. Lorenzo in Vineis Convent a 15th century monastery, located across a small valley, a 30 minute walk or 5 minute bus ride, from Orvieto. The residence has bathrooms, showers, a laundry machine, and drying racks. The excavations will end on June 26th. Please note that the night of June 27th will be the last night that participants for our project may stay at the convent.

Academic Credit:
Optional academic credit is offered through the Saint Anselm College Summer School for an additional fee. Students may earn 4 or 8 course credit hours in the archaeological field school. Please get in touch with the director if you are interested.

Contact Information:

Amanda Chen

4415 Warwick Blvd.

Kansas City



United States

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