Gardens of the Hesperides: The Rural Archaeology of the Loukkos Valley

This listing expired on June 1, 2020. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Lixus، Morocco

Season: June 13, 2020 to July 18, 2020

Session Dates: June 13-20, 2020 (Introduction to Lab) June 21-July 18, 2020 (Excavation)

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Institut National des Sciences de l'Archéologie et du Patrimoine, Rabat (INSAP); University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK)

Project Director:
Aomar Akerraz (INSAP), Stephen Collins-Elliott, (UTK)

Project Description:

The multi-year archaeological project Gardens of the Hesperides: The Rural Archaeology of the Loukkos Valley comprises a joint Moroccan-American (INSAP-University of Tennessee) initiative to survey and reconstruct the economic development of the Loukkos valley around the ancient city of Lixus (near Larache, Morocco)—a major entrepôt along the Atlantic coast, and in classical mythology, one of the purported locations of the Gardens of the Hesperides.

The project has four primary objectives:
1. Model rural settlement patterns in the valley of the Oued Loukkos from the Atlantic coast near Larache (Lixus) to El Qsar el-Kebir (Oppidum Novum), in order to assess levels of settlement hierarchy and complexity from the Iron Age onward.
2. Model the exploitation of plant and animal resources around Lixus and the consumption of both terrestrial and maritime commodities, toward reconstructing a holistic picture of the ancient rural economy.
3. Determine the impact of the provincialization of Morocco by the Roman emperor Claudius after 40 CE on the hinterland around Lixus.
4. Compare the evolution of the regional economy of the Ager Lixitanus at a broad level with that of the western Mediterranean, to evaluate the level of integration of Lixus in the Roman Empire.

The 2020 season involves the second season of excavation of a small rural site in the hinterland of Lixus, following upon the 2019 excavation of a press facility located on the Atlantic coast. You will be introduced firsthand to Roman archaeology through the experience of conducting fieldwork in Morocco.

Participants are housed in apartments in the modern city of Larache, around 60 miles south of Tangier and the Strait of Gibraltar. No archaeological experience is required or expected! During a preliminary week of lessons and practical tutorials (June 13-20), you will receive training in site mapping and GIS, zooarchaeology, soil sampling and flotation for archaebotanical remains, as well as artifact identification and processing. You will be trained in current excavation methodology, involving open-area excavation and single-context recording, to carry out the excavation of a Roman rural site for four weeks (June 21-July 18). As part of this program, you will go on day trips to tour other cities and sites of historical and archaeological importance, including Tangier, Tétouan, Banasa, Rabat (Chellah), and Volubilis.

Period(s) of Occupation: Multi-period, but research focus is on the Mauretanian III to Roman periods (ca. 300 BCE - 500 CE).

This project is covered by UTK Programs Abroad, providing 6 undergraduate credit hours offered from the University of Tennessee (CLAS 491: Archaeology in Morocco). For registration in the study abroad program, see

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 5 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No experience is required. Students will be trained in excavation techniques and methodology.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Room, board, and transportation are included in the program fee ($2,999). Participants are housed in apartments in Larache, Morocco. Breakfast is provided for each apartment, with lunch taken in the field. Group dinners are provided every night, Monday through Saturday, while Sunday is a free day for individuals.

Academic Credit:
6 undergraduate credit hours offered from the University of Tennessee (CLAS 491: Archaeology in Morocco) Students in the southeastern US are encouraged to seek in-state tuition rates through the Academic Common Market (

Contact Information:

Stephen Collins-Elliott

1101 McClung Tower, Department of Classics





Phone: (865) 974-8910

Fax: (865) 974-7173

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