Geopysical Exploration and Archaeological Excavation (Transylvania, Romania)

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have cancelled fieldwork for 2020 and the information below may not reflect that.

Location: Vetel - Rapolt, RO

Season: June 7, 2020 to August 1, 2020

Session Dates: Session 1: June 7 - July 4, 2020 Session 2: July 5 - August 1, 2020

Application Deadline: March 18, 2019

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:

RPA Certified:

Archaeological Techniques and Research Center (Canada) and Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilizations (Deva, Romania)

Project Director:
Dr. Andre Gonciar (Archaeological Techniques and Research Center - Canada); Isabel Morris (Princeton University); Dr. Marius Barbu, Dr. Gica Baestean (Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilizations)

Project Description:

This program is designed for participants who want to acquire intensive, hands on, practical experience in both archaeological excavation and geophysical exploration. Our research area is situated between the richest gold deposits in Europe, the Dacian Kingdom’s political and religious capital and its fortified satellites in the Carpathian Mountains, and Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, the Roman capital of the Dacian provinces and the first Roman city North of the Danube. Southwestern Transylvania was a highly integrated military, political, and economic region. During the Roman colonial occupation, 102-271 AD, our target area, by the intersection of the Mures River and the main Roman road linking Sarmizegetusa to Apulum, shows a very dynamic and intensive synthesis of Roman provincial life, where a multitude of processes of colonization and creolization take place side by side.

Our ground penetrating radar (GPR) surveys have already revealed a rural villa of “palatial” size, unique in the Dacian Provinces, covering ca. 1.2ha of built space. We will continue excavating this rich environment, with 2 story buildings, painted walls, potential colonnades, several buildings outside the villa complex itself and a plethora of artifacts.

Our Ground Penetrating (GPR) Workshop provides the most intensive and encompassing hands on training on the market. Our participants will become fully verse in using the two core systems for shallow exploration (depth of 4m/13ft or less), respectively 250MHz and 500MHz antennas, in both rough terrain and cart configurations. Our case study sites at the Uroi medieval castle and Roman Micia municipium and castrum provide an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention (from modern villages to the construction and operation of thermal power plant), and any additional and as-yet undiscovered features.

Period(s) of Occupation: Geophysics (GPR), Roman (Imperial, Provincial); Late (Roman) Iron Age - Dacian; Daco-Roman

Excavation (3 weeks) of a rural villa of “palatial” size, unique in the Dacian Provinces (Transylvania), covering ca. 1ha of built space. Intensive ground penetrating radar (GPR) application workshop, including theory, field exploration and data analysis (5 days). Geophysical training will be conducted on the two core GPR systems for shallow investigations (depth of 4m/13ft or less), respectively with 250MGz and 500MGz transducers, in rough terrain and cart configurations.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 4 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None required. Training in excavation, geophysics (GPR) survey and processing provided. Various lectures will be offered throughout the program.

Room and Board Arrangements:
We house everyone in double or triple occupancy rooms in the village houses. Every house is equipped with bathrooms. You will be guests of Romanian families and will have a chance to discover the true sense of old fashion Transylvanian hospitality. You will experience some of the nicest aspects of Eastern European country life, indulging in your guest families home made cookies and a variety of  home made traditional  beverages. Generally speaking, you will have all the advantages of a country life with the comfort of an urban environment. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included during the work week and we will eat as a team. Beware that Romanian cuisine is meat oriented (although we do our best to satisfy vegetarian diets as well). Cost: $2295 for the 4 week session

Contact Information:

Dr. A. Gonciar

Minnesota Ave.


New York


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