Geophysics Exploration and Roman Villa 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 6, 2021 to July 31, 2021

Session Dates: Session 1: June 6 - July 3, 2021; Session 2: July 4 - July13, 2021; NEW Session 3: August 1 - August 28, 2021

Application Deadline: March 31, 2021

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

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); Dr. Isabel Morris (Princeton University); Dr. Marius Barbu, Dr. Gica Baestean (Museum of Dacian and Roman Civilizations)

Project Description:

The Geophysics (GPR) Exploration and Roman Excavation program provides a unique opportunity for participants who strive for a career in field work/research to acquire two sets of skills of paramount importance. The field school integrates 3 weeks of excavation theory, method and practice on an extraordinary site, respectively a palatial size Roman Villa Rustica, with 5 days of intensive field Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) training and research, adding an exceptionally useful and lucrative skill set for shallow subsurface exploration and mapping, directly applicable to the fields of archaeology, CRM, forensics, urban planning, etc. As a result, this program offers our participants the possibility to acquire a substantial technical and professional edge in today’s field/urban survey and exploration job market, both in Academia and in the private sector.

Our Roman Villa and Settlement Excavation addresses the construction of identity perception, presentation and representation on one of the most dynamic borders of the Roman Empire.  Our site is situated half way between Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana and Apulum, the two most important cities of the Dacian Provinces, very close to the largest gold deposits in Europe in the Apuseni Mountains, and on the main Imperial road in Dacia. Our ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey from 2015 and 2016 has revealed a rural villa of “palatial” size, unique in the Dacian Provinces, covering ca. 1.2ha of built space. Our test excavations have unearthed a rich environment, with 2 story buildings, painted walls, potential colonnades, several buildings outside the villa complex itself and a plethora of artifacts.

Concurrent with the excavation, the Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) training and research Workshop will allow our participants to explore other Roman and medieval sites in the region. Our GPR research targets are the medieval military fortress of Uroi, and the Roman castrum and municipium of Micia.

These sites, situated in Southern Transylvania (Romania), 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 (such as the construction and operation of a thermal power plant on the site of Micia), and any additional and as-yet undiscovered features.

The comparative approach between the two GPR systems (500MHz and 250MHz) and field configurations (cart and rough terrain), combined with the intensive hands-on, data oriented, results driven focus of the Workshop, as well as the low ratio participant:instructor is guaranteed to provide field GPR training of the highest quality, both in terms of data generation and analysis, and professional deployment and research. Upon completion of this program, participants will have the skill set and knowledge required to plan, conduct, analyze, and interpret successful GPR surveys in any terrestrial setting.  This process will present a variety of anthropogenic and natural challenges, from working in diverse field conditions, to dealing with sites containing a combination of known and unknown modern and ancient features.  The whole experience is intended to be intensive and collaborative, with a focus on experiential learning and application of processing, collecting, and interpreting data to real sites.

Period(s) of Occupation: Geophysics (GPR), Roman (Imperial, Provincial); Medieval

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 (down to depth of 4m/13ft), 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: $2495 for the 4 week session

Contact Information:

Dr. Andre Gonciar

Archaeological Techiques and Research Center (ArchaeoTek Canada)


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