Samshvilde Summer School in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology 2019

This listing expired on February 22, 2019. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Samshvilde, GE

Season: July 15, 2019 to August 6, 2019

Application Deadline: February 22, 2019

Deadline Type: Exact date


Program Type:
Field school, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

University of Georgia (Tbilisi)

Project Director:
Professor David Berikashvili, University of Georgia (Tbilisi); Isabelle Coupal, M.A., University of Montreal (Canada)

Project Description:

Samshvilde is a historic city situated in the Republic of Georgia. Although historic sources inform us that it was this urban political-economic center was founded in the 5th century CE, our project has now detected proof of occupation dating back to the Neolithic period. Since 2012, excavations have been conducted at two locations. The first is the citadel next to the main fortification wall of the city; the other is the burial space near the 8th century Sioni Church. Excavations at the citadel have so far unearthed archaeological deposits of 1.3 m depth belonging to the high-late medieval centuries (11th-13th centuries). In 2018 a Late Bronze Age pit burial (possibly 13-12th centuries BCE), underlying medieval contexts was discovered inside the citadel walls. Various types of artefacts have been unearthed from the citadel, including ceramics, metal, stone, glass and bone items. The focus in the Sioni section is the excavation of human remains. An initial interpretation of the graves discovered here is that they belong to citizens killed during the invasion of the Turkmen leader, King of Tabriz – Jahan Shah in the 15th century, although further excavations are required to confirm this.

Program Description: Samshvilde Summer School is an intensive three-week course in basic archaeological and bioarchaeological practice. Trainees will have the unique opportunity to participate in excavations at Samshvilde’s royal medieval citadel (11th-13th cent. AD) and Sioni ‘cemetery’. In this course, trainees will learn a variety of methodological skills and gain hands-on experience necessary for becoming a professional archaeologist. The objective for this course is to give trainees a wide variety of basic knowledge about archaeological practice and a basic training in osteology and bioarchaeology. Because we consider field experience to be essential we will focus on hands-on tasks that can only be learned while on the field.


Training includes:

  1. Field work. You will learn archaeological and grave context excavation methodology, field data recording techniques, elevation measure taking and finds collecting. Additionally, you will receive a safety training about on-site procedures.

  2. Post-excavation finds processing. You will learn how to efficiently clean, describe, record, draw, photograph, conserve, and archive finds. There is a wide range of artifacts at Samshvilde, including (but not limited to) ceramic and glass vessels, ceramic building material (CBM), coins, gemstones, metal artifacts, human and animal bones.

  3. Seminars. These will be mainly to teach trainees about South Caucasus’ history and archaeology, but will also be held in various related topics (to be determined).

Trainees will also learn about Georgian history and culture during two day trips on Sundays, and with a visit of Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi at the end of the summer school. We will also have traditional Georgian supras, a well-known feast accompanied by wine and many toasts!

At the end of this course, trainees are expected to be proficient in: Archaeological and grave context excavation, documentation and archiving, basic artefact conservation, scientific photography, technical drawing, basic osteology


Serious candidates are invited to read the information document below in order to get all necessary information our the course. Please download, fill and send your application form to before February 22nd, 2019. First come, first served!

Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze Age, Medieval

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: Because this is course aimed at beginners, applicants are NOT required to have previous experience in archaeology or bioarchaeology. Applicants must be fit to do physical labor, be proficient in English, and have an interest in archaeology.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Full room and board is included with tuition. Staff and students will reside in a dig house in the village of Samshvilde, which is only a 15 minute walk from the site. It is newly renovated and has all necessary commodities. The following will be provided: food, electricity, WiFi, hot water, showers, toilets, beds with mattresses, washing machine for clothing, a kitchen and workspace. The following will NOT be provided: bedding. There is a small shop in the village where you can buy additional treats. Dinners are prepared by our housekeeper. You may bring additional food of your own. Please communicate with the organizers if you have dietary restrictions or allergies. Cost: 4750 Georgian lari (1800 USD)

Contact Information:

Isabelle Coupal

3150 Jean-Brillant, Office C-3086



H3T 1N8


Phone: 514-343-6111 ext.3596

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