Villa of Titus Archaeological Field School

This listing expired on March 15, 2022. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: 02010 Castel Sant'Angelo, Lazio, Province of Rieti, Italy

Season: May 24, 2022 to June 19, 2020

Application Deadline: February 15, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:

Saint Mary's University

Project Director:
Myles McCallum

Project Description:

The Department of Modern Languages and Classics invites applications for its archaeological field school to be taught onsite at the Villa di Tito (Villa of Titus) in the town of Castel Sant’Angelo (province of Rieti), Italy. Students will participate in an ongoing archaeological research project which involves the excavation of a very large Roman villa that was likely also an imperial estate. The goal of our research is to identify and study the parts of the villa associated with the daily activities and lives of non-elites (farmers, laborers, slaves, etc). We are also interested in documenting environmental changes and the economic life of the community through the analysis the site’s assemblage of zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical remains.

Location of Field School
The town of Castel Sant’Angelo is roughly 90 km northeast of Rome. The site at Castel Sant’Angelo is called colloquially the ‘Villa di Tito’ (Villa of Titus) and the ‘Terme di Tito’ (Baths of Titus), based on the supposition that it was once the property of the emperor Titus (reigned 79 – 81 CE), and possibly the site on his death. The ruins of a concrete, terraced Roman period structure (roughly 60 x 20 metres) have been visible since antiquity, and recent excavations in 2011 have suggest that the structure was a villa. In antiquity, this part of Italy was known as the Sabina, the home of the Sabines, among Rome’s first Italian allies, and the site may also have origins sometime in the third century BCE. The entire area is rich in archaeological sites from the Italian Iron Age and Roman period, and was an important region during the Middle Ages as well, situated along the Via Salaria (Salt Road), which connected Rome to the Adriatic coast of Italy.

History of the Project
This is the fourth year of an ongoing archaeological field project. This May and June we will complete a series of small excavations on the upper terrace of the site, begin excavations within the structure’s cryptoporticus, continue our programs of photogrammetry and geophysics, and process the finds from the 2022 season. Students will be trained in all basic operations associated with archaeological excavation, including digging, finds recovery, sieving, documentation, data entry, photography, drawing, and finds processing. There will also be an environmental archaeology component.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman Imperial; Late Antique (first century BCE to 8th century CE)

In conjunction with the Soprintendenza Archeologica, Belle Arte e Paesaggio di Frosinone, Latina, e Rieti, Saint Mary's and McMaster Universities will engage in a third season of archaeological field work at the so-called Villa of Titus in the province of Rieti. The excavations will focus on a monumental concrete terrace structure, complete with standing architectural remains, crypotoporticus (basement), and decorative elements such as mosaics. The site itself sits on the lower slopes of Monte Terminillo, one of the higher peaks in the Apennines, and directly above Lake Paterno, probably ancient Lacus Cutiliae, what the ancient Italians believed to be the geographical center of Italy and a site sacred to one of their principal deities, Vacuna. The villa, situated near the ancient Via Salaria, is reputed to have been an imperial property first belonging to the Flavians, and possibly also the site where the Flavian emperor Titus passed away. Our excavations in 2018, 2019, and 2022 showed that the villa, which was built in the late first century BCE was destroyed by a major earthquake in the second century CE, which has resulted in an excellent archaeological record for the how the structure was at the time of its demise, in particular its cryptoporticus or basement. There is evidence for a substantial reworking of the site in the Late Antique period. In 2022, our team's goals include excavating two rooms within the cryptoporticus in search of evidence for the daily lives of the villa's slaves and evidence for productive activity. Geophysical prospection (ground penetrating radar) suggests that there were other, very large buildings that were part of the villa complex, at the center of which may have been an artificial lake. Colleagues plan to core the nearby Lago di Paterno/Lacus Cutiliae in search of environmental data to help us reconstruct the ancient environment.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Full time (5 weeks)

Minimum Age: 19

Experience Required: No experience required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Students who are participating in the Villa of Titus field project are housed in a renovated 19th century farmhouse which recently has been converted into a guest house complete with bunks, wardrobes, bathrooms, and showers. At the moment, however, there are no washing machines, so students will have to hand-wash their clothing. Nearby towns and villages are home to shops, coffee bars, restaurants, and bank machines. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided from Monday to Friday. We will typically eat our meals at the guest house, although we will occasionally go out for dinner to local restaurants and pizzerias. For snacks, there are a number of small, local grocery stores that sell all manner of snack items and food. Cost: Students are also required to pay a $2,000 Canadian (roughly $1600 USD) participation fee to Saint Mary's University, which covers costs associated with the field school, including meals, accommodation, and transport to and from the site each day. This fee does NOT include airfare or tuition and fees; students are required to arrange for their travel to and from the field school. In general, student airfare to and from Italy during the summer runs between 800 and 1100 dollars Canadian (depending on the point of departure, airline, and route). Students should also budget some amount of pocket money for the purchase of souvenirs and for entertainment.

Academic Credit:
6.0 credit hours

Contact Information:

Myles McCallum


Nova Scotia

B3H 3C3


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