On 2017 for the first time participants at the Necropolis of Pintia have the opportunity to join two different courses; a four weeks archaeological program and a two weeks osteological program.
Those who join us at Pintia will excavate burials around 2,500 years old and handle the well-preserved grave goods that belonged to a pre-Roman indigenous culture that excelled in metallurgy, agriculture, and textiles.
The necropolis belonged to the Vacceans, an Iron Age people with Celtic links that settled in north-central Spain. The cemetery was in use between the end of the 5th century BC and the 2nd century. The Romans took over Pintia during their conquest of Iberia.
For the past 12 years, ArchaeoSpain and the University of Valladolid have worked together at Pintia to help create a window into the lives of the ancient Vaccean culture.
Surrounded by Castilla’s idyllic plains, Medieval castles, and Roman ruins, the Pintia-ArchaeoSpain crews have excavated over the last decade around 150 cremation tombs boasting a dizzying array of grave goods. The study of these tombs, belonging to men, women, and children, help us understand the social organization of these pre-Roman people.
For example, during one excavation campaign we excavated 44 tombs containing around 600 man-made artifacts. In one area around 100 giant limestone slabs (some weighing nearly a metric ton) protected the tombs from subsequent farming and left the funerary jars and grave goods in excellent condition: daggers, broaches, spear points, grills, knives, tongs, tweezers, shaving blades, and necklaces.
One unique characteristic of Pintia grave goods are the ceramic copies of jewelry and other objects that are buried with their owners’ ashes and bone fragments.
This coming summer we will continue digging in the necropolis in June and July. Students will learn excavation techniques (from picks and shovels to fine-tool excavation at tomb level), archaeological mapping, and how to extract and process artifacts ranging from 2,500-year-old swords to children’s toys. You will also learn how to take samples of the biological materials found in the cremation jars, excavation photography, and how to clean and classify bones.
In addition to the excavation and artifact work, there will be a number of seminars and workshops related to the fieldwork. Medical professors will teach us about the human skeleton and our pottery expert will teach us how the Vacceans created and decorated their ceramic wares.
And not only will you learn about archaeology, students are guaranteed an authentic Spanish experience away from the tourist traps. Our village neighbors will take you in like long-lost relatives, making sure that you eat, drink, and dance enough to compensate for all the picking, shoveling, and sifting. The villagers are proud to be the guardians of this archaeological site and their involvement in the conservation of Pintia is a privilege.
Do not worry if you do not speak Spanish because it is not a prerequisite to participate. Bilingual archaeologists will guide you during your stay. Those that sign up, though, will be immersed in the language daily and we hope that they will take advantage of the program to improve their spoken Spanish. The summer heat and the physical nature of the excavation will make the work demanding, so participants should be in reasonable physical condition and in good health.
But hard work always reaps its benefits once an archaeologist relaxes and reflects on the day’s excavation. With this mantra in place, the group will make time several times each week to experience Spain away from the wheelbarrows and sieves, either by hanging out at the village pub or by visiting several nearby Roman and Medieval sites of interest.
In cooperation with students’ universities, academic credit can be obtained. (visit our FAQ)
PLEASE NOTE that the partnership between the University of Valladolid and ArchaeoSpain means that ArchaeoSpain will handle all logistical and administrative efforts prior to the excavation. Once at Pintia, the university is responsible for everything else, including the fieldwork, seminars, workshops, bilingual team leaders, room and board, and excursions.
Pintia is one of the longest continuous archaeological projects in all of Spain, and part of your fee goes toward financing the excavation.
SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS
Each week the archaeologists will prepare seminars and workshops concerning the fieldwork and the history of Pintia.
Participants will also receive the book “De la Región Vaccea a la Arqueología Vaccea,” information on Pintia and the necropolis, powerpoint presentations of the topics below, and Pintia T-shirts.
Pintia has provided scholars with more information about the pre-Roman Vaccean culture than any other site in Spain.
The city, extending over 170 acres, has been occupied for around 2,500 years. Archaeologists have uncovered a residential settlement, a necropolis (cemetery), a body cremation site, and an artisan neighborhood. In the latter, archaeologists discovered that the artisans had their own living quarters, pottery workshops, and necropolis.
Protecting the city was a large moat and defensive walls 1 kilometer long, which the invading Romans later tore down and filled in. A few years ago the Pintia teams excavated part of wall and from the remains archaeologists estimate the wall to have been around 6 meters (20 feet) high and 7 meters (23 feet) thick. One of the wall’s towers measured 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter.
In 1870, after centuries of abandon, local farmers discovered bones and ancient artifacts, and informed the local authorities. Modern research led by the University of Valladolid began in 1979 and continues today.
The main urban settlement is called Las Quintanas, which occupies about a third of the total site. Excavation and aerial photography have revealed a well-developed layout with a system of primary and secondary roads. Houses were built of adobe, wood, and mud walls, with straw roofs and floors of compressed earth.
Domestic activity centered around the hearth, with complementary areas for storage, food preparation, domestic ovens, and textiles. From the results of the work done in the necropolis and from classical historians, archaeologists think that the social structure of the Vacceans was led by a warrior oligarchy.
Archaeologists have identified distinct periods of occupation between the 4th century BC and the 7th century, with the pre-Roman epochs being the richest archaeologically.
Several of these periods ended violently, as invaders or disaster forced inhabitants to abandon their belongings in homes that soon collapsed. Recent excavations have uncovered homes with their contents intact. Almost frozen in time, these discoveries have provided archaeologists with a true snapshot into the daily lives of these people. After the Roman conquest, the city of Pintia enjoyed a peaceful existence.
Consequently, the archaeological data from this time period is not as spectacular as the violent times prior.
Nevertheless, archaeologists can revel in the decline of Pintia, which occurred between the 4th and 7th centuries. During this time part of the city was used as a Visigothic cemetery and archaeologists have excavated about 100 tombs that have yielded exceptional artifacts as well as evidence of different funerary practices.
For more information, the university’s Pintia website, in Spanish and English, is www.pintiavaccea.es.
Pintia program participants will reside at the site’s research facilities in the small town of Padilla de Duero for the duration of the program.
SEE MAP HERE
Our crew will share a large, dorm-style room with bunk beds, with adjacent bathrooms and showers. All bedding is provided.
Food will be prepared by a local cook and meals will be eaten in the research facility’s dining room. We will have a mid-work snack on site.
Breakfast in Spain is a light meal, while lunch and dinner are more substantial. Please let us know if you are a vegetarian or if you require a special diet so that we can discuss the best way to accommodate your needs.
dates & fees
Program Dates 2017:
• Full Room and Board
• Seminars and workshops
• Pintia literature
• Excursions and other activities
• Airport pick-up/drop-off on first and last days of program
• Medical Insurance
• Application fee
• Administrative costs
Part of your fee will go toward the research project
Fees DO NOT include airfare.
To reserve a space, you must pay a $300 application fee.
The remainder of the program fee will be due by APRIL 15.
Application fees will be refunded if the applicant is not selected.
Rolling applications start when this page is updated for the following year. We accept applications until all spaces are filled.
Cancellation and Refund Policy:
You should begin making travel plans as soon as your place in the group is reserved, and you should complete them upon being notified of your selection. We strongly recommend that participants purchase travel insurance to cover all needs including medical, accident, baggage loss, delays, and personal liability.
ArchaeoSpain and the University of Valladolid are not travel providers, nor are registered travel agents. Your travel arrangements to and from Spain are subject to the terms and conditions of your travel agency. In the rare event that the program is cancelled, ArchaeoSpain and the University of Valladolid will refund program fees, but is not responsible for non-refundable airline or other tickets or payments or any similar penalties that may be incurred. It is your responsibility to protect yourself against airline and travel agency cancellation fees.
Participants are covered by an insurance policy through the University of Valladolid that provides medical and surgical treatment and prescription drugs in case of accident or sudden illness.
This insurance has always been reliable and in the past it has worked well for most unexpected illnesses or accidents. It is limited, though, so we recommend that participants have some backup insurance so they can be covered in case of more serious events. Please contact our staff for more information.
European students should bring an EHIC card with them.
Right of Refusal:
ArchaeoSpain and the University of Valladolid reserve the right to refuse an applicant’s selection. This is a rare occurrence and is most likely due to a person’s inability to meet health requirements or in the interest of group compatibility.
Once in the field, the program director reserves the right to send a participant away from the program should that person’s behavior compromise the safety, research objectives, and general performance of the group, or violate Spanish laws, regulations, or customs.
The Pintia crew will also visit some amazing historical attractions in the region. We believe that exploring these sites is essential to understanding the context of the archaeological work at Pintia. These excursions are included in the program fees.
Visits may vary depending on your session dates and on the excavation schedule.
“Digging tombs is a very specific responsibility and privilege. Uncovering the urns and bringing that person back into memory was incredible. I also learned about ancient Spanish heritage alongside modern Spanish culture. Spain is beautiful and we saw corners of the country most people don’t see. We are so lucky to have seen a full range of what Spain has to offer, from modern to ancient, and from city to country.”
—Elizabeth Melampy, Harvard University
“My month in Spain was an amazing experience that I will never forget. At first I found the idea of living in a foreign country with people I didn’t know a daunting prospect, however after taking the plunge I never looked back. The archaeology was fascinating and rewarding – there’s nothing like the satisfaction of discovering your first tomb.”
—Rachel Whittington, Durham University
“Archaeology is all about getting your hands dirty, and the Pintia course shows you what a career in field archaeology is really like. We were encouraged to take part in every step of the excavation process, and all the staff were experienced in their fields and helped play a part in making our experience well-informed, enjoyable and rewarding.Also, we were immersed in Spanish culture as each week we went on well-organised excursions to various historic cities. We had plenty of time to let our hair down too, with a canoe trip down the Duero river and an exhilarating fiesta experience in nearby Peñafiel. This course is first-rate, an unforgettable month.”
—Aileen Tierney, County Meath, Ireland
“I couldn’t have asked for a better field school experience, and I’m grateful to all the people who shared that experience with me – my hard-working fellow students and the always-informative Pintia staff, the staff of ArchaeoSpain and the University of Valladolid, and the kind and hospitable people of Padilla de Duero.”
—Sara Deurell, University of Louisville
Read Sara’s blog on her time on the Pintia dig
“I learned that the past has its own pace — it cannot be rushed. The dead require patience in order to coax out their secrets.”
—Andrew Lisec, Chicago, Illinois
Read Andrew’s blog on excavating Pintia (click Newer Post at the bottom to see more entries about the dig)
And Andrew’s Pintia photos can be seen here
“No matter how much you study at school about archaeological theory and practice, nothing compares to actually working at an archaeological site – from how to dig, draw, clean pottery, and excavate a tomb, I’ve probably gained more practical knowledge in a month here than in two years at college.”
—Shane Shelby, Columbia University
“I think is is very important that we were able to try almost every excavation process as well as experiencing the post-excavation techniques. It was great that the archaeologists gave us so much freedom so we were actually able to learn and practice. And I felt honored that we were welcomed into the community and considered part of the village, even if only for a month. One of my favorite experiences was playing dominoes in the bar with one of the locals.”
—Katherine Jablonski, Tulane University
“I had done one other dig before so I knew the general outline of how an excavation was supposed to go, but this program definitely helped me understand the process in more detail and experience everything from breaking ground to taking soil samples. And the staff was amazing. Both on and off the site they helped us get the most out of the program. They helped us when we had any problems and gave us all constructive criticism during the dig and lab work.”
—Annelies Van de Ven, University of St. Andrews
Read Annelies’s Careers Wiki Post on Pintia for St. Andrews
“I will never forget excavating Tomb 262 with my great friends Jena, Rita, and Alvaro. It was an amazing experience that required an incredible amount of patience, but once we had uncovered all the pottery there was no better feeling than holding something that was fully intact and created over 2,000 years ago.”
—Benjamin Raymond, James Madison University
“I learned all the skills I need to make me competent in the field: what to look for, how to excavate, drawing, photography and restoration. And the staff is amazing. There were never any divisions between instructors and students. We were like a big family.”
—Katie Daniel, Ohio State University
“Taking out my first Iron Age tomb is an experience I will never forget, which felt especially gratifying after the two weeks of digging to reach it. And visiting the different Spanish sites provided a wide range of experiences to add to our increasing knowledge of Spain.”
—Nicholas Chaudakshetrin, Exeter University
“I would rate the staff 10 out of 10. All of them clearly pour their hearts into this site.”
—Troy Cunio, University of Central Florida
“This past month we have learned how to excavate, measure, map and analyze tombs and other archaeological artifacts. It was a true hands-on experience as the staff and professors let us fully participate in the excavation process. I recommend this program to anyone who wants a practical introduction into archaeology and who wants to have a more extensive view in the study of ancient history.”
—Victoria Schuppert, Wheaton College
“The archaeology I experienced during this program is something I could have never found in a class or book. I had read about the excavation process, the mapping and surveying, the drawing and more, but it wasn’t until I actually was able to experience it firsthand that I knew what it all meant. And I really learned what it was like to live in a Spanish environment. I will never forget the time in Padilla de Duero. It was so wonderful getting to know everyone, especially because we all came from such different backgrounds.”
—Emily Cleland, St. Thomas University
“I knew next to nada about its history when I came to Spain, but when you eat and breath the past it’s hard not to walk away with a lot. There is not a high-enough rating for the staff.”
—Jessica Pearson, La Trobe University
“We had the opportunity to study a site on paper, in the field and speak one-on-one with the professional archaeologists who have dedicated their lives to Pintia. I never thought I’d feel at home outside my hometown, but this month changed my mind.”
—Victoria Weaver, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
“I will never forget the morning I went out early with a few others to uncover the first tomb. I got such an adrenaline rush when we exposed the pottery and the dagger. I spent all day in the trench lifting finds out of the tomb, which was so rewarding after all that hard work. Before I went to Pintia I knew very little about how the evidence of ancient history was actually gathered, but now I feel like I know a great deal, from how to excavate the trenches and handle the archaeological material to mapping and processing the tombs in the lab. The work requires a lot of patience and effort, but the rewards of excavating tombs, going on fantastic excursions and just getting to know lots of really interesting people are incredible!”
—Henry Clarke, Oxford University
“Archaeology is hard work, requiring reliance on others in order for the digging to run smoothly. But it is very rewarding work when you have that sense of wonder when you remove your first pottery sherd or human bone or bronze broach. Digging, brushing, and feeling that sense of discovery each time is awesome. There is a good taste of everything, from historical sites to nature walks to the food and digging each day… there was never a dull moment.”
—Landon Perlett, University of Saskatchewan
“For those planning to take on this adventure, I would say to use siesta time for sleeping, take a daily journal of everything you do, bring a loaded iPod and a positive attitude. The work is well worth it when the day is over, but everything here is what you make of it. The cuisine is superb, especially if you’re willing to try new things, and local people are warm and inviting. The staff at Pintia are incredible: prepared, energetic and they worked hard every day alongside us. The best care was taken for all aspects of the trip and no detail was passed.”
—Michelle Whipp, Louisiana State University
“The Pintia dig provided a perfect introduction to the complete archaeological process, from swinging a pick and shovel, to excavating and conserving finds, and all the steps between. And all of this practical knowledge was supplemented by an education in the Vaccean people to provide context to the finds. There is a thrill unlike any other when you remove a pot from the dirt and you realise that you are holding something that was put into the ground 2,500 years ago by another human being.”
—Trevor Jordan, Sydney, Australia
“It would be impossible to sum up everything I learned in a few sentences, but if you go on this trip you will learn. The lectures were very informative and, paired with the digging, were a wonderful opportunity. But I was happiest in the trenches with a pickaxe, shovel, sieve or brush in hand. It was the experience as a whole – the ups, downs, frustrations, excitement, the good, the bad, the ugly (and after a day in the trenches you ARE ugly) – that made this such a worthwhile experience.”
—Stephanie Bullard, Springfield, Ohio
“The program exceeded my expectations and the dig was a wonderful experience. I really enjoyed all of the excursions, canoeing the Duero river, and attending the town festival. And I will always remember visiting the prehistoric caves in Santillana del Mar. I am still incapable of putting the experience into words.”
—Leah Palmer, Oakton Community College
“I love the Spanish lifestyle! Also, I learned that Spain has an amazing history and too many interesting historical and archaeological sites for one trip. I would recommend the program to anyone new to archaeology who wants to get a feel for what it really involves, to people interested in experiencing another culture at close quarters, and also to those who love doing jigsaw puzzles (handy when trying to piece together broken pottery).”
—Cristy Gelling, University of Pittsburgh
“I think most anyone would get something out of Pintia but it will appeal most to people who really want to learn more about Spain and get hands-on experience with the excavations. All of it is such an immensely cultural interaction that anyone interested in people will get a tremendous feeling of understanding of a world outside their own, as well as a nice bit of archaeology and history.”
—Scott Brownlie, Kent State University
“I’ll never forget being the first person in 2,400 years to see a Vaccean spearhead as it appeared in the ground. I loved learning about this forgotten culture whose way of life we are bringing back to light. We are on the front-line of history.”
—Nik Cox, Rotorua, New Zealand
“I will remember everything. The excursions were amazing, and being able to dig at a place that no human being has set eyes on in the past 2,000 years is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
—Melida Isern, Roma, Texas
“Every day was a learning experience, from being on the site to experiencing Spanish culture. The pottery-making session led by Carlos was amazing. He is a magician! But our time excavating the wall was my favorite because everyone really bonded there, from our mud fights, wheelbarrow rides and races to the ‘pool’ we created. These memories will always be close to my heart.”
—Jingyi Zhang, Durham University
“Two of the best learning experiences were the osteology class where we identified and analyzed human and animal remains, and the pottery workshop where we made a box in the shape of a bull and used traditional decoration techniques. Also, I arrived with essentially no Spanish, and I can now say that I left with a signficantly wider vocabulary than before!”
—Jessica Waterworth, Dunedin, New Zealand