The Roman Fortress Pulpon Field School offers a hands-on experience in excavation and laboratory at a Roman archaeological site. The highlight of the site is a quadrangular building of unknown function that could have served as a military garrison, as a horreum or as a place where lapis specularis, the first crystal known to be used in windows (Plinius. Nat. Hist. XXXVI, 161) was shaped. This brought economic prosperity to the region in the time of Augustus.
The roman frotress is a colossal building of almost 7000 square meters, perfectly visible from satellite images and one of the largest preserved in Spain from Roman times. To make it simple to understand, it is roughly the size of a soccer field and would have been bigger in its times than the forum of Segóbriga or the amphitheater of Tarraco, the capital of the main Roman province of Hispania.
Roman Fortress is known for the excavations that took place on the 70s, led by Professor M. Sadek of the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Thanks to those works the large building with four towers was discovered, although researchers could not determine when or what might it have been built for. In 1973 the excavations were abandoned and 40 years later we return to the site trying, with modern techniques, to understand the reasons that led to the construction of such an exceptional structure and the historical context in which it was made.
At the Roman Fortress Pulpon you will have a complete immersion in the archaeological process. You will be aware of the laws, regulations and protocols needed before starting a dig. We will tell you about the different methods in surveying: using maps, bibliography, local history, aerial and satellite photography and field walking.
You will be learning the methods and techniques of an archaeological excavation, using tools, of course, but also working with stratigraphy, using record sheets and writing down an excavation diary. Collecting, cleaning and classifying different artifacts will be part of your daily work as well as drawing structures and archaeological materials.
The Excavation Project is licensed by the Directorate General of Culture of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of the Regional Government of Castilla/La Mancha, Spain.
SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS
The main goal for this new season is to deepen into the knowledge of the building plant and its function. The investigation is being focused on the eastern side, for it is different to the other three. Instead of a long concrete wall in between the corner towers, here we find thirteen pillars constructed with sandstone ashlars 80cm high, 74cm wide and 1,40cm long. Each of these pillars has four blocks over the current ground level, 3 under ground level and we have located one more on the top, which representing an original height of at least 8 blocks or, what is the same, 6,5m.
Between the pillars were constructed walls for houses in IVth century AD. Walls were constructed forming rooms. From 2104 to 2017 we have excavated nine of these rooms. Due to the amazing discoveries, like the nails of a complete caliga (military sandal) we will continue investigating this area in.
In 2017 we have also discovered the main door of the building, located on the south wall. In the next campaign we will focus our work on exposing this entry completely.
The late settlement
A wide chronological range of occupation has been verified. Ceramics, coins and fibulae, indicate the existence of an indigenous settlement in the area before the second century BC. The oldest aretine wares (Italian) and some of the fibulae (Aucissa), make reference to the first quarter of the first century AD. There are also numerous examples of hispanic wares from 2-3nd centuries.
We noted that on the 4th century the entire building was reused and even exceeded its perimeter. To this moment we can ascribe numerous finds realized by the Canadian team such as the NW tower pools, waterways or drains located next to the SE tower and the remains of small pillars for an hipocaust placed along the east side.
The late occupation of the building took advantage of the large pillars and use them as the corners of their rooms, constructing walls between them. Within these rooms numerous pieces of bronze, iron, lead, bone, etc were found. Highlighting several coins, as well as thin plaques and bronze pins, slag remains and numerous nails and iron tools like billhooks and sickles, the blade of a small saw and a knife with a triangular shape. Also worth to mention some bone needles and pins to hold the hairstyle, as well as several fragments of glass vessels. Among the ceramic remains highlights several big wine jars, common vessels as bottles, cooking pots, bowls, dishes and sources of terra sigillata: the Roman tableware.
Some of the finds in room e20 excavated in 2017
We will be staying in Jardín de San Bartolomé, a beautiful traditional house located in the centre of the village, next to the church. A 5 minute walk from the hostel you will find the village swimming pool, that you can use and enjoy every day after working at the site.
The house was built in 1840 on a garden belonging to the nearby church. It was named after Saint Bartolomew for at the end of the garden was a hermitage dedicated to the Saint.
It remained closed for 30 years until its recent restoration. The house stands surrounding a typical Castilian courtyard, covered by a skylight. It has been carefully decorated and we will enjoy its varied common areas such as the library, the dining room, the porch or the large garden.
Carrascosa del Campo is a small village located in the centre of Spain (Cuenca, Castilla-La Mancha). It is surrounded by a landscape of small holm oaks between soft hills. The village has a population of 646 inhabitants and its economy is based mainly in agriculture and cattle raising.
Carrascosa is placed 100 km from Madrid, joined by a highway. It takes an hour to get there. The village has a pharmacy and a Health Centre. Carrascosa has a village pool, and there is also an artificial lake with plenty of leisure facilities by the river Valdejudíos.
The church of Our Lady of Nativity (centuries XV and XVI), the House of Scribes (1840) and the House-Palace of the Parada (centuries XVI and XVII), stand out among its monuments. In the countryside we can find excellent examples of popular architecture such as shepherd huts and the ancient sites form the Iron Age and Roman period of Madrigueras, Fuente de la Gota, Cerro de la Muela; and Villaverde and Valdejudíos from the medieval ages.
Services you can find in Carrascosa del Campo:
Even if it is a small village, it has several grocery stores, a pharmacy, etc (if you require special medication, however, we encourage you to bring enough for the time you will be staying with us). By our front door there is a bus stop that connects the town with Madrid and Cuenca.
dates & fees
Program Dates 2018:
July 30 – 18 August
Program Fees Include:
Fees DO NOT include airfare.
To reserve a space, you must pay a $300 application fee. (Included in the price of the program).
The remainder of the program cost will be due by May 10th.
Application fees will be refunded if the applicant is not selected.
Rolling application. We accept applications until all spaces are filled.
Cancellation and Refund Policy:
-Before March 1st: All payments, except for $50 from the application fee, are refundable.
-Between March 1st and April 10th: Application fee non-refundable. The remaining balance is refundable.
-After April 10th: All payments are non-refundable unless your application is rejected by the program director.
You should begin making travel arrangements 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 is not a travel provider nor is a registered travel agent. 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 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.
All ArchaeoSpain participants are covered with an insurance packet that provides medical and surgical treatment and prescription drugs in case of accident or sudden illness. This insurance also provides some compensation for baggage loss or theft. With your program packet we will send you more details regarding this coverage, but you may contact our staff for more information.
European students should bring an EHIC card with them.
Right of Refusal:
ArchaeoSpain reserves 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 and ArchaeoSpain reserve 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.
WORLD HERITAGE AND ROMAN SITES
You will have the opportunity to meet different aspects of the Spanish culture at the excursions. We’ll visit: Toledo, Cuenca and its archaeological museum, the Roman city of Segóbriga, the monastery of Uclés and a Roman mine of lapis specularis.
Toledo, declared World Heritage City, is a very unique place. It is known as the city of the three cultures: Muslim, Christian and Jewish. You will have the opportunity to visit some examples like the mosque of the Cristo de la Luz, the synagogue of The Tránsito or the Cathedral of Toledo. We’ll get lost in its narrow streets, have tapas at its terraces and we will also have time for some shopping.
> Info on Toledo <
It will be very interesting to visit the city of Cuenca, and its Archaeological Museum, where a large collection of Roman material is exhibited, some of which came from the Pulpon site. In the Museum installations you will learn to draw pottery with some of the shards from Pulpon.
> Info on Cuenca <
We will also visit the castle of Zorita, where this year we started a new and exciting program led by the directors of Archaeospain. We will contemplate the marvelous sunset from its towers and enjoy the terrace by the river.
> Info on Zorita castle <
The Roman City of Segóbriga was the cultural, administrative and miner centre of a wide area in the heart of Spain. Plinius the Elder called it “caput celtiberiae”. The city was founded by Iulius
Caesar and thanks to the wealth due to the exploitation of lapis specularis mines in times of Augustus, an ambitious program of public constructions began: a great foro, the theatre, amphitheatre, termae, temples, and circus.
> Info on Segóbriga <
One night we will approach to the fortified city and monastery of Uclés, headquarters of the knights of the medieval Order of Santiago. We’ll also go into one of the mines of lapis specularis.
> Info on Uclés <
Some other surprises are waiting for us in Carrascosa and its surroundings, like cellars where some old folks still meet every day and are happy to invite us to a glass of wine, prepared by themselves.
"This was an excellent field school. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in Roman archaeology. The quality of instruction is excellent—I learned a great deal, not just about Roman Spain, but about the archaeological process as a whole. The style of archaeology was very different than that of the United States, which is due in part to the theoretical differences between continents and in part to differing landscapes and histories. The method and pace of excavation was much different than that to which I am accustomed. I had never in my life so much as touched a pickaxe before this dig and I had barely used a wheelbarrow. We were taking down the trench at a rate of a level a day (and these levels were sometimes 30 centimeters in depth!). There were things about this rapid pace of excavation that I did not agree with, such as the somewhat piecemeal method of mapping the unit. We did not use Cartesian coordinates, but instead used the northwestern and southwestern corners as two corners of a triangle, with whatever point we were mapping as the third corner. We did not map everything we found, but only the ‘interesting’ artifacts. Of course, if we had mapped every single rock we found, I would still be in Spain, mapping. It was a constant balance between the need for speed and the need for proper scientific excavation.
This is not to say that science lost to speed. Far from it! Though the somewhat strange ‘triangle’ method made for shoddy plotting of artifacts in the field, when we returned to our headquarters we were able to plot those points with precision. Everyone took very detailed notes of what was done every day and made plan maps, so at the end of the dig there were seventeen different accounts of what was done. If one person didn’t record something, sixteen other people did. Everything was also documented photographically. Catalina and Dionisio’s knowledge of the archaeology of the region was extensive. They could identify a lead pipe from a tiny, shredded bit of white-ish metal and spot an intact Roman sandal in the concrete-like soil. They were very good at answering our questions when they knew the answer (which was most of the time) and telling us when they didn’t. They were very good and patient teachers.
This program was mainly focused on doing archaeology (as one would expect from a field school), but we also went on weekend excursions to places of interest nearby. For example, we toured the cities of Toledo and Cuenca, visited the Roman sites of Segóbriga and Ercávica, and explored the lapis specularis mines. We also got to really experience Spanish culture—we lived in the small village of Carrascosa del Campo, very far from the tourist trail. We made friends in the town, relaxed in the plaza, took our siesta at the village pool, and (in my case) attended Mass in the beautiful 16th century church. For those three short weeks, we became a part of daily life in Carrascosa, an experience that was just as valuable as the excavation itself.
I would highly recommend Roman Fortress Pulpón to any archaeology student in need of a field school credit (note that this program does not itself issue credit). The archaeology is fascinating, the quality of instruction is excellent, the environment is safe and conducive to learning, and Spain is a really amazing country!"
Katherine Sargent, 2016
"Taking a vacation like this is a lot different than a normal tour of a country. Leaving ArchaeoSpain doesn't feel like the end of some grand adventure, but like the soft, satisfying shutting of a book. Of course, the weekend trips to old cities and ruins were amazing, but the greatest appeal of a trip like this is in much smaller moments. Sitting down in a beautiful garden to cheese and a cold drink after a long, hot morning. Chatting and complaining about how much ceramics there are to clean. Friendly rivalries between teams. Pulling up tables outside the local restaurant at night, sitting across from the huge sandstone church, and ordering cheap drinks. Gathering around to look at some interesting artifact someone found.
These moments become so special because a trip like this attracts such an interesting, diverse group of people. A love of history gives everyone common ground to bond over, but everyone's unique interests and backgrounds is what makes them memorable and fun to be around. There was someone there who told me an incredibly detailed history of the Titanic. My roommate was a classicist. One person was an art historian. Two architects were on the trip that made amazing models of what the ruin we were digging probably looked like. One person specialized in the archaeological study of bones. One person was a singer. There were people from France, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Mexico. Discovering new things with people you wouldn't otherwise meet, that's what makes a trip like this great.
Then, of course, there was the archaeology itself. That was definitely a bit more of an acquired taste, but it was still a rewarding experience. Even if the process of digging seems painfully slow sometimes, watching as the piles of discarded dirt steadily grows and grows is a very satisfying and concrete reminder of how much you have actually done. And, even if you only find pottery shards and bone fragments most of the time, seeing the museum where your findings are going to go and hearing the conclusions at the end of the trip really makes you feel like you have done something good."... " Pulpon sits on top of a hill, so it gives you a completely unobstructed view of rolling hills covered in golden grasses and huge sunflower fields. Out there in the countryside, the only signs of modern civilization are a rarely used road and the aqueduct and wind turbines in the distance. And every morning, upon arriving at the site, you are greeted by the sun rising over the mountains..."
Jacob Klein, 2016
“Ash holes and loom weights constituted regular, yet oh so special, moments of celebration! And finally, the discovery of criss-crossing pre-Roman walls, under the already dubious configuration of ashlars, left us with an unsolved mystery ready to be tapped into next season…
Yet what I enjoyed most was all the wonderful and crazy people willing to get up at 5:30 to engage in the Sisyphean task of brushing dirt away from dirt in 40C heat five days a week, while running with bulls at local feasts and sleeping on medieval castle torture towers under the stars during the weekends.”
Alexandra Levitas, 2015
“I really could not have hoped for a more wonderful introduction to both archaeology and Spain itself! I enjoyed every moment, from swimming in the pool to taking the wheel barrow to our excursions to other towns.”
Celeste Mc Ilwaine, 2014
”It was such a wonderful experience! I learned so much!. I miss Spain and the wonderful times I had with you all! … I know everyone involved will be having a great time and learning so much!”
Cady V. Rutherford, 2013