Via Ostiense is one os the best preserved necropolis in Rome with hundreds of urns containing cremated human remains.
This field school offers a practical training program in both funerary archaeology and anthropological study of Roman cremations.
While some experience working with human remains will be helpful, beginners are welcome to join the team. The first three days you will be trained for the work at the site. These lessons will cover the necropolis, Roman archaeology, our project, human anatomy and osteology, cremations, etc. You will learn to conduct a micro-excavation and an anthropological study. All the tools and supplies you will need will be provided at the site, the only tool you might want to bring is your personal laptop. By the end of the session you should be able to complete the study of a Roman cremation with confidence and accuracy. Of course, the staff will always be on site to help and assist you.
All excavation and anthropological studies will be completed on site and some lectures will be given in the evenings.
During the project, students will learn:
· Microexcavation of funerary urns
· Conservation methods for cremated bone
· Identification and weighing of cremated bone
· Measurements of cremated bones
· Morphological and taphonomic variation in cremated bone
· Recording information in a database
· Interpretation of cremated bone
7:00 a 7.30 breakfast
8:00 work at site starts
11:00 break for snack
13.30 end of field work for the day
13:30 a 15:30 lunch
15:30 a 17:30 Lab, lectures and seminars.
17:30 a 21:00 free time
On Saturdays we will go on excursions related with funerary archaeology:
On Sundays the team will have free time to explore Rome.
The necropolis of via Ostiense its also known as necropolis of Saint Paul because his relics were found here. The Cathedral of Saint Paul, the second most important cathedral in Rome after Saint Peter’s was constructed on this necropolis, only some meters from the site.
The necropolis was first excavated in the early XXth century and in only one years we will celebrate the 100 years anniversary of the first excavation. Surprisingly only the estructures were excavated and the cremation urns were left in place, leaving us the opportunity to excavate their remains. We will excavate the urns and conduct an anthropological study of the human remains. This involves identifying, weighing, measuring and documenting the bones. This process is slow and difficult, but it allows us to estimate information about the individual such as sex, age, stature, and pathology.
With a large number of undisturbed burials, this necropolis located in Via Ostiense is a privileged place for the study of the rites of death and the interpretation of the gestures and customs of the Roman civilization.
Although Spanish or Italian are not required, you will be immersed in both languages daily. If you are not planning to improve any of the two, don’t panic, everybody in the team speaks English.
The project gives the opportunity to students, professionals and archaeology lovers to take part in the anthropological study of cremations and in the study and interpretation of the Roman funerary world.
At its core, this is a multidisciplinary project aimed at analyzing each and every one of the materials deposited inside cremation pots and urns: human remains, animal and plant remains from the funeral banquet, objects such as lintels or ointment pots, coins, seeds of the vegetable offerings, the funeral bed, all in order to be able to reconstruct the gestures and behaviors of the Roman community.
dates & fees
Program Dates 2019:
August 18 - September 1
• Full Room and Board
• Archaeological program and seminars
• Two excursions and two Roman tours
• public transportation within the city of Rome
• Medical Insurance
• Application fee
• Administrative costs
Part of your fee will go towards the research project.
Fees DO NOT include airfare.
To reserve a space, you must pay a $300 application fee. The remainder of the program cost will be due on May 15.
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 April 1st: All payments, except for $50 from the application fee, are refundable.
• Between April 1st and May 15th: Application fee non-refundable. The balance is refundable.
• After May 15th: All payments are non-refundable unless your application is rejected by the program director.
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 and the exact dates are confirmed. 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.
ArchaeoSpain provides a free insurance packet that offers full medical and surgical treatment, prescription drugs, coverage in case of accident and some compensation for baggage loss or theft. 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 behaviour compromise the safety, research objectives and general performance of the group, or violate Spanish laws, regulations or customs.
The research project is directed by Dr Marina Marcelli (Sovrintendenza Capitolina of Rome, responsible of archaeological area Sepolcreto della via Ostiense) and prof. Llorenç Alapont Martín (Universidad Europea de Valencia and head of Archaeology Department of CDLV).
The Proyect is under The Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali of Rome the Archaeology Department of the Colegio de Doctores y Licenciados en Letras y Ciencias of Valencia, with the collaboration of Universidad Europea de Valencia
At the end of the Program, participants will receive an official certificate of participation stating the hours and activities of the course.
Participants may receive a letter of recommendation from our institutes upon request.
If you wish to gain academic credits from your school, you will need to contact your academic advisor at your school to confirm and start the process. Each school has different rules regarding credits, so you should have your advisor contact us.
An archaeologist will guide the participants. Entries and transportation costs are included in the total cost of the program.
The first large-scale catacombs in the vicinity of Rome were excavated from the 2nd century onward. They were carved outside the walls of the city, because Roman law forbade burial places within city limits. Since most Christians and Jews at that time belonged to the lower classes or were slaves, they usually lacked the resources to buy land for burial purposes. Instead, networks of tunnels were dug in the deep layers of tufo which occurred naturally on the outskirts of Rome. At first, these tunnels were probably not used for regular worship, but simply for burial and, extending pre-existing Roman customs, for memorial services and celebrations of the anniversaries of Christian martyrs, some of them buried here.
There are sixty known subterranean burial chambers in Rome. They were built outside the walls along main Roman roads, like the Via Appia, the Via Ostiense, the Via Labicana, the Via Tiburtina, and the Via Nomentana.
The Necrópolis of Via Triumphalis is part of the archaeological area of the Vatican Museums. It was buried as a result of successive landslides, this preserved the area until it was discovered by accident while digging the Vatican's massive underground parking garage in 1956. Archaeologists found it as it was when last used in the fourth century, when Constantine ordered the construction of the first Basilica of San Pedro (320 AD). To date excavations have revealed more than 1,000 tombs and graves dating from the 1st century BC through AD 320. We will visit its constructions and materials that are so impressive that it is called the Roman Pompeii.
Ostia Antica - Necropolis Isola Sacra
If we follow the old road from Rome to the port we will arrive to Ostia Antica. Necropolis of Via Ostiense is placed both sides of this old road and named after it. Ostia is one of the sites than can give you a better understanding of ancient Roman daily life. It was the town by the port and getting lost among its streets, temples, public baths, taverns... is an incredible experience. On the same day we will visit the necropolis of Portus in Isola Sacra, some miles closer to the sea, on the road that connected the port with Ostia Antica. It consists of some sixty tombs and was unearthed by Pietro Ercole Visconti in the years 1855-1859, by Dante Vaglieri in the years 1909-1913, and by Guido Calza in the period 1919-1923. This necropolis is far from the tourists track and is the best place to understand the idea of afterlife in Roman times.
Living in the centre of Rome is an experience itself and we will have time to immerse in all the beauty, history and culture of the eternal city. We will visit the forums and Trajan's Market from the point of view of an archaeologist and of course we will find some time to explore on our own or with the rest of the team.