This is a multidisciplinary project that incorporates diverse archaeological sciences to achieve its goals such as funerary archaeology and bio-archaeology, and diferent techniques such as topography, photogrammetry, and virtual reality,
Interpreting and investigating the funerary remains:
1. The human skeletal remains and the treatment of the corpse.
2. The typology, location, and architecture of the funeral spaces and monuments.
3. The offerings, the symbolic objects, and the funerary rites performed by the living for the dead.
4. The memory of the deceased, epigraphy, painting, sculpture and the exterior image of the tomb.
5. Symbolism, religion, superstition, and rituals.
6. The reconstruction of what really happened after the death of the deceased until the moment they were definitively deposited in their grave and how they died and lived.
Participants will be provided with a complete dossier full of information about methodologies, practical approaches, theory for the archaeology of death, physical anthropology, and funerary archaeology.
Throughout the program, archaeologists will provide seminars that focus on more specific aspects of the archaeology process, such as ceramic analysis, restoration and conservation, Roman religion, and illustrating on an archaeological site.
English, Spanish, and Italian are the official languages of the program.
Seminars and workshops
-Field Archaeology: The documentation and field record.
-Documentation of various funerary contexts: The individual graves, plurals and reductions, secondary graves, and the graves of children.
-The Biological Context: Identification of the human skeleton, recognition of individual bones and teeth, characteristics, size, and shape of parts of human bones. Estimation of age, sex, height, cause of death, pathologies, etc.
-Archaeology of death and burial
-Introduction to Roman cremation: the process, the results, the uses of such studies in archaeology and forensic science, etc.
-Roman funerary archaeology
-Excavation and documentation cremation burials
-Osteological analysis and documentation of remains
-Identification of human bone fragments
-Identification of non-human bones
Pompeii. The Site
The first excavation in the area of Pompeii dates back to the age of the emperor Alessandro Severo, only a couple of centuries after the destruction, but the works failed because of the thick blanket of lapillus. It was not until the XVI century that the excavations started to discover traces of buildings, inscriptions and coins. The first of two earthquakes that slowed down the works took place in 1631 and cancelled the excavations.
In 1748 Carlo of Borbone started the digs again with the aim to enrich the museum of Portici. These works were directed by the engineer Alcubierre but they still weren’t realized in a systematic and scientific way. Nevertheless, in those years the excavations reached important results: the Villa of the Papyri was found in Herculaneum, in 1755 it was the turn of Villa of Giulia Felice and in 1763 Porta Ercolano and an epigraph.
With Joseph Bonapart and G. Murat the road between Villa Diomede and other buildings were discovered, like the House of Sallustio, the House of the Faun, the Forum r the Basilica.
Systematic excavations started only after Italy was unified in one kingdom. The works were entrusted to Giuseppe Fiorilli and for the first time the old town was schematically excavated with a scientific methodology. The site was divided into agglomerates of houses and quarters, while the recovery and preservation techniques of the buildings and of the artistic heritage reach extraordinary levels of efficacy thanks to Antonio Sogliano and Vittorio Spinazzola. Fiorilli was also who came up with the idea of filling up the “gaps” in the ashes with mortar and the first images of the last inhabitants of Pompeii came back to life.
Large-scale open-air excavations at Pompeii came to an end in the 1960s because the authorities recognized that further excavation would only make the conservation problem worse. During the last century the main aims were to preserve the original architectonic structure of the buildings and the wall paintings inside them. Conservation took place in the best decorated houses, but elsewhere on site was conducted on an emergency basis. Consequently the conservation problem worsens each year. The earthquake in 1980 slowed down these works but the new government has permitted the starting of “Pompeii Project” a programe aimed at the vaporization of the whole archaeological area. With a conservation grant of €105 million, the hope is that Pompeii’s decay will be slowed.
In the meantime, scholars continue their work at Pompeii and at other nearby sites. In the 1990s teams were given an excavated insula (housing block) to study its evolution through stratigraphic excavation beneath the AD 79 floor levels, its architectural development through examination of its walls and paintings, and its contents through study of the original excavation reports and inventories. As a result our understanding of Pompeii’s development as a Roman city has increased. It is no longer seen as a ‘city frozen in time’, but as a settlement with a long and interesting history before its destruction by Vesuvius in AD 79.
The necropolis was found at the foot of the town walls outside the gate of Porta di Nola, where excavation work has uncovered several particularly interesting burial monuments. There are three tombs, two of which are semicircular exedrae made of tuff stone from nearby Nuceria with two paws of winged lions poised on the far ends. As can be read on the inscription, one tomb belonged to the wife of a duumvir, Aesquillia Polla, who died at the age of 22.
The other tomb is surrounded by a wall, inside which there was the cinerary urn made of glass and the hole for the libations to the deceased. Marcus Obellius Firmus, who had been elected several times to the position of town administrator, was buried here while his house was situated not far from the Porta di Nola gate.
In the same part of the town archaeologists found an area which presumably was where the deceased were cremated, in addition to four graves of Pretorian soldiers stationed in Pompeii.
From the First Letter of Pliny the Younger to Cornelius Tacitus:
On 24 August, in the early afternoon, my mother drew (my uncle’s) attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. (…) It was not clear at that distance from which mountain the cloud was rising (it was afterward known to be Vesuvius); its general appearance can best be expressed as being like an umbrella pine, for it rose to a great height on a sort of trunk and then split off into branches (…). In places, it looked white, elsewhere blotched and dirty, according to the amount of soil and ashes it carried with it. (…) Ashes were already falling, hotter and thicker (…), followed by bits of pumice and blackened stones, charred and cracked by the flames. (…) Meanwhile, on Mount Vesuvius broad sheets of fire and leaping flames blazed at several points, their bright glare emphasized by the darkness of night. (…) the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. (…) Elsewhere there was daylight by this time, but they were still in darkness, blacker and denser than any ordinary night, which they relieved by lighting torches and various kinds of lamps. My uncle decided to go down to the shore and investigate on the spot the possibility of any escape by sea, but he found the waves still wild and dangerous. A sheet was spread on the ground for him to lie down, and he repeatedly asked for cold water to drink. Then the flames and smell of sulfur which gave warning of the approaching fire drove the others to take flight and roused him to stand up. He stood leaning on two slaves and then suddenly collapsed, I imagine because the dense, fumes choked his breathing by blocking his windpipe which was constitutionally weak and narrow and often inflamed. When daylight returned on the 26th – two days after the last day he had been seen – his body was found intact and uninjured, still fully clothed and looking more like sleep than death.”
The goals for 2020
The 2020 excavation season will focus on two specific areas. The first area is located in front of the walls of the façade of the funeral enclosures (Area J). This area was first brought to light during the preventive excavation campaign of the Porta Sarno Necropolis in 1998. The presence of Samnite levels and specifically one Samnite tomb with goods is mentioned. The project’s objective in this area is to complete the excavation and study the layers and structures partially excavated in order to confirm the Samnite levels of use on the site and to conduct a further investigation that seeks to verify the presence of other Samnite tombs belonging to an anterior burial necropolis.
The second and third areas are located north (Area B) and south (Area D) of the enclosure with funerary podium monument. The last year we completed the excavation and study of the partially excavated layers and structures, confirming the presence of cremations and locating and excavating them inside the funerary enclosure. By excavating them in this way, we will document the organization of the funerary enclosure and verify the stratigraphic sequence in order to prove the existence of multiple levels of use and occupation in the necropolis.
Ball LF, and Dobbins JJ. (2013) Pompeii Forum Project: Current Thinking on the Pompeii Forum. American Journal of Archaeology 117(3)
Benefiel RR. (2010) Dialogues of Ancient Graffiti in the House of Maius Castricius in Pompeii. American Journal of Archaeology 114(1)
De Caro, S. (1979) Scavi nell'area fuori Porta Nola a Pompei. Cronache Pompeiane 5: 61–101
Cova E. (2015) Stasis and Change in Roman Domestic Space: The Alae of Pompeii's Regio VI. American Journal of Archaeology 119(1):69-102.
Duday, H. (2009) The Archaeology of the Dead. Lectures in Archaeothanatology. Oxford and Oakvill.
Duday H Van Andringa,W (2017) Archaeology of Memory: About the Forms and the Time of Memory in a Necropolis of Pompieii. Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome. Supplementary Volumes Vol. 13.
Foss, P. Dobbins, J.J. (eds) (2008) The World of Pompeii. London.
Grifa C, De Bonis A, Langella A, Mercurio M, Soricelli G, and Morra V. (2013) A Late Roman ceramic production from Pompeii. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(2)
Kay, S. (2019) The Porta Nola Necropolis. Archaeology Magazine July/August
Kay, S., Alapont, L. and Albiach, R. (2017) Pompeii: Porta Nola Necropolis Project (Comune di Pompei, Provincia di Napoli, Regione Campania). Papers of the British School at Rome 85
Kay, S., Alapont, L., Albiach, R., Ceccarelli, L. and Panzieri, C. (2016) Pompeii: Porta Nola Necropolis Project (Comune di Pompei, Provincia di Napoli, Regione Campania). Papers of the British School at Rome 84
All participants will be staying at the residence of Complesso Parrocchiale di Marra (84, Via Marra - 80041 Boscoreale (NA) (coord.40º46’55.70”N - 14º32’49.48”E) 15 minutes from Pompeii by car. The project, as well as providing this accommodation, will also provide beds and pillows. Participants are asked to bring their own bedding (eg sleeping bag, sheets, pillow cases) and towels. Rooms are single sex and shared between 3 to 6 people. The accommodation has an internet connection.
It’s a fenced-in residence with very nice facilities, a full kitchen, washing machine, common room, etc. You’ll need to bring your own sheet set, pillowcase, and towel. We also recommend that you bring a blanket or sleeping bag in case it gets chilly at night.
The residence is located 150 meters from the restaurant where we eat dinner as well as cafes, bars, ice cream shops, and terraces. It's also very close to the shop where our lunch and food for Pompeii is prepared. It's close to the metro stop (circumvesuviana de cangiani) which during free time will allow you to easily and independently get around Pompeii, Sorrento, and Naples.
The project will provide breakfast, break, lunch and dinner all week, with the exception of the break and lunch on the trip day (normally Saturday). Please let us know in the document Personal details of any dietary requirements, so that we may inform the restaurant in advance. The working day will be from 8:00- 17:00, with a half-hour break in the morning and an hour and half lunch break.
Meals include a starter, main course, dessert, wine and coffee (beer is not included). Dinner will be at 9:00pm each evening.
10,30-11am Snack break
dates & fees
Program Dates 2020:
June 28 - July 18 New dates: September 13-October 3
Fees: US$ 2985
Program Fees Include:
Full room and board
Excursions and other activities
Transportation to and from airport on first and last days of the program
Daily transport to the site
Certificate of 150h
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. (Included in the price of the program).
The remainder of the program cost will be due by May 30th.
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 February 1st: All payments, except for $50 from the application fee, are refundable.
-Between February 1st and May 30th: Application fee non-refundable. The remaining balance is refundable.
-After May 30th: 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 Italy 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. 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.
We all know Pompeii for its last moment, its destruction in 79 CE when Mount Vesuvius, erupted, covering it in at least 19 feet of ash and other volcanic debris.The city's quick burial preserved a moment of a town full of live for the future.
Since the XVI centuty, when it was discovered, it has been one of the main sources to learn about daily life in Roman times.
Archaeologists will introduce you to the secrets of Pompeii and everyday after field work you will be able to get lost within the streets of the old city.
Herculaneum The fate of Herculaneum was a little different to the fate of Pompeii. Destroyed same day, it was attacked by the extremely hot surge that rolled down the slope straight through the town carrying debris, hot mud, ashes and toxic gases. The extremely well preserved houses will take you back to Roman times.
Naples is only a few train stops from our accommodation and there are many options to discover and enjoy this beautiful city during your free time: Find a little ristorante and eat a Neopolitan Pizza, the first to be baked in Italy. Enjoy the view from Castel Sant’Elmo. Wander the Spanish Quarter. Tour Underground Napoli, underneath the Spanish Quarter there is a subterranean world awaiting to be explored. Spend a night at the Opera in San Carlo Theatre, the oldest continuously running opera house in Europe. Go see the the sunset at Castel dell'Ovo, dating from the 12th century.
The National Archaeological Museum of Naples
You can't go to Pompeii without visiting its collections. Mosaics, daily life artifacts, statues, frescoes etc from Pompey, Stabiae and Herculaneum are among its treasures. The Farnese Collection includes a collection of engraved gems and marble classical sculpture. The Egyptian collection include more than 2,500 objects. Finally, the The Secret Cabinet is the name the Bourbon Monarchy gave the private rooms in which they held their fairly extensive collection of erotic or sexual items, mostly deriving from excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum.