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  • Excavation site at Vacone

Rutgers University Archaeological Field School in Italy

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The Rutgers University Archaeological Field School in Italy, in operation since 2012, is a Rutgers Study Abroad summer program that endeavors to teach undergraduate and graduate students archaeological field skills and methods. Among these are: excavation techniques; site recording and management skills; the handling, processing and preserving of site materials, such as mosaics, painted wall plaster, pottery, human remains and other small finds; and field surveying skills through the operation of a total station. Student participants will acquire this training by doing these things on site in Italy under the supervision of academic and professional field specialists. In addition to fieldwork, there will also be seminars and readings about archaeological methods, and historical and anthropological topics related to the project currently being pursued by the field school, the Upper Sabina Tiberina Project (detailed below). For this project the field school operates in the Tiber River Valley in the northwestern part of the province of Lazio, just about 40 miles upriver from Rome. Participants live and work near the small village of Vacone, excavating a Roman villa site with evidence of Republican, Imperial and post-antique occupation and activity.

Enrollment in the Rutgers Field School is not limited to Rutgers University students, and applicants from other institutions of higher learning are welcome to apply. Although applicants with backgrounds in history, Italian studies, archaeology, anthropology and/or classics are desired, no previous experience or prerequisites are necessary, nor is any particular major or background. Moreover, no knowledge of Italian language is required.

Undergraduate students will receive 6 course-credits from Rutgers Study Abroad that may be counted toward a variety of departments and majors, including Classical Studies, History, Anthropology, and Art History. For instance, the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers-New Brunswick will accept these as equivalent to 01:070:334 ‘Archaeological fieldwork’ and 01:070:335 ‘Analysis of Archaeological data'. Please consult Prof. Farney (gfarney@rutgers.edu) if you have any questions about how these credits might apply to your situation.

Graduate students can earn either 6 or 3 course credits, depending on the track they wish to take. They should consult their departments to see how they will treat the credits for any degree they are pursuing. For 6 credits, they can participate in the undergraduate regimen in the first half of the course (as noted above), and in the second half in a graduate student only course on site and materials conservation. For the 3 credits option, graduate students just participate in this conservation course. This intensive course of conservation will build on previous operations and interventions at the site of Vacone conducted by the Italian Archaeological Service. Every year, the Rutgers field school uncovers more mosaic floors. Some mosaics found last year and the ones we will find in the coming year will need to be restored, and in situ stretches and fragments of painted and sculpted wall plaster will also need conservation.

Undergraduate or Graduate Internships are available for students who already have field experience and previously acquired field skills (excavation, anthropological, geophysical, etc.). Students who wish to pursue an internship should contact Prof. Farney directly (gfarney@rutgers.edu).

Living Arrangements for the Field School

For 2016, the participants will live in an agriturismo (a kind of country hotel and restaurant), called Le Colline (http://www.agriturismolecolline.com), located very close to the Vacone villa site (< 2 km). Le Colline has rooms of two to six people, each with a separate bathroom. The agriturismo has internet access and will provide us with a means to do laundry. All meals will be provided at the agriturismo for staff and students Sunday dinner through Friday lunch as part of the program costs. Students will have to pay for their own meals at other times (Friday dinner through Sunday lunch), from the agriturismo or elsewhere. Students will also be able to visit the town of Vacone and other local towns regularly.

Students are encouraged to travel to Rome or other nearby locales on the weekends. On Friday afternoon, staff arrange for students to be taken to a nearby train-station (Poggio Mirteto) for a direct train into Rome (ca. 45 minutes); likewise, students are picked up on Sunday late afternoon from Poggio Mirteto back to the agriturismo.

During one designated weekend, students will stay at the hotel in Vacone and we will tour around the local area to see sites and museums of relevance to the field school. Among these will be a trip to Rieti, a local city with ancient and medieval remains and a substantial archaeological museum. During this weekend the field school will provide all meals except for lunch at Rieti where students will have the opportunity to eat lunch at a restaurant or some other kind of establishment of their own choosing.