Geophysical Exploration and Excavation:
GPR Applications and Roman Villa Excavation and Survey
Transylvania, Romania
June 6 - July 3, 2021 (session 1)
July 4 - July 31, 2021 (session 2)


August 1 - August 28, 2021 (Session 3)

     Our Geophysics (GPR) Exploration and Roman Excavation program provides a unique opportunity for participants who strive for a career in field work/research to acquire two sets of skills of paramount importance. The field school integrates 3 weeks of excavation theory, method and practice on an extraordinary site, respectively a palatial size Roman Villa Rustica, with 5 days of intensive field Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) training and research, adding an exceptionally useful and lucrative skill set for shallow subsurface exploration and mapping, directly applicable to the fields of archaeology, CRM, forensics, urban planning, etc. As a result, this program offers our participants the possibility to acquire a substantial technical and professional edge in today’s field/urban survey and exploration job market, both in Academia and in the private sector.

     Our Roman Villa and Settlement Excavation addresses the construction of identity perception, presentation and representation on one of the most dynamic borders of the Roman Empire.  Our site is situated half way between Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana and Apulum, the two most important cities of the Dacian Provinces, very close to the largest gold deposits in Europe in the Apuseni Mountains, and on the main Imperial road in Dacia. Our ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey from 2015 and 2016 has revealed a rural villa of “palatial” size, unique in the Dacian Provinces, covering ca. 1.2ha of built space. Our test excavations have unearthed a rich environment, with 2 story buildings, painted walls, potential colonnades, several buildings outside the villa complex itself and a plethora of artifacts.

     In 2014, we have started the systematic excavation of the gate complex as well as surveying the region around the villa itself, and in 2016 the intensive excavation of the villa’s main building, with spectacular results. In 2020, COVID-19 slowed us down significantly, but we still managed to answer some interesting questions as we uncovered the hypocaust location in the central building of the villa, the access road to the main gate, as well as what appears to be the cemetery of the earliest village of Rapoltu Mare. In 2021, we will continue all vectors of research and expand our exploration of the villa's internal arrangements.

     Concurrent with the excavation, the Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) Field Applications Workshop will allow our participants to explore other Roman and medieval sites in the region. Our GPR research targets are the medieval military fortress of Uroi, the Roman castrum and municipium of Micia, and (either starting in 2021 or 2022) Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, the capital civitas of the Dacian Provinces.

     These sites, situated in Southern Transylvania (Romania), provide an unparalleled access to a diverse set of features and conditions.  We address urban and proto-urban settlement construction, complex anthropogenic stratigraphic relationships, variation in soil structure and conditions, wide range of materials and their use/reuse, unmapped ancient and modern utilities, potential graves, modern and ancient civil works projects (including the remains of roads, aqueducts, and wells), changes in hydrogeological environment caused by modern human intervention (such as the construction and operation of a thermal power plant on the site of Micia), and any additional and as-yet undiscovered features.


     The comparative approach between the two GPR systems (500MHz and 250MHz) and field configurations (cart and rough terrain), combined with the intensive hands-on, data oriented, results driven focus of the Workshop, as well as the low ratio participant:instructor is guaranteed to provide field GPR training of the highest quality, both in terms of data generation and analysis, and professional deployment and research. Upon completion of this program, participants will have the skill set and knowledge required to plan, conduct, analyze, and interpret successful GPR surveys in any terrestrial setting.  This process will present a variety of anthropogenic and natural challenges, from working in diverse field conditions, to dealing with sites containing a combination of known and unknown modern and ancient features.  The whole experience is intended to be intensive and collaborative, with a focus on experiential learning and application of processing, collecting, and interpreting data to real sites.

The Geophysics (GPR) Exploration and Roman Excavation program is therefore highly recommended to anyone who intends to pursue a career in field archaeology.

For more information on each component of this program, check out:



Location: Rapoltu Mare and Micia, Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania


Dates (4 week mandatory):

  • Session 1: June 6 - July 3

  • Session 2: July 4 - July 31

  • Session 3: August 1 - August 28


Housing: guests of Romanian families, 2-3 participants per room, semi private bathrooms available in each house.


Meals: breakfast and dinner is served Mon-Fri; traditional country cuisine; we can accommodate vegetarian diets. During the week of the GPR Applications Workshop, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be served Mon-Sat


Cost: US$ 2495 per session (4 weeks mandatory). Field Trips (4 day trips - mandatory due to the COVID-19 situation): US$300


Fee includes: registration and field fees, lectures, field and laboratory gear, housing and meals as described above

... about travel and safety, room and board, sightseeing




  • The outstanding success of our 2018 and 2019 GPR projects, the Applied Field Geophysics Workshop - GPR Applications, prompted us to buy a second GPR unit with a different central frequency and a different configuration. As a result, our participants will have the unique opportunity to get fully proficient on a 250MHz GPR system, in a cart configuration, as well as 500MHz system, in a rough terrain configuration.

  • Furthermore, participants who are committed to expand their field skill set can register to our new Geophysics Exploration and Field Excavation program. It is a 4 week program, combining the GPR Applications Workshop (5 days) and  Roman Villa Excavation (3 weeks). Participants save $400 over the combined costs of the individual programs.



Keep a close watch of your state vaccine registration methodology and get an appointment as soon as you have access.


Some good and potentially useful advice to get the vaccine in time to travel:




As we are approaching the summer, it appears that there is some light at the end of the... trowel!!!


The new recommendations from the European Council to lift international travel restrictions are official ( ) and, if the trend continues, both Canada and the US will meet those standards by the end of May (maybe sooner as the vaccination campaign progresses).


Furthermore, Dr. Fauci has indicated that all Americans who want the Covid-19 vaccine will have access to it by April ( ). If that is the case, both June and July participants could get vaccinated in time for the summer sessions. I strongly recommend you find out what is the procedure in your state and place yourself on the vaccine list as soon as possible.


Although Canada is significantly behind in the vaccination game, it will pick up the pace within the next month or so. It looks like it might be available for participants for the June session. However, it is almost certain participants to the July session will have access to it.


At the present time, a negative PCR test taken 72-48h (depending on destination) is required to board any international flight, it also appears more and more that Covid-19 vaccination will become a condition for unrestricted international travel ( ). At least one airline has made vaccination mandatory to access their planes - I suspect more will follow. Although it seems that coming from a country with a very low infection rate and having a negative PCR test might be enough for the EU in general, there would be additional restrictions on arrival for specific destinations for individuals who are not vaccinated.

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