Geophysical Exploration and Excavation:
GPR Applications and Roman Villa Excavation and Survey
June 12 - July 9, 2022 (session 1)
July 10 - August 6, 2022 (session 2)
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 have started again the systematic excavation of the villa, with some extraordinary result. Not only we uncover the "usual" plethora of amazing artifacts (i.e. coins, tools, terra sigillata, jewelry, a great variety of ceramics, etc.) but we have uncovered an in situ wooden floor from one of the earliest buildings on site. As usual, the discovery happened the last week of the season, so we are looking forward to excavate it next summer, in 2022, together with all the artifacts present on that floor!!!
Location: Rapoltu Mare and Micia, Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania
Dates (4 week mandatory):
Session 1: June 12 - July 9
Session 2: July 10 - August 6
Housing: local hotel, 2-3 participants per room, with private bathrooms.
Meals: during the excavation, breakfast and lunch are served Mon-Fri; traditional country cuisine; we can accommodate vegetarian diets. During the week of the GPR Applications Workshop, breakfast and dinner will be served Mon-Fri.
Cost: US$ 2595 per session (4 weeks mandatory).
Fee includes: registration and field fees, lectures, field and laboratory gear, housing and meals as described above
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 Medieval Castle of Sanpaul, the Medieval Fortified Church of Meresti, and/or the Roman castrum and municipium of Micia.
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: