Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana
Capital of the Dacian Provinces
First Civitas North of the Danube
Roman Imperial Urban Excavation

          In the plains at the foot of the majestic Retezat Mountains in Southern Transylvania, rose the first Roman metropolis north on the Danube:  Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegetusa. Located less than 50km from the former capital of the mighty Dacians who were finally defeated in 106 by Trajan’s legions, built on a strategic site where a battle between the Roman legions and the Dacian troops took place, Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana was the largest city of Roman Dacia and the capital of the Dacian Provinces. With an area of over 30 hectars, it was a very imposing cosmopolitan center, featuring four Palmyrene temples (among many others), a large forum with associated buildings, an amphitheater, gladiator schools, imposing fortifications and several necropoles.

          This extraordinary city produced a plethora of beautiful monuments, quarried for 15 centuries both for artistic value and high quality limestone and marble. Medieval churches, such as the early medieval church of Densus, and castles display fragments from Roman Sarmizegetusa bas-reliefs and statues. The forum itself has been quarried for lime for at least one century, when the local stopped building with brick and started using cement.

          The systematic excavation of the site has started in 1924 under the direction of Prof. C. Daicoviciu and continued until 1936. In 1973, the excavations have resumed under the expert leadership of Profs. H. Daicoviciu, D. Alicu and I. Piso. At the present time, less than 15% of the site has been exposed, revealing a cosmopolitan and rich metropolis. After finishing excavating in 2014 the temples of the Aria Sacra and associated structures as well as the area surrounding the North Gate of the city, we have started excavating the home of the imperial governor of the Dacian Provinces, the richest man in one of the richest provinces. The Domus Procutratoris has revealed a very complex hypocaust system, highly decorated walls and a rich material culture. In 2016, we plan to continue the exploration of this extraordinary residential complex.




Location: Sarmizegetusa, Hunedoara County, Transylvania, Romania


Dates: July 3 - August 6, 2016


Housing: beautifully renovated rural pension, 2-4 participants per room,  semi private/shared bathrooms.


Meals: breakfast and dinner is served Mon-Fri; traditional country cuisine; we can accomodate vegetarian diets


Cost: US$1585 ($450 per week for short stays - 2 weeks minimum)


Fee includes: registration and field fees, lectures, field 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 $200 over the combined costs of the individual programs.



The latest update from our Romanian scientific partners indicates that field and museum work will resume, in Romania, by June 1. However, due to the severe mismanagement of the health crisis in the US, the travel restrictions a lot of other countries (including Romania) have set in place in regards to US citizens and/or people traveling from the US will not be lifted at the end of the Romanian state of emergency, on May 15. This aspect of the problem should be resolved by early to mid-June.

As a result, considering that most of the students and staff are coming from the US, the first session (June 7 - July 4, 2020) of our programs is not sustainable any longer, therefore, we are forced to cancel it. The second session (July 5 - August 1, 2020) is still active and we are working on the premise that we will be in the field and lab on July 5 to run the second session as planned. In this context, we will run the session with a much smaller crew, so we can enforce additional prophylactic measures (including housing, meals, work) effectively.

Please keep in mind that the Budapest arrival (and pick up for the osteology and bioarchaeology participants) is no longer an option, due to the unstable political situation in Hungary. The osteology and bioarchaeology pick up has been moved to Cluj Napoca. The GPR/Roman Villa Excavation pick up remains in Simeria, with a potential pick up option in Sibiu.

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