Roman Imperial Urban Excavation

Sarmizegetusa, Hunedoara County,

Transylvania, Romania

July 3 - August 6, 2016


Room and Board


Logistics and Housing


          Our project aims at excavating the area situated in the immediate vicinity of the north gate of Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana. All our archaeological objectives are within 2 kilometers from the dig house. We will hike through the village to the site and back.

         We house everyone in 2-4 occupancy rooms in a beautifully renovated rural pension at the foot of the Retezat Mountains, equipped with semi private/shared bathrooms. The pension has a soccerfield and a game area for relaxation.
          The housing and excavation conditions are very safe. There is a clinic in the village and there are several fully equipped hospitals near by in the towns of Hateg, Hunedoara and Deva. There are several stores and small restaurants in the village as well.. Generally speaking, you will have all the advantages of a country life with all the comfort of an urban environment.




          Breakfast and dinner is included in the fees during the work week (Mon-Fri) and we will have them as a team at our pension. You are responsible for your own lunches in the field. Romanian cuisine is generally meat oriented but we can accomodate a vegetarian diet requirement.

          There are a couple of small stores in Sarmizegetusa where you can purchase fresh cheese, various meat products, garden vegetables, bread, drinks, etc. At the entrance of the archaeological site, there are two small restaurants that have a rather diverse and tasty menu. Participants are responsible for their lunches daily and meals during the weekend.

Project Fees


Costs: $1585 for 5 weeks (or $450 per week for shorter periods - 2 weeks minimum stay)

Team size: maximum 18 patricipants


          The fee is for the full 5 (five) week duration of the excavation (for shorter stays, the per week price applies). It includes a $385 non refundable registration fees, room and board as described above. All houses have bathrooms and hot water showers. Usually, we expect the entire project fee to be paid in full within 21 days after being accepted to the program. No refund will be considered after March 14, 2016.

          The registration cost does not include the trip to and from Romania. If you arrive at the pre-established times, someone will wait for you at the train station in Deva or Hateg (Sub Cetate). Participants must arrange their own travel and health insurance. Participants are responsible for their own lunches and meals during the weekends.

           No entry visa is generally required for Romania for up to 12 weeks for EU, US and Canadian citizens. It is always a good idea to check with the Romanian Consulate.

Getting There: Travel and Safety


          In light of recent global events, questions of safety are on everyone’s mind. Romania is safe and Transylvania as a whole is very safe. Most crimes in Romania take the form of petty theft or corruption. Very few violent crimes have occurred in the country. Most of the problems and crimes that are exposed in the media: poverty, gypsy problems, street kids, etc., – happen south of the Carpathian Mountains, mainly around Bucharest and Craiova.

          We will pick up everyone at the Deva or Hateg (Sub Cetate) train station upon arrival on Sunday and take you to the dig house in Sarmizegetusa. There are several easy ways to get there. In the past, participants prefered to land in Budapest: it is very easy to get to Deva by train from there. However, the current Syrian refugee crisis could render Budapest problematic as a destination. Another option is to land in Targu Mures, Cluj, Arad, Timisoara, or Sibiu (there are daily flights from England, France, Germany, Italy and Hungary to most of these cities – check, among other sites, , , , , etc.). Bucharest is also an option, but as a city is the least interesting of the ones mentioned above.

         Most of the people, who participated in the Southern Transylvania Projects in the past, chose to land in Budapest. It is very easy to get from the airport to the Keletli train station.  There are several trains daily to Deva. In case you want to arrive early and explore Budapest for a day or two, there are several hostels not too far from the train station, relatively inexpensive. The return trip Budapest-Deva is around US$175. It usually lasts around 7-10 hours one way. To get to Sub Cetate (Hateg), the closest train station to our project, from Deva, participants need to take a local train. The train ride costs less than $10 and lasts 1h 30min. From Sub Cetate train station, the dig house is about 15min cab ride (and costs less than $20).

          Landing in Bucharest might save you a few dollars on airfare Thee trip from the airport to the train station can set you back around US$50 and is usually around and hour (or more) long. There are at least two direct trains to Deva daily and the train ride lasts more than 9 hours. The return train fare was about US$80, but if you choose this way to travel, I strongly suggest to pay an extra $30-40 for first class seats: the conditions are not much better than second class, but it is somewhat cleaner and you get different kind of travelers. All the other Transylvanian airports are a bit more expensive in terms of airfare, but more practical to get to Deva, especially for Timisoara, Arad, Cluj-Napoca and Sibiu. Targu Mures is a bit out of the way in this context.
          All participants have make their own travel arrangement to the closest train station to the project home base. Once you arrive at the pre-established times at the designated spot, someone will pick you up and take you to the dig house.

          A more specific, detailed "travel kit", with train schedules, pick up locations, a guide to food and drinks, an overall list of what to bring, etc will be sent to all team members in March. Meanwhile, you can explore the participants' blogs from various ArchaeoTek past projects and visit our Facebook Community page where they have shared thousands of pics.




          Students will be staying in the Zalmoxe Pension, where they will take their comfort in cabanas set in the Transylvanian rural mountain countryside.  The modern village of Sarmizegetusa is located right next to our work site, the ancient Roman gubernatorial and procuratorial seat for the Imperial province of Roman Dacia, Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana.  Beyond our work on site and guided site and museum tours given by our expert scientific collaborators, the preserved ruins of the forum, area sacra temples, amphitheater, necropolis and insulae provide plenty of opportunity for intellectual exploration.  Each season a Daco-Roman heritage festival is held on site, bringing together archaeologists, students, reenactors, artisans, public and media for a celebration of the ongoing work at this important site, offering new perspectives on how to engage with the past.

          The surrounding region, once the heartland of the Dacian Kingdoms and the main transportation avenue and population center of the successive Roman Province, is home to sites of cultural importance from all time periods, and we, at Archaeotek, strongly encourage students and volunteer to take advantage of their surroundings.  A 40 km drive into the mountains will take travelers to the Roman city’s political predecessor, Sarmizegetusa Regia, the massive late Iron Age sanctuary and fortress complex, and capital of Decebal’s Dacia which came into conflict with the Roman Empire at the start of the second century.  Other Dacian fortresses cap the surrounding hills; Costesti, Blidaru and Piatra Rosie are some of the best preserved and most accessible examples of Dacian military architecture in Romania.

          A few kilometers from our site, at the entrance to a nearby mountain pass, is Colt Castle, a medieval fortress dominating the tributary valley, and the hike to the top affords a fantastic panorama of the region.  Densus Church, a 13th c. Orthodox church, was one of the last ecclesiastical structures to be made entirely of stone, and is just down the road from Sarmizegetusa.  Its ancient paintings, reused Roman building materials, and esoteric design have made it a well-known sightseeing destination.  The town of Hunedoara, home to the famous Corvin Castle, is nearby as well.  This enormous castle, the home of the Corvin dynasty, and its original occupants have long captured the popular imagination.

          The regional transportation hub of Simeria affords students easy access to further destinations. Alba Julia, the original capital of the unified modern Romania and one of the oldest continually occupied sites in Romania, is only a short train ride away. The city center still boasts its massive late medieval defensive walls, built in the shape of concentric seven pointed stars, now both an open air museum and the center of local nightlife. Within the walls students will find one of the largest historical museums in Transylvania, some of the largest and oldest Orthodox and Catholic cathedrals, and a vibrant culinary and social scene. For more involved excursions, Simeria offers access to the famous medieval Transylvanian cities of Brasov and Sighisoara (home of the Dracula legend), Cluj and Sibiu.

          Note that many cultural sites of interest in the area are only accessible by foot or off-road vehicle. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with the staff concerning all travel plans, and weekend group trips can be organized for students more affordably, efficiently and enjoyably.




  • 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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