Rutgers University Archaeological Field School in Italy (Upper Sabina Tiberina Project)
Sample of mosaic floor found at Vacone Villa Site.
Sesterius of the Emperor Trajan, found at Vacone in 2012.Burial of Child, found at Vacone in 2012.
Fallen sculpted plaster, found at Vacone in 2012.UST Project Area, with several villa locations noted.

Location: Vacone, Rieti, Italy

Season Dates: July 7, 2014 - August 9, 2014
Application Deadline: March 31, 2014


Program Type
Field school

Affiliation: Rutgers University

Project Director: Gary D. Farney (Rutgers University), Dylan Bloy (CUNY-Brooklyn), Giulia Masci (University of Turin), Ian Travers (M. ICOMOS), Kimberly Brown (University of the Arts in Philadelphia), Matt Notarian (Tulane University), Tyler Franconi (Oxford University), Candace Rice (University of Edinburgh)

Project Description

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 those taught 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 and geophysical prospection equipment such as ground penetrating radar and magnetometer. Student participants will acquire this training on site in Italy under the supervision of academic and professional archaeologists, geophysicists, conservators, and anthropologists. Rutgers professors and graduate students from the Departments of History-Newark, Earth and Environmental Sciences-Newark, Classics-New Brunswick and Anthropology-New Brunswick will all teach and participate in the field school. In addition to fieldwork, there will also be lectures 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 (for details of this project, see our website: ). 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 encouraged 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 six 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 all six credits for their Anthropology major and minor. Please consult Prof. Farney ( if you have any questions about how these credits might apply to your situation.

Graduate students can earn either six or three 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 six 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 three credits option, graduate students participate only in the conservation course. This intensive conservation course will build on previous operations and interventions conducted by the Italian Archaeological Service at the site of Vacone. These interventions were “rescue” restorations to preserve the standing architectural remains; during the course of this restoration, floor mosaics were discovered some of which were conserved and removed. In 2012 and 2013, the Rutgers field school uncovered more mosaic floors, and we anticipate finding a significant number in the future in addition to these. Some of the 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. 

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman Republic and Early Empire

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Duration of school, so from July 7 to August 9 for undergrads; either July 9 to August 9 for grads or July 28 to August 9, depending on track

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: None

Room and Board Arrangements

For 2014, the field school participants will live in an agriturismo (a kind of country hotel and restaurant), called Le Colline (, located less than 2 km from the Vacone villa site. Le Colline has rooms of two to four 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 most weekends. On Friday afternoon, staff will drive students to a nearby train-station (Poggio Mirteto) for a direct train into Rome (ca. 45 minutes); likewise, they will pick up returning students on Sunday late afternoon.
During one designated weekend (likely July 19-20), students will stay at the agriturismo 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 Roman and later remains and buildings, large medieval walls, and a substantial archaeological museum. During this weekend the field school will provide breakfasts and dinners, but not lunches; instead, students will have the opportunity to eat lunch in Rieti and in another local community at a restaurant or some other kind of establishment of their own choosing.

Cost: An approximate estimate of costs for the undergraduate participants is ca. $4500-4800 for NJ residents and ca. $5500-5800 for out-of-state residents. An estimate of costs for the graduate participants in the three credit program is ca. $3000-3200 for NJ residents and ca. $3500-3700 for out-of-state residents. A final price for all costs should be set by early January, 2013.

Academic Credit
Name of institution offering credit: Rutgers University
Number of credits offered: 6

Contact Information
Gary D. Farney
175 University Ave., Dept. of History, Conklin Hall
Newark, NJ 07102-1814
Phone: 973.353.3897
Fax: 973.353.1193

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