Medieval Castle of Zorita: High School Archaeology

Location: Zorita de los Canes, Spain

July 20, 2015 to August 8, 2015

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school



ArchaeoSpain, La Mancha regional government

Project Director:

Dr. Dionisio Urbina and Catalina Urquijo

Project Description

The High School field crew at the Medieval Castle of Zorita will excavate and research a 9th-century fortress built by Moorish invaders that was later occupied by Christian knights and Jewish Spaniards.
We are the first archaeological team to excavate the area. Our focus for this summer will be the open space adjacent to a Romanesque church from the 12th century). There are sarcophagi lining the southern wall, and we have already uncovered several burials. Our theory is that this cemetery contains the graves of the castle's knights and clergy.  
Field school students will learn surveying, excavation techniques, mapping, photography, keeping a dig diary, and artifact recovery, conservation, and drawing. We will also hold seminars and workshops on Spanish history, architecture, and archaeology.
This program is designed for students 16 and 17 years old. Our main objective is to prepare you as future archaeologists.
Students will experience both theoretical and hands-on archaeology. In the mornings we will be on site, learning excavation methodology, working with tools and technical instruments, and extracting artifacts. You'll analyze the clues like a detective, recording everything with photos, sketches, and a fieldwork notebook. You will also learn to draw archaeological maps and take biological samples such as pollen, seeds, and plant remains.
In the afternoons we will wash and classify the pottery, bones, and other artifacts found on site. Some afternoons we will hold seminars on Spanish history, on drawing pottery shards, and on how archaeologists use aerial photography to spot ancient remains.
Other afternoons we will explore the castle that is literally our backyard, or we will go on archaeological surveys to learn how archaeologists decide where to dig and why. Weekends will be spent visiting several Roman and Medieval sites of interest in the area, including a day-trip to World Heritage Site Toledo.

Period(s) of Occupation: Medieval

The field school at the medieval Castle of Zorita is a unique experience for high school students interested in history and archaeology. Our students will work alongside professional archaeologists as we excavate this fortress built in the 9th century by the Moors, and then occupied by Christian knights and medieval Jews. You will learn excavation and fieldwork techniques on-site plus attend classroom sessions on history and archaeology, drawing, artifact cleaning and inventory, archaeological recording, keeping an archaeological journal, and analyzing aerial photography. Plus weekend excursions to nearby historical sites. Our goal is to prepare you as future archaeologists.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

The group will be staying at a small, rustic hotel just below the castle. Students will share rooms, each with en-suite bathrooms and air conditioning. The hotel has free WiFi. Meals will be provided by hotel cooks.


Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
5 Ironwood Lane
West Hartford
United States