Location: Cerveteri (ancient Caere), Italy
Cerveteri is a town on the West coast of Italy, 48 km North of Rome, which lies on the site of the Etruscan city of Cisra, called Caere by the Romans. Caere was one of the metropoleis of the ancient Mediterranean, a rich and powerful city which was an ally of Carthage and developed good relationships with its southern neighbors the Romans. The site is famous for its necropolis of rock-cut tombs imitating houses complete with carved furniture and decorations, recently listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Many of the most famous Etruscan artworks, such as the Sarcophagus of the Spouses, were found in the tombs of Caere. While the cemetery has early attracted scholarly attention, the exploration of the city has begun much later. Though some sanctuaries are known, the general plan of the city is still largely unknown.
The team of the Queen’s University will continue the investigation a religious compound in the centre of the city, the so-called “hypogeum of Clepsina” consisting of an underground room with frescoes, sketches and inscriptions, and a network of corridors and stairways. This has been identified as the cult place of the ancestors of the community and the seat of rituals dealing with its foundation and its destiny, also including divination. The orientation of the complex may depend on Etruscan religious and cosmological beliefs, which might have determined, or at least conditioned, the master plan of the whole city. The excavation will also investigate the urban area near the hypogeum, where a regular urbanization pattern is coming to light.
Field activities will include classes on Etruscan and Roman archaeology, field methods of archaeology, field conservation, and other topics of interest. During weekends daytrips to Rome and to Etruscan and Roman sites and museums of the region will be organized.
On Sundays, students have the opportunity to travel at their leisure. The town itself is only 48 km outside of Rome and is easily accessible by train.
Participants can either enrol into the full-credit course CLST 409 Archaeology Fieldwork Practicum or the graduate course CLAS 809 or join as volunteers.
Non-Queen’s students may ask for credit transfer. Please contact the Department of Classics for more information.
Period(s) of Occupation: Etruscan, Roman
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 3 weeks
Room and Board Arrangements
Accommodation and meals: Students who are participating in the Caere Excavation are housed in rental properties in in the town of Cerenova, about 3 km from the dig site and 1 km from the beach. Units are for 3 to 8 persons each and have a small kitchen. The largest ones also have washer. However, there are no dryers. There are drying racks available for use in the properties.
Please be advised that these units were designed for family vacations, so in each there are also double beds, some of which cannot be split. Chances are you will have to share a bed.
The town itself is also home to many amenities such as restaurants, grocery stores, gelaterias, Internet cafes and shops. The town is also within walking distance from the black sand beaches of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Breakfast: self-catering. Please note that Italians generally eat pastries for breakfast. There are rarely savoury breakfast options.
Lunch: A sandwich, fruit and a bottle of water delivered at the dig site from a local deli.
Dinner: at a buffet restaurant and pizzeria at Cerenova. A main course and a side of your choice and a bottle of water. There are a variety of food options, including vegetarian options.
Fee includes: housing, lunch and dinner from Mondays to Fridays, trips to sites and museums, museum tickets, transportation to and from the dig.
Fee does not include: round-trip international airfare; passport; food during weekends; personal travel/activity/spending money; tuition for full credit course (for students of CLST 409/CLAS 809).
A visa is not required, unless you wish to stay in Italy longer than 90 days.
S. Haynes, Etruscan Civilization. A Cultural History. London: British Museum Press and the J. Paul Getty Trust, 2000 or other good textbook on Etruscan art and archaeology