Department of Modern Languages & Classics

Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary's University, Archaeological Field School at the Villa of Titus, Castel Sant’Angelo, Italy, May and June, 2020 (CLAS 3610 and 3611 OR CLAS 4610 and 4611)

Since 2017, The Department of Modern Languages and Classics has offered an archaeology field school in Italy at the Roman site known as the Villa di Tito (Villa of Titus). The field school is located approximately 70 km northeast of Rome in the Apennine mountains of central Italy, within the territory of the town of Castel Sant’Angelo (province of Rieti), population roughly 2000. Students will participate in an ongoing archaeological research project, funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, which involves the excavation of a very large Roman villa that was likely also an imperial estate.  The goal of our research is to identify and study the parts of the villa associated with the daily activities and lives of non-elites (farmers, laborers, slaves, etc). We are also interested in documenting environmental changes and the economic life of the community through the analysis the site’s assemblage of zooarchaeological and archaeobotanical remains.

The field school also provides unique opportunities for cultural exchange with local Italian residents and Italian colleagues on a daily basis, and the site is located near Rome, Florence, Orvieto, Siena, Rieti, and other important Italian urban centres and historical sites, which students may visit on weekends. The field school’s location in the Apennine mountains affords students the opportunity to engage in activities such as hiking.

Location of Field School

The town of Castel Sant’Angelo is roughly 70 km northeast of Rome. The site at Castel Sant’Angelo is called colloquially the ‘Villa di Tito’ (Villa of Titus) and the ‘Terme di Tito’ (Baths of Titus), based on the supposition that it was once the property of the emperor Titus (reigned 79 – 81 CE), where he may have died. The ruins of a concrete, terraced Roman period structure (roughly 60 x 20 metres) have been visible since antiquity, and recent excavations in 2011 have suggest that the structure was a villa. In antiquity, this part of Italy was known as the Sabina, the home of the Sabines, among Rome’s first Italian allies, and the site may also have origins sometime in the third century BCE. The site sits adjacent the ancient lacus Cutiliae, Lake Cutiliae (modern Lago di Paterno), which was a sacred site to the Sabines, and also considered by the Romans to be the geographical centre of Italy, so a site of great cultural and religious significance. The entire area is rich in archaeological sites from the Italian Iron Age, and Roman period, and was an important region during the Middle Ages as well, situated along the Via Salaria (Salt Road), which connected Rome to the Adriatic coast of Italy.

 

History of the Project

This is the third year of a new field project. The Villa of Titus site is a very large Roman rural villa, complete with standing, monumental architectural remains. During the first two years, we engaged in primarily excavation of the central concrete terrace structure to reveal more of the villa’s overall plan and a monumental reception space, and to understand the site’s chronology. Work on this site has included excavation, digital photogrammetry, finds recovery and processing, and the compilation of standard archaeological recording forms. Students will also be trained in archaeological sieving, environmental archaeology, data entry, photography, and drawing.

 
Italy - lake and ruin

Student Assessement

Students will be graded on their ability to learn and execute various archaeological techniques in the field and the lab, on their entries in an archaeological daybook, and on a final exam or interpretative report. Students will enroll in two 3.0 credit hour courses (CLAS 3610, Field Study in Roman Archaeology and 3611, Roman Archaeology Field Laboratory) offered by Saint Mary's University through the Department of Modern Languages and Classics.

Costs

For Canadian students, the tuition and fees for these two courses (6.0 credit hours) are between $1,470 (NS Residents) and $1726 (Domestic, Non-Residents of Nova Scotia) (total). Non-Canadian Students pay double this fee. Students are also required to pay a $450 participation fee to Saint Mary's University, which covers costs associated with the field school, including meals, accommodation, and transport to and from the site each day. This fee does NOT include airfare; students are required to arrange for their travel to and from the field school. In general, student airfare to and from Italy during the summer runs between 800 and 1100 dollars Canadian (depending on the point of departure, airline, and route). Students should also budget some amount of pocket money for the purchase of souvenirs and for entertainment.

Accommodation and Meals

Students who are participating in the Villa of Titus field project are housed in a renovated 16th century farmhouse which recently has been converted into a guest house complete with bunks, wardrobes, bathrooms, and showers. At the moment, however, there are no washing machines, so students will have to hand-wash their clothing. Nearby towns and villages are home to shops, coffee bars, restaurants, and bank machines.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are provided from Monday to Friday. We will typically eat dinner at a local restaurant, while we will eat breakfast and lunch at the aforementioned farmhouse. For snacks, there are a number of small, local grocery stores that sell all manner of snack items and food.

Work Week

Students will work in the field and lab 5 days/week, starting around 8 am and finishing in the late afternoon (between 4:30 and 5:00 pm), depending on weather conditions. Weekends are free, and students may take advantage or location to visit nearby archaeological and historical sites and museums, such as those at Rieti, Rome, Ostia, Florence, and Orvieto. A round trip ticket to Rome, including an all-day public transportation pass, costs €8. Travel throughout Tuscany, including to Florence, is quick and easy, as are trips to the Bay of Naples area.

Faculty and Staff

The field school is taught by Dr. Myles McCallum, Associate Professor, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary's University (email: myles.mccallum@smu.ca) and Dr. Martin Beckmann, Associate Professor, Department of Classics, McMaster University. Other faculty may include, Dr. Simone Nardelli, Dr. Marco di Lieto, Dr. Angela Trentacoste (Oxford University), Dr. Erica Rowan (Royal Holloway, University of London), Matthew Munro (a PhD student at the University of Calgary), and Greg Baker, the Lab Tech in the Maritime Provinces Spatial Analysis Research Center. Students will also have the opportunity to interact with Italian archaeology students who volunteer to work alongside us. 

Prerequisites

The prerequisite for the field school (CLAS 3610 and 3611) is 3.0 credit hours of archaeology through a Classics or Anthropology Department, or 3.0 credit hours in Classics, or permission of the instructor. The course is not designed specifically for those majoring in Classics or archaeology, and is open to all students at Saint Mary’s University. Those students with previous archaeological experience may take the course at the 4000-level (CLAS 4610 and 4611).

Application Process

If you are interested in applying to participate in the 2019 field school, please contact Dr. Myles McCallum, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS, Canada, via email at: myles.mccallum@smu.ca. If you have questions about the field school, you may also contact Dr. McCallum via email or by telephone at: (902) 420-5815.