Summer School in Classical Archaeology

Previous Editions

Did we actually find out something in last year’s edition? Sure we did, and here you can learn about that and see what you can expect from the 2020 Summer School. Download the 2019 edition report of the Digging Vada Summer School: Report_Vada_2019_eng.

Drone photo of the site at the end of the 2019 campaign.


Plan of the Roman Imperial Age structures currently under excavation during the two main building phases identified so far.









A GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey run in 2012 in the Southern sector of the harbour settlement allowed us to identify undiscovered structures, whose excavation started in 2013. Starting from 2016, drone’s survey have been run at the end of every campaign, in order to get a detailed plan of the newly found buildings.

At the end of the Ist cent. AD a big rectangular building was erected in the area currently under excavation, previously empty of any structure. The building, whose function is still unknown, is made of six rectangular rooms. A courtyard was perhaps located next to the Northernmost perimeter wall of the building. Three rooms have floor made of more layers of clay mixed with pottery fragments. The attempt to made well drained floors seems to testify the use of these rooms for the storage of foods which needed protection against humidity, like corn.

Since 2016 we understood this building underwent more interventions, meant to change its previous plan and – likely – its functions.


The 2019 edition

In 2019 our excavations provided new and very interesting data about the changes the rectangular building underwent between the IInd and the VIIth cent. AD.

In the North-Western sector of the excavation 2019 our most important goal has been understanding that the bakery – already discovered in 2016 – was built between the end of the IInd and the starting of the III cent. AD, along with the earlier rooms added to the South-Eastern corner of the rectangular building.

Digging in the North-Eastern sector of the site.

In the Southern sector of the site researches focused on Room 9, whose excavation – started in 2017 – already revealed the presence of a VIIth cent. AD metal workshop. After the removal of the workshops layers and structures, we have been able to dig a sunken floor, made of clay, mortar and many small fragments of pottery. The latter allowed us do date Room 9 and other structures located in the South-Eastern corner of the rectangular building – such as the small Room 8 – to the half  of the IIIrd cent. AD. A lead weight, shaped as a fig, is likely related to the use of the whole area for food trade, already known thank to the bakery dug out in the Northern sector of the area.

Lead weight found in Room 9.

Excavation of the IIIrd cent. AD floors inside Room 9.











The necropolis


Students digging a female tomb during the 2016 season

Since the very start of the our excavation in 2013 , tombs were dug out. So we understood that during the Vth-VIth cent. AD – the building being already abandoned – the area and the structures were used as a cemetery – a common practice in Late Antiquity.

Despite containing no grave-goods, the burials allow us to get a privileged insight into the local community life. Tunisian amphoras for olive-oil or fish sauces were often used as coffins for burying children , while simple graves dug in the soil were used for adults.

The tombs are related to burials of men and woman whose age’s range is 35-45 years old. The three amphora tomb hosted children less than 3-4 years old.


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The 2017 excavation of a male tomb and a child’s amphora tomb.

Photo of the phemale burial found in 2019.



A new burial

The excavations carried on in the Northernmost sector of the site put on light the burial of a woman, 35-45 years old. The skeleton’s position is very interesting: the woman was buried face down, with her left arm back. These features are very uncommon in Roman Imperial Age tombs. Stratigraphic data tell us the woman died between during the IInd cent. AD and her tomb was dug next the Eastern wall of the most ancient building identified in this sector of the Vada Volaterrana settlement.

Since 2015 the bones remains found in the site are studied in the Vada Volaterrana Anthropology Lab, held by professional anthropologists during the Summer School. Looking for the results? So, go for the full 2019 report (and those of the previous campaigns) here – the relevant download link is down on this page – and apply for the 2020 campaign! 



Download full report

The full report of the 2019 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: Report_Vada_2019_eng

The full report of the 2018 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: Report_Vada_2018_eng

The full report of the 2016 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: report_vada_volaterrana_harbour_project_2016

The full report of the 2015 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: Summer_School_Report_2015

The full report of the 2014 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: Summer School 2014 Report

The full report of the 2013 edition of the Digging Vada Summer School can be downloaded in PDF format from here: Summer_School_2013_Report


Going on investigating: the 2020 campaign…

During the 2020 Vada Volaterrana Harbour Project campaign, we’ll go on our excavation.

On-site we’ll focus on the following activities:

  • Excavation of the big “marble apsed hall”, located in the South-Eastern sector of the site, in order to put on light its setup and understand its function,
  • Going on the excavation of the Eastern courtyard, in order to understand its functions and its relationships with the sorrounding buildings.