Contribution starting at $2,195
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
7+ days (avg. $314 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Shovel Icon
Archaeology

Unearthing Ancient History in Tuscany

Location
Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park, Piombino, Tuscany, Italy Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
Hotel
Food
Staff-prepared meals
megale expedition
volunteer archaeology on the megale expedition
volunteers on site on the megale expedition in tuscany
analyzing artifacts in tuscany
volunteers analyze ancient artifacts in tuscany
volunteer archaeology in tuscany italy
stunning beach and ocean scene in tuscany
megale expedition
volunteer archaeology on the megale expedition
volunteers on site on the megale expedition in tuscany
analyzing artifacts in tuscany
volunteers analyze ancient artifacts in tuscany
volunteer archaeology in tuscany italy
stunning beach and ocean scene in tuscany

The goal of this expedition is simple: to help experts reconstruct the complex past of Populonia as fully as possible.


For hundreds of years, Populonia dominated the ironworks industry in the Mediterranean. The transfer of the city from Etruscan to Roman rule around 250 B.C. did not halt its metalworking activities; iron exports supported the Roman expansion in Africa, so the ruling class had important economic interests in the area’s industrial production and commerce.

To reconstruct the economic and social history of the city of Populonia, researchers must answer many complicated questions: When and where did iron smelting take place? How was the society of the city shaped by metalworking and trade? Who were the ancient people that lived and worked in the harbor, the mines, and the iron smelting industry?

By joining this expedition, you’ll help fill in gaps in knowledge about the Populonia area. Your team will focus on one of two fascinating sites:

Teams 1,2,3, and 4 (teen team) will work between the remaining walls of a Roman villa on Poggio del Molino (Windmill Hill), overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The villa was built at the start of the 1st century A.D., when the main city of Populonia was mysteriously abandoned. People continued to live at the villa, though, until the end of the 5th century, so it is one of the few existing sources of information from this time period.

Teams 5-7 will excavate at the Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park. The area has not yet been investigated by rigorous archaeological scientific methods, but it is a critical place to discover more about the lives of the people who lived in Populonia between the 7th and 1st century BCE. Volunteers on these teams will also have the opportunity to visit the Villa Poggio del Molino as well.

Live the life of a professional archaeologist as you unearth artifacts, then clean and study them. You might also try rebuilding original objects from the fragments you’ve discovered. You’ll have an unparalleled chance to get close to Italy’s ancient past.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • DAY 1  Arrival, travel to accommodations, welcome presentation
  • DAYS 2-6   Excavations, catalog artifacts, map excavation sites
  • DAY 7  Departure

You also have the option of joining the expedition for two weeks.

HOW WILL YOU HELP

Most days will begin with a morning briefing, and then you’ll head out to the excavation site, where you will:
excavating artifacts in tuscany
Excavate artifacts

You'll spend most of your time removing the earth around objects with trowels, brushes, and other tools.

map excavation sites
Map excavation sites

To help record the layout the excavations and where objects have been uncovered, you will help draw features of the site.

volunteers record analyze and preserve artifacts in tuscany
Record, analyze, and preserve artifacts

Help clean and catalog the finds you uncover, and analyze the source and age of stones used as building materials. When you find bits of pottery, you'll try to reconstruct the original vessel. You'll also draw and do some basic conservation of building decorations, such as mosaics.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

6 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Paul Stout | November 13, 2018
Everything about this project was fantastic - our team was able to be engaged in every aspect of an archeological dig, including unearthing buried strata, documenting finds, cleaning and attempting to assemble artifacts, and assisting in preserving ancient mosaics and frescoes. And what a site - intriguing evolution through early to mid-Roman occupation, transitioning from a fort policing and protecting the rich iron ore processing of the region to a farm adapted to produce the much-prized garum for the fuddy-duddies of Rome, to a nobleman's villa complete with baths, massage rooms, and an extensive garden. And every footstep echoed the shadows of that procession through time. The field staff were also incredible - knowledgable, patient, positively energetic, and great cooks of our evening meals! They helped make the work fun and helped create a strong bond among the volunteers - and of course some good local wines helped. I can't wait to return next year!
Christina Myrianthous | October 31, 2018
What a great experience it was to be part of the wonderful team of archeologists at Populonia, Tuscany. I have only the highest praise for these dedicated people that made us all feel so welcome. With absolutely no previous experience in the field, except a 'burning' desire to join a dig, this was a superb way to see if archeology is something for me. We were digging at a Roman villa where we assisted in the restoration of mosaics and frescoes and in cleaning of pottery. The site was closing up for the winter and so the cleaning of finds was needed for the catalogisation and storage. We even got to try to put pottery pieces back together. I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this experience, being outdoors the whole day with physical work, finding (or not finding) pottery pieces and then to clean and piece them together. It was such a fantastic introduction to the whole archeology process which I found very interesting. I can highly recommend everyone who has ever thought about volunteering at a site to go on this trip, you will not regret it! I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karolina, Giulia, Alessandro, Marco and the rest of the team for taking so good care of us and for being so enthusiastic and willing to share your knowledge with an wannabe archeologist!
Scott Ames | September 21, 2017
I participated in the Unearthing Ancient History in Tuscany expedition in September 2017. With no prior archaeological background, I found it to be a wonderful experience, with just one exception and that was my own physical limitations, not the result of the project or any of its great staff. My team was small, just three volunteers the first week and two the second. We were met at the Pisa airport and driven about an hour south to the small coastal community of Populonia, not really a town where we were, just a Castle on a hilltop overlooking Baratti Bay with its fine beaches and a few restaurants. We stayed in the castle itself in very comfortable apartments. Ariana and Martina were the two archaeologists we worked with everyday and they came over every evening to prepare dinner and we all ate together. We fixed our own breakfasts and packed lunches each day to take to the work sites, there was always plenty of food available for us in the kitchen so that was never a problem, plus we did go out for dinner a few times. We worked on two sites, excavating an ancient Etruscan Necropolis, where we helped unearth the remains of several individuals and we also worked at the site of Roman Villa, helping in the preservation of the floor mosaics. Both of these projects were great and I learned a great deal about Roman and Etruscan history and cultures. The physical limitations I spoke of earlier was that much of the work we did was down on hands and knees, both working on the burial site and mosaics. I had known in advance that would be the case but it was much harder on my knees than I expected. None the less, the staff we worked with were very helpful and understanding without disrupting their work and we were all able to accomplish our tasks. I would highly recommend this project to anyone interested in Ancient Etruscan or Roman history. The entire Populonia area is rich in history and archaeology sites going back at least to the 9th century B.C.E. I can not say enough good things about Carolina, Ariana or Martina or any of the other Archaeologists and other specialists we worked with. They were all highly professional, skilled in their craft, and absolutely dedicated to exposing and preserving the rich heritage of Italy and that region in particular. It was indeed an honor and a privilege to participate in the project and contribute even a little to the work being done.

Have a question?

If your question is not answered by one of our FAQs, please reach out to us and we will answer your question as soon as we can.

1 + 3 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.

Supported stories

GET EARTHWATCH NEWSLETTER

Bi-weekly announcements, new expeditions, and updates on our impact around the globe.