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

Unearthing Ancient History in Tuscany

Baratti and Populonia Archaeological Park, Piombino, Tuscany, Italy Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Single Rooms possible
Couples Rooms possible
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.



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.



6 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Lynda Vibrock | August 13, 2017
Just after retiring, I found this opportunity to get out of my self-described, "armchair archaeologist" identity and go on a real dig. This dig site spanned many historical periods and I could not have chosen a more fascinating site. Earthwatch made the trip easy and rewarding. I highly recommend the professional archaeological team Carolina Megale, Stefano Genovesi and others. Also the site's location in Tuscany, right on the Mediterranean identified as the Etruscan's 'Tyrrhenian Sea' was spectacular. The accommodations and the food were memorable and one night's visit to the local winery topped of the week with the full romance of Italy.
Sallie D Medrano | June 8, 2016
My experience with Unearthing Ancient History in Tuscany was phenomenal. I want to thank the staff, Carolina Megale, Laura Riccadonna, Martina Fusi, and Stefano Genovesi for sharing their knowledge. I learned so much about archaeology. When anyone asked a question it was answered in detail. They treated us as students. This want-to-be Archaeologist appreciated their efforts, their cooking, and their company at the evening meals. I was in awe of what we got to do. To actually hold artifacts from two thousand years ago was such an experience. I thought volunteers would only be gofers for the staff, but no, we actually did work after a training session. The excitement I felt when after brushing the last layer of dust I uncovered a Roman wall of the Roman Villa. I will do it again. A co-volunteer and I are planning to go next year.
Rebecca Smith | June 25, 2015
This was the third time I participated in this expedition. Each time, I am amazed at how fully I was able to participate as if I were a trained archaeologist. The work was hard but so incredibly rewarding. The archaeologists in charge are absolutely wonderful, gifted, and dedicated individuals. The organization of this expedition is exceptional, due to the skills of all involved in setting it up and managing the work and the activities of the volunteers. The itinerary was so varied and we learned so many aspects of the history surrounding this site and its people. I am already planning to return next year. And, did I mention the food prepared for us was absolutely fabulous!

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.

Supported stories

Blog Post

When I Was 17, My Life Changed.

At age 17, Taormina Lepore boarded a plane for the very first time on her way to an archaeological excavation as an Earthwatch student fellow, funded by the Durfee Foundation.

Read More


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