Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gabii Project at the 2012 AIA meetings

The Gabii Project will be well represented at the upcoming meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The AIA will convene January 6-8, 2012, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown (1201 Market Street · Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107 USA). 

The following Gabii Project presentations are planned:
  • Friday, January 6, 2012, 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Rachel OpitzAnna GalloneMarcello Mogetta, and Nicola Terrenato. "The Gabii Project: the 2011 season" in AIA Poster session 2J 
  • Sunday, January 8, 2012, 8:30 AM - 11:30 AMAnna Gallone. "The Use of Lead in Central Italian Funerary Contexts: The New Evidence from Gabii" in Paper session 7B (Roman Funerary Images and Ritual) 
Also on Friday, January 6, material related to the Gabii Project will be presented in a colloquium session focused on 'Comparative Urbanism in the Ancient Mediterranean World.' In that session, organized by Jeffrey Becker and Jamie Sewell, material relevant to Gabii will be part of papers by Becker ("Storied pasts? Archaic and Republican Urbanism Compared"), Marcello Mogetta ("Urban Villages: Comparing Iron Age Settlement Structure in Greece and Italy") and in the discussion offered and moderated by Nicola Terrenato.

We hope to see many of our Gabii Project friends and alums in Philadelphia!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Gabii Project announces its 2012 volunteer field program

Gabii Project 2011 team photo
The Gabii Project will offer a field program for students and volunteers in 2012; the program will run from June 24 until July 28, 2012.  Applications will be accepted online via the project's website and the deadline for applying to the program is February 28, 2012; all qualified students are eligible to apply, not just those associated with the University of Michigan. Notifications of acceptance will be made by March 16, 2012, and accepted volunteers must submit their payment in full by April 2, 2012, in order to secure their spot. No volunteer may participate in the program if the program fee has not been settled in full.  The cost for the 5-week program, inclusive of accommodation in Rome, Italy, insurance, equipment, and local transportation, will be $3,600 (USD) in 2012. At this time the possibility of receiving academic credit for participation in the field program is still being negotiated. A final decision will be reached before the application deadline. A credit option might involve an additional fee.

In order to apply
  1. Please complete the online application form. Please complete all required fields.  
  2. Then, please be sure to ask two professional recommenders (who know you either from an academic setting or a prior fieldwork experience) to send letters on your behalf to Dr. Jeffrey Becker ( - replace at with @) not later than February 28, 2012.

  • Volunteers are responsible for covering their own travel costs to and from Italy.
  • The point of arrival is Rome, Italy. Rome is served by two airports that handle international traffic. These are Leonardo da Vinci airport, also known as Fiumicino (FCO), and Ciampino airport (CIA) [also known as Aeroporto di Roma-Ciampino or Giovan Battista Pastine Airport].  Fiumicino handles long-haul international flights while Ciampino tends to receive short-haul, EU zone carriers.
  • The arrival packet distributed to confirmed volunteers will include specific arrival information and information and logistical details. 
Accommodation in Rome, Italy
    Accent International residence
  • The team will be accommodated in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood in dormitory/apartments provided and administered by the study abroad firm Accent International.
  • Student accommodations have two to four bedrooms with one to two bathrooms per residence.
  • All accommodations have been renovated recently and include common area, kitchen facilities, refrigerator, washing machine, television, and wireless internet. On-site 24-hour/7-days-a-week logistical support is also included.
  • Team members will also have access to a study center / business center operated by Accent International.
  • The program fee covers the cost of lunch (Monday-Friday), but not other meals which are self-catering.

 Work and instruction on-site at Gabii
  • Volunteers will work on-site Monday through Friday, usually arriving on-site by 7.30am. Prospective applicants should note that this is a labor-intensive program and be aware that working long hours in the hot sun is to be expected.  Average daytime temperatures will be in the range of 90˚ F or higher.
  • Applicants must be in good health, have passed a recent physical examination, and provide up-to-date records of current inoculations.
  • Volunteers will work in small teams supervised by experienced excavators.  Additionally, the field program will expose participants to all facets of fieldwork, including working with ceramics and other archaeological materials, environmental sampling, flotation, topography, conservation, and documentation.  A regular rotation will be established for field program participants.
  • Regular site tours (usually once every 7 to 10 days) will help keep all team members up to speed on the progress of excavation work in the various areas of the site.
  • Several optional weekend outings will be arranged where guided tours will be offered by staff members.  In past years weekend trips have included the Forum Romanum and Palatine Hill as well as Ostia Antica.
2011 volunteers at Ostia Antica
Atmosphere and Experience
  • The Gabii Project is a large team (50+ people) effort.  Teamwork is the key to our success, but the working conditions can be intense.  The successful applicant will be ready to work as part of a large team and welcome the opportunity to work and learn cooperatively.
  • The combined experience of the Gabii Project’s multi-national staff offers volunteers the opportunities to learn and practice some of the latest and most cutting edge techniques of field archaeology.  Additionally, an excellent staff to student ratio guarantees close instruction in field methodology. 
For University of Michigan Students
  • You may be eligible for financial aid via the University of Michigan.
  • You may be eligible for University of Michigan credit by enrolling for a fall 2012 independent study with Professor Nicola Terrenato. Contact Marcello Mogetta with your questions.
A note on funding

Students accepted for the field program are encouraged to seek outside funding sources to support their participation as the Gabii Project does not offer need-based financial support. Possible sources include one's home department or institution, as well as various competitive fieldwork fellowships like those administered by the Archaeological Institute of America and the Etruscan Foundation.
Trench tours on-site in 2011

Need more information?

Please contact Dr. Jeffrey Becker via email.

Download the .pdf version of the field program flyer.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Gabii Project publications: infant tombs and a new Latin inscription

Two new articles related to the Gabii Project's work have appeared this fall.

  • David Potter and Benjamin Fortson. 2011. "A Fragmentary Early Republican Public Inscription from Gabii." Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (ZPE) 178:255ff.
  • Jeffrey A. Becker and Jessica Nowlin. 2011. "Orientalizing infant burials from Gabii, Italy." BABESCH 86:29-37.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

End of the 2011 campaign

The sixth week of the Gabii field season was busy to the point of being frantic - thus the delay in getting this post up on the web. The week was one of finishing up various projects and beginning the process of finalizing the documentation of the 2011 excavations. We were undaunted by some mid-week rain and finished in fine fashion. Our final Friday was marked by a party in Frascati and the bulk of the team departed the following morning.

The archaeological picture at Gabii continues to become ever more complex. At this stage our team has explored parts of four city blocks and, in so doing, exposed multiple phases of the city's long and varied life. A huge revelation, so to speak, from the 2011 season has been the emergence of substantial architectural remains from multiple periods of the city's life. The Republican phases of the city are increasingly well-represented as we are beginning to see the presence of structures that were occupied in phase with the quasi-orthogonal grid of the Republican city. At this stage the project has explored parts of three side streets of that grid. The city's contraction, influenced in large part by the quarrying of lapis Gabinus involves the gradual abandonment of these city blocks and the subsequent collapse of the vacant buildings. At the southwest of our excavation area an Imperial necropolis emerged which has produced the lead "burrito" sarcophagus (2009) and now over 30 additional tombs of the Imperial period. The city's story is a rich one and a pleasant challenge to unravel.

The 2011 Gabii Project team

Nicola Terrenaton on-site during the final site tour of 2011.

Nicola Terrenato, the project's director, was pleased to announce on July 29th that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) had awarded him a 3-year collaborative research grant to support the project's research from 2012.

The final week on-site saw a core group of staff members working to complete documentation, finds recording, and end-of-season break down and storage of equipment and supplies. We completed a second round of aerial photography and also backfilled parts of the site - some permanently, others temporarily. Now that the team and staff have returned to their various countries (and continents) we begin the post-excavation process for the 2011 material and the planning process for the 2012 field season. See you in this space soon ...

The project is enormously thankful to its staff, students, and friends (thanks, Sandro!!) for a fantastic and productive 2011 season.

Our die hard staff.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Week 5 - helicopters, radar, and X-rays (oh my!) ...

The fifth week of our 2011 field campaign was abuzz with activity. In addition to our ongoing excavations in the ancient city of Gabii, the project continues to collect data by additional means. As in past years, we carried out a pass of aerial photography on-site via helicopter (thanks to Sgr. Italo Marini of the Fly Roma School) in order to see our work from a different angle. The utility of aerial photography in archaeology has long been proven and, in the case of urban sites such as Gabii, it is especially useful for recognizing alignments and orientations within the site. Happily, thanks to our surveying capabilities the aerial photographs can be orthorectified and incorporated into the Gabii GIS - super exciting!

Our intrepid field director Anna Gallone on the helicopter mission to take aerial photos of Gabii.
Our technological saturation only increased as the week went on as we were happy to benefit from the presence of specialist colleagues from Roma Tre University and Davidson College, respectively. From Roma Tre we welcomed Professor Elena Pettinelli and her team from the physics department who this week began additional tests using ground penetrating radar (GPR) at Gabii. This geophysical technique recognizes archaeology and geologic features by creating subsurface radar profiles and our project is beginning to test the effectiveness of GPR at Gabii as a guide to better understanding the site. Our physics colleagues were even generous enough to come out to Frascati and talk to our group about physics and its applications for archaeology.   

Elena Pettinelli from Roma Tre University.

We were also happy to welcome Prof. Ruth Beeston from the Chemistry Department at Davidson College in North Carolina. In conjunction with Hilary Becker, Ruth was in Italy to carry out XRF testing in the lab of the University of Michigan / University of Calabria project in the Area Sacra di Sant'Omobono in Rome and she was generous enough to come to Gabii with her XRF equipment. The handheld XRF equipment is used for conducting elemental analyses and Ruth's day of testing at Gabii included samples of human bones along with other specimens, including geologic ones. Adding XRF testing to our arsenal of investigative strategies is a boon to the research agenda of the Gabii Project.

Ruth Beeston and Austin Raymond in the lab at Gabii.

Davidson College crew at Gabii: Will Milvaney, Hilary Becker, Austin Raymond, and Ruth Beeston.

With all of this flying, zapping, and radar-ing, we would be remiss if we did not mention the excellent progress made in terms of excavation at Gabii. Our teams continued to make progress in all of our excavation areas, something that was evident to all of our visitors this week, including the local inspector of the archaeological service. As we move on to the sixth, and final, week of the 2011 campaign we continue to derive great excitement from our students and sharing with them the process of discovery at Gabii. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fourth week at Gabii

A pattern of oppressive heat and humidity gave way after mid-week and we finished this, our fourth week of the 2011 campaign, under beautiful skies at Gabii. Gabii Project veterans continue to marvel at Gabii's unique weather patterns, seemingly still influenced by the crater lake of Castiglione, although the lake was drained a long time ago. The winds helped to make the temperatures lovely for fieldwork - although the occasional blown paperwork or silt in the eye was a downside to the windy weather. In terms of archaeology, we had a productive week. In Area C we continued to delimit a Republican structure and in Area E a lot of hard work cleaning top soil and colluvium is starting to reveal interesting and promising wall features, in addition to more evidence for Gabii's street system. Elsewhere on the site we continue to work to complete the excavation of a structure in our Area B as well as to document and model various features, including digital tomb modeling. Our lecture program this week included presentations by Hilary Becker (Davidson College) on the inland economy of ancient Italy and by Ruth Beeston (Davidson College) on XRF and chemical applications in archaeology. Mid-week we were invited to visit the excavations of our 'neighbor' Marco Fabbri who is working at the site of an archaic building on the rim of the crater of Castiglione. To top off a great week, a number of the team joined Jeffrey Becker and Hilary Becker for a visit to the ruins of Ostia Antica on Saturday. All enjoyed a fun day walking and talking amidst the ruins. As we move on to the fifth week of this year's campaign, we look forward to what is sure to be an exciting new round of discoveries. The project also joined Google+ this week, so come join our circle(s)!

Austin Raymond (Davidson College).

Evan Goldstick (Michigan), Samuel Palumbo (Bryn Mawr) work with supervisor Jamie Sewell.

Ruth Beeston talks about chemistry and archaeology.

Part of our group at the sanctuary of Attis in the Campus of the Magna Mater. (l to r, starting with back row: Brandon Tomasso, Jacob Kovacs-Goodman, Evan Levine, Sheira Cohen, Jonathan Flynn, Julia Reilly, Aida Ali, Jackson Vaughn, Tim Hart, Ruth Beeston, Michael Beeston, Hilary Becker, Austin Raymond, Evan Goldstick, Nick Bartos, Christina Cha, Ilana Hill, Zoe Fox, Lauren Coughlin.

Part of our group at the Capitolium. (l to r, starting with back row: AJ Chrapliwy, Jackson Vaughn, Sam Palumbo, Evan Goldstick, Amanda Swango, Tim Hart, Austin Raymond, Sheira Cohen, Jeffrey Becker, Jacob Kovacs-Goodman, Brandon Tomasso, Sophia Staley, Laura Steitz, Carrie Wallace, Lauren Coughlin, Jonathan Flynn, Nick Bartos, Julia Reilly, Zoe Fox, Alison Rittershaus, Aida Ali, Ilana Hill, Christina Cha, Evan Levine.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Gabines on the Ianiculum?

Yes, it can happen - a geographic convergence of sorts, Gabines coming to the hills of Rome. This was the case on the evening of Saturday, July 9, 2011, when the American Academy in Rome and the University of Michigan's Office of Development hosted a reception for friends of the Gabii Project in the Academy's Bass Garden. Welcoming the group were project director Nicola Terrenato, Brodie Remington from the Office of Development, and T. Corey Brennan, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor-in-Charge of the School of Classical Studies at the American Academy. The welcome highlighted the strengths of the University of Michigan and its tradition of Roman studies and Classical archaeology, as well as the ties between the two institutions. After a discussion in the garden about the aims of the Gabii Project, the group adjourned to the Casa Rustica on the Academy's grounds for a visit with the lead sarcophagus excavated at Gabii in 2009. It was a lovely evening - with perfect weather - and the Gabii Project is grateful to its friends and supporters for coming out to share in both a lovely evening in Rome and in our fieldwork outcomes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Third week of the 2011 season

It seems unbelievable that we have reached the mid-way point of the 2011 field season. Things on-site at Gabii are so busy and our team (85 persons strong) is working so hard that time seems to be flying by this summer. Our week was very productive and was fortunate for good weather, save one rainy day. The excavations in Areas C, D, and E continue to work to delimit parts of city blocks, including phases that pre-date the imposition of Gabii's street grid that was exposed by survey. This involves looking not only for limits with respect to the blocks, but also to untangling what is looking to be a multi-phase architectural chronology. Area E (our newest area) is still in the process of clearing colluvial layers, but has in so doing exposed some promising wall tops and important evidence of our easternmost side street.

Stormy skies over the Ager Gabinus.

Sophia Staley (Brown) and David Zackheim (Williams) work with assistant supervisor Marilyn Evans (Berkeley), at center.

Laura Wilke (Cornell) and Bailey Benson (UPenn) work sorting pottery.

Area B Team on 8th July 2011 with supervisor Claudia Melisch, at center.
At the Villa Mercede we had two engaging lecture presentations by Nicola Terrenato and Abigail Crawford, respectively. Terrenato's talk on stratigraphy and the Harris matrix pushed students to think about the relationship of stratigraphic contexts on an archaeological site and the challenges of organizing stratigraphic information in a usable and lucid way. Crawford's talk on archaeological materials included a 'practical' component wherein students were given finds data and stratigraphic data for various units and asked to offer interpretations on that basis. Both exercises were very useful for our group.

Nicola Terrenato discusses the Harris matrix.
Abby Crawford discusses archaeological materials.

Alison Rittershaus (Harvard)

Nicola Terrenato capped the week with a presentation at the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome in tandem with a presentation of the publication of the Regional Pathways to Complexity Project. The event enjoyed an excellent turnout and the Gabii Project is extremely grateful to the Dutch Institute for the invitation to include our work in their event. On we go to the fourth week!

Nicola Terrenato discusses Gabii Project research on July 8, 2011.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Second week at Gabii - full steam ahead!

Somehow we have reached the end of the second full week of work with the full team on-site. In spite of a day of rest mid-week for the SS. Peter and Paul holiday, the week was very full, busy, and productive. We welcomed on-site 25 new student volunteers from the American Institute for Roman Culture in Rome who will spend the remainder of July working with our team. Some of them have joined existing excavation teams while others have formed a new team that is tackling a new area (Area E), so we welcome their arrival and participation.

Elsewhere on the site things are in full swing. The environmental lab is processing soil samples of all kinds, as well as setting up for what is to be a robust campaign of dry-sieving of soon-to-emerge occupation layers. In the finds lab the staff is working to collect and collate data on past season's finds, all the while processing new cassette as they come from the field.

For the 'diggers' work continues on structures in three of our areas, at this point the main goal is the delimiting of the ground plans of these buildings. To that end, we are working on a further expansion of one of our excavation baulks. On this, a beautiful Italian Saturday, we look forward to the upcoming third week of the 2011 campaign.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Gabii Project at the Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome

On July 8, 2011, at 18.00, the occasion of the presentation of the new volume Regional Pathways to Complexity: Settlement and Land-Use Dynamics in Early Italy from the Bronze Age to the Republican Period by Peter Attema, Gert-Jan Burgers, and Martijn van Leusen (Amsterdam, 2011) will provide the occasion for a presentation by Nicola Terrenato on the recent work of the Gabii Project under the title "The Gabii Project: Recent discoveries and perspectives".

The event is open to the public.

Koninklijk Nederlands Instituut Rome
Via Omero 10/12
00197 Rome, Italy

For more information, contact the Gabii Project (gabii.project (at) gmail (dot) com). For information on the venue or directions, please contact the Royal Netherlands Institute at Rome <>.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gabii 2011 • first week

Monday 20th June
Monday morning was fiercely hot and more humid than it has been - but no matter, we were on-site with nearly our full complement of staff and students. Since this was 'day one', the morning was given to orienting newcomers and re-orienting returning hands. Nicola Terrenato welcomed the group to Gabii and we also were briefed on various safety matters by Carlo Monda. Tours of Gabii's urban area and Iuno sanctuary were followed by tours of the various excavation areas. After lunch, students divided themselves into their respective excavation groups and got to work cleaning their sectors. For those of us watching them, their excitement was evident - as is ours as we begin another season's work at Gabii. In the early evening we re-convened to discuss documentation procedures for this year's excavation.

Nicola Terrenato welcomes the team.
Students introduce themselves to the group
Cleaning begins in Area D
Marcello Mogetta discusses stratigraphic recording.
Tuesday 21st June
Day two! Today was a beautiful day - sunny, but with our favorite Gabii breeze that cools but also creates oh-so-fun dust devils that zoom across the site. We also were joined by our sometimes orbiting friends: military pilots screeching across central Lazio, touch-and-go landing practice at Fly School Rome, and the mowing crew of the SAR. So, a busy day on the site! Once on-site today, everyone went straight to it. In Area B we have cleaning operations to complete the excavation and documentation of structure mostly exposed in 2010. In Areas C and D  a similar story is to be found, with lots of cleaning to be done to isolate features revealed by baulk expansions this spring. Since so much surface cleaning went on today, it was much fun to orbit around the site and see student reactions to artifact recovery. Even if only a sherd contained in a non-contextualized 'zero' layer, that first artifact can be a profound experience. It is particularly delightful to watch a meaningful understanding come across the face of a student whose prior experience has been with archaeological materials on the printed page or in the museum case - in one's hand it is a different story. Similarly, pottery washing in the lab, accompanied by instruction from Abby Crawford (BU), seemed to register with all involved. All in all, a good and productive day. 

Tim Hart (Michigan / IPGRH)

Aaron Chapnick (Buffalo) recording a feature with students.
Wednesday, June 22nd
The team seems to be getting into its daily rhythm - wake up, bus, on-site to gather tools, and off to work. We are operating three excavation areas again this year, thus three teams at work, plus the group in the finds processing lab and the topography team. From the directors' point of view, it is enjoyable to orbit the site and watch these groups working together. Today cleaning progressed and new excavation is underway in our Area C.

Zoe Fox (Bryn Mawr College) in Area B.

Jamie Sewell, AJ Chrapliwy (Michigan), and Evan Goldstick (Michigan) in Area C.

Jamie Sewell works on a section drawing.
Thursday, June 23rd
Today was an intensely hot day on the site. Excavation of an imperial cappuccina-type inhumation burial advanced significantly, as did work on section drawing in a modern feature in area C. Students are also rotating through the finds and environmental processing labs, learning the important ceramic typologies to be found at Gabii and assisting the environmental staff in recovery of ecofacts from soils samples. This process of environmental sampling stands the real chance of producing important environmental data like carbonized seeds and bones that can eventually help to reconstruct important aspects of the lifeways and diets of the inhabitants of the ancient city.

Supervisor Claudia Melisch works in Area B.

Samantha Lash (Michigan) and Austin Raymond (Davidson) in Area B.

Sabian Hasani (Michigan) in Area D.

Lauren Coughlin (UMBC) in Area D.

Friday, June 24th
Today, the final day of week one, happened under serene skies with a touch of cloud cover. It was a shorter day as the Soprintendenza elected to close the archaeological area earlier than usual, but nonetheless a great deal of progress was made in our excavation areas. All three areas are poised to move into stratified deposits in week two, the prospect of which is of course exciting. It is also evident that the 2011 team is developing a good camaraderie already at this early date.

Students work with Abby Crawford (BU) and Laura Wilke (Cornell) in the finds processing lab.

Emanuele Casagrande Cicci surveys in Area C.

Claudia Melisch, Alessia Nava, and Sabrina Zottis.

Andrew Johnston (Harvard) with students Jackson Vaughn (Kalamazoo), William Milvaney (Davidson), and Christina Cha (UCLA) in Area C.