ROMARCH: Archaeological Field School in Roman Pottery, Sangro Valley Italy, Summer 2014

A new Field School in Roman Pottery, associated with Oberlin College’s Sangro Valley Project, is accepting applications for its session to be held from 3 July to 27 July 2014.


The program’s aim is first to introduce the participants to the study of
Roman pottery and then for them to apply their knowledge under the guidance of the director and the assistant in processing the ceramic material from the Italian Superintendency’s excavations in the forum on Monte Pallano (Tornareccio, Abruzzo).

Potsherds constitute the most frequent group of finds on archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Pottery usually offers the most important evidence for dating sites. Furthermore, ceramological databases provide a good source for investigating issues ranging from trade relations to the consumption patterns of food and questions of identity. Nevertheless, the study of Roman pottery is often considered daunting, and the necessary hands-on experience is difficult to obtain.

The Field School in Roman Pottery at Tornareccio is a four-week program designed to introduce the participants to the basics of Roman pottery studies in order to enable them to approach a ceramic assemblage with confidence. It will be held in the Antiquarium at Tornareccio under the auspices of the Sangro Valley Project and in association with Oberlin College’s summer archaeology field school. Its curriculum has been developed during the director’s several decades of teaching at the Universities of Fribourg (Switzerland), Trento (Italy) and Suor Orsola Benincasa (Naples, Italy) and at the American Academy in Rome.

The program consists of two major elements. At the start of the course, the participants will learn how to identify, sort, quantify and document potsherds by functional groups, wares, fabrics and types. They will also become familiar with the basic bibliography for the various aspects of Roman pottery studies, including decoration and potters’ stamps where applicable. While the course will emphasize the practical aspects of the field, the wider implications of Roman ceramology will always be borne in mind – knowledge of Roman pottery is not an end in itself but rather a tool for understanding the Roman world – and examples of studies using the ceramic record to investigate matters ranging from trade relations to the consumption patterns of food and questions of identity will be discussed. The second part of the course will see the participants applying their new skills to previously unstudied ceramic material from the excavations of the Superintendency of Abruzzo in the area of the forum on Monte Pallano. This element is designed to give the participants practical experience by working on their own or in small groups under the supervision of the director and the assistant.

Director: Archer Martin – Research Associate at the University of Cologne

Assistant: Luana Toniolo – recent PhD of the Università “Ca’ Foscari” di Venezia

Dates: 3 July to 27 July 2014 

Application deadline: 7 March 2014

The program is intended for graduate students in archaeology and qualified advanced undergraduate students, but working archaeologists will also be considered. The program is open to candidates of all nationalities with a sufficient command of English.

Participants are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

A fee of $4800 covers tuition, lodging at Tornareccio, meals six days a week and materials supplied by the Summer School for use during the program. Transportation to and from Tornareccio and any incidental expenses are the participants’ responsibility.

An advance of $2000 is to be paid to Oberlin College upon acceptance into the program, no later than 31 March 2014. The balance of $2800 must be paid by 15 May 2014.

How to Apply

A complete application consists of a cover letter explaining why the program is of interest, a curriculum vitae and two letters of recommendation. Applications and all supporting materials, including recommendations, should be sent by email. The letters of recommendation must be sent directly by the individual referees.

Applications should be sent to

For a student-authored description of the 2014 field season, see this Oberlin blog post.

For questions and further information, contact

Archer Martin

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