Impero Archaeological Field School (May 26-June 27, 2019)
IMPERO (Interconnected Mobility of People and Economies along the River Ombrone) is a project committed to pushing the limits of classical and medieval archaeological research in rural Tuscany, Italy.
We need your help to uncover pasts unknown as we situate a Medieval castle and an Early Roman production center in a vast economic-spiritual network and bring the neglected lives of everyday people back to the light.
Towards this aim, the IMPERO Project calls on students to trowel away ancient stones and collect bones and slag ages before our time; yet, we are ultimately founded in people: The students, specialists, patrons, and the vibrant community to and for whom we unearth these structures are the heart and soul of the excavations.
With your donations, we can fuel this human core and bring our vision to life. This money will go directly towards reducing the field school costs for students so as many bright, young minds as possible may have the opportunity to participate in this captivating experience. Through an act of generosity that is 100% tax deductible, you too can be a part of the adventure—adding a bit of yourself to the excavation project.
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Overlooking the rolling hills of Southern Tuscany lies the 15th-century estate of Monteverdi where our adventure begins. Here, UB students and team members lace their steel-toed boots, prepare tools and supplies, and feed the team’s adopted, orange-tabby companion before setting off against the rose-gold sun.
Each weekday morning begins with this routine, but no two days are ever the same. Every day of excavation at the Roman site of Podere Cannicci yields new fragments of pottery to be cleaned with the aid of a brilliant, grinning specialist; every trek to the shaded stones of the 13th century Medieval ruins of Castellaraccio adds to the vision of the larger village obscured by earth. These moments are riddled with surprises for students and directors alike.
Built on an abandoned 4th century BC Etruscan settlement, Castellaraccio of Monteverdi lies in a strategic hilltop position overlooking the ruins of a Medieval bridge. The site contains an early Medieval castle amongst the vestiges of a larger village, including, potentially, the Church of St. George depicted on a map in the early 15th century. By the late 13th century, the castle was abandoned; material analysis will lend a window into the site’s early, unrecorded phases.
Stemming from the necropolis, cistern, and manufacturing settlement that orbit a rural sanctuary, Podere Cannicci tells a tale of continuity from pre-Roman ex-votos as old as the 5th century BCE. Imperial coins attest the site’s revival after its fiery abandonment brought on by the 1st century BCE civil war between Marius and Sulla. Upcoming excavations will investigate the sacred area linked to a nearby spring as well as the necropolis given new credence by the results of a geophysical survey.
A fuller understanding of these sites requires not only people in the trenches but the team behind the non-invasive technology that makes our research possible. The project relies on ground-penetrating radar to detect subsurface structures (left) and photogrammetry to create 3D models of our sites (right). In the upcoming years, this technology will develop a cutting-edge digital excavation to minimize ecological impact, preserve structures and artifacts for posterity, conduct thorough, international research year-round, and render our sites and finds accessible to the public.
The IMPERO Project ushers an education so multifarious that it not only challenges students to grow skills, confidence, appreciation, and lifelong connections, but it invites curious minds from every corner of study and expertise to revitalize the past, revel in the present, and broaden the horizons of the Project’s future.
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Although only begun in 2017, the IMPERO Project has already added pieces to the puzzle of spatial interconnectivity and temporal continuity in Southern Tuscany--expanding our imagination of how people lived and worked in the countryside. In the present day, the human heart of IMPERO beats strong and attests to a new connectivity: The sounds of Italian, English, Czech, and German echo from the dining hall of Monteverdi as the sun sets over green expanse and the tiny Tuscan town of Paganico. Nearby, the Ombrone River murmurs softly much as it has done for thousands of years. As gravel crunches beneath our footfalls, walking back to our accommodations to sleep and welcome the next day, the land remembers the trade, transmigration, the steps of vibrant life, Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval, coming together across the river valley and beyond. The soil waits for fresh laughter to be shared between friends as we bring forth mementos of the past back to the light.
The pottery of Podere Cannicci above the ground and below.
The Abbey of Sant’Antimo: The humans without and the treasures within
Castellaraccio on the page and in the trees
You can make our vision a reality--both from the trenches and from home! THANK YOU!
Learn about the Project:
Meet the Team:
Meet the Tech: