New Medieval and Classical Field Archaeology Opportunities in Transylvania, Romania – 2014 Programs

Sitting at the crossroads between Europe and Asia, Transylvania (Romania) plays a fundamental role in the development of the European world. By its geographic location, it is situated on the main communication and technological axes in and out of Europe and, as a result, became a very dynamic zone of culture synthesis. At the same time, not only it has the largest salt concentration in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, but it also provides easy access to massive deposits of copper, tin, iron, gold and coal. Since the earliest moments of tribal and then state formation and development, Transylvania has been at the core of all power struggles in Eastern-Southeastern Europe. Our programs invite students and volunteers to explore, excavate and experience the genesis of European culture from the Iron Age to the Late Middle Ages. Our participants can register to more than one ArchaeoTek project to expand their horizons in field archaeology, funerary archaeology, bioarchaeology and osteology (for more details, see


PROJECTS (see description below):


1. Roman Provincial Excavation and Survey – Life by the Imperial Road

2. Roman Capital Excavation – Sarmizegetusa, the First Roman City North of the Danube

 3. Medieval Funerary Excavation – Lost Churches Project: Living and Dying on the Edge of Europe
Excavation: Roman Provincial – Life by the Imperial Road

Location: Rapolt, Hunedoara County (Southern Transylvania), Romania

Period: Imperial Roman – Provincial

Excavation dates: June 1 – July 5, 2014

More information:

Contact e-mail:


Description: Our research area is situated between the richest gold deposits in Europe, the Dacian Kingdom’s political and religious capital and its fortified satellites in the Carpathian Mountains, and Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, the Roman capital of the Dacian provinces and the first Roman city North of the Danube, southwestern Transylvania was a highly integrated military, political, and economic region. During the Roman colonial occupation, 102-271AD, our target area around Simeria and Rapolt shows a very dynamic and intensive synthesis of Roman provincial life, where a multitude of processes of colonization and creolization take place side by side. Our project seeks to explore and understand the integration of all these structural provincial elements along the main Roman axes of communication and transport. Our excavations will aim at evaluating the importance and impact of the proximity of the main axis of movement, communication and commerce on the Roman provincial rural life, and its evolution through time.


Excavation – Roman Imperial – Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana, Capital of the Dacian Provinces

Location: Sarmizegetusa, Transylvania, Romania

Dates: July 6 – August 9, 2014

More information:

Contact e-mail:

Description:  In the plains at the foot of the majestic Retezat Mountains in Southern Transylvania, rose the first Roman metropolis north on the Danube:  Colonia Ulpia Traiana Augusta Dacica Sarmizegea. Located less than 50km from the former capital of the mighty Dacians finally defeated in 106 by Trajan’s legions, it was built on a strategic point where a battle between the Roman legions and the Dacian troops took place. Sarmizegetusa Ulpia Traiana quickly became the largest city in Roman Dacia and the capital of the Dacian Provinces. With an area of over 30ha, it was a very imposing cosmopolitan center, featuring four Palmyrene temples (among many others), a large forum with associated buildings, an amphitheater, gladiator schools, imposing fortifications and several necropoles. At the present time, less than 15% of the site has been exposed, revealing a cosmopolitan and rich metropolis. Our excavation will continue the exploration of the Forum and associated temples as well as identifying domestic living structures outside the public plazzas. We will also survey the city necropolises and possibly start work on a funeral household enclosure.

Excavation: Medieval Funerary – Lost Churches Project: Living and Dying on the Edge of Europe

Location: Valeni, Harghita County (Central Transylvania), Romania

Period: Imperial Roman – Provincial

Excavation dates:

Session 1: June 8 – July 5, 2014

Session 2: July 6 – July 26, 2014

More information:

Contact e-mail:


Description: As the 15th century ends, the battle for Europe continues! The heroes (and their legend) that held back the Ottoman East have died: Vlad Dracula the Impaler  in 1476; Holy Stephan the Great in 1504; Skanderberg in 1468. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the European defeat at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 opened the way for the Ottoman expansion into Europe, all the way to the gates of Vienna. The Saxon fortresses and the Szekely armies managed to hold the Ottomans at bay as the Principality of Transylvania was born in 1570. Turkish pressure combined with the struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism has generated an extraordinary environment that impacted the local populations in a variety of ways, both physiologically and socio-culturally. During the 2014 season, we will continue to excavate the churches – and very well preserved associated cemeteries – that dramatically closed down at the end of the 17th century, to the point where they were erased from local collective memory. Our aim is to explore how major, global historical events are experienced at the local and personal (hence physiological) level, by the communities and individuals themselves.


Our projects are designed as intensive hands-on field experience programs and, as such, are open for both credit student and non-credit participants. For more information on this program, see attached brochures or visit .



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