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The University of Southampton
Lifelong Learning

Portus Field School

The Portus multi-disciplinary field school provides a novel educational experience by offering hands-on, team-focused training in a variety of techniques used in modern archaeological fieldwork.

Course information

The Field School, organized by the University of Southampton, will offer a combination of hands-on practical training and academic content. The academic content of the programme is primarily concerned with Roman imperial history and material culture, with a particular reference to archaeology of the Tiber delta and Rome. Fieldwork training will focus is on theories, techniques and strategies of survey and excavation, archaeological stratigraphy, sampling procedures, field data collection and recording methods, documentation and report preparation. Students will also learn to map, recover, catalogue, and process archaeological artefacts.

The students will receive practical training in the following areas:

Field School Schedule

The Portus Field School will run for three weeks. The Field School begins on Sunday June 22nd, with a welcome dinner for all participants, and the last working day is Friday July 11th. The normal working day is from 8:00AM to 6:00PM, with a coffee break and a lunch break. We will work five days a week, with Saturday and Sunday being days off. On most Saturdays field trips will be organized to sites and museums in the area, while Sundays will always be free time to use as you like: explore the area, go to Rome or the beach.

Before you arrive you will be invited to take part in an online forum, where you will be provided with necessary background information, including a field school handbook with brief introduction to the site, outlining our aims, results and methods, providing further practical information. The forum is also a place where all participants of the field school can discuss various aspects of the site, fieldwork, the set reading, learning outcome expectations, etc. This forum will remain open in the months prior to and following the field school.

On your first working day you will be given a half-day introduction to the site and the field techniques you will be using. This will include a Health and Safety briefing, followed by a site tour. You will be assigned to a particular trench and site supervisor on the excavation, who will be on hand to give you constant guidance. During the following weeks you will be given field tuition as you are rotated through different tasks, allowing you the chance to try your hand at all aspects of excavation. At the end of every week all participants will be kept up-to-date with overall site progress by means of a weekly site tour. This training will be supplemented with lectures given by field school staff and visitors. These will provide participants of all levels with an understanding of the wider context in which the work at the site is situated. Study visits will be organized to sites and museums in the wider area, including Rome and Ostia.


Getting to Portus

Each participant is to arrange their own travel to Rome. You will be picked up from the Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) airport, whether you are arriving there by plane, by car or by train from Rome, depending on your itinerary and plans prior to the Field School. Field school students should arrive on Sunday June 22nd. Last working day will be Friday 11th July- you are free to leave on the 12th or stay till the 13th when all of the team will be leaving. All transportation during your stay that is related to Field School activities (daily transfer to and from the site, transfer to and from the airport, and well as field trips) is arranged and included in the project fee.

At the site

The site of Portus is large and remote from the present-day town of Fiumicino, but the facilities at the site are surprisingly adequate, thanks to the old Hunting Lodge (Casale) that Dukes Cesarini constructed at the time when the site was their pleasure garden. This building serves a number of purposes today, and we use it for finds processing, lectures, recording and documentation work. It is also where we take lunch breaks. The Casale is equipped with toilets and some kitchen facilities.


All participants will be staying in comfortable family run B&Bs in the town of Fiumicino. Expect to share the room with one or two other participants, with 2 to 4 people sharing a bathroom. B&Bs vary slightly, but most B&B’s have a fully equipped kitchen, facilities for washing clothes and internet. All of the B&Bs are in the Fiumicino itself, so within an easy reach of shops, restaurants, pharmacies, the beach and all other amenities that this town provides.


You will be taking breakfast in the B&B before being picked up to go to the site. Packed lunches are provided at the site, as well as unlimited quantities of bottled water. Tea, coffee and biscuits are served in the mid-morning break. Mondays- Fridays and on Sunday evenings the whole team meets for a dinner in a local restaurant, which consists of simple local fare. There are options available for vegetarians, and it is crucial that dietary requirements have been specified in advance within the application process.


We provide most of the excavation and protective equipment that you will need, as well as the field journals that those doing the course for credits will be obliged to keep. We would ask you however to bring the following items: your own trowel (WHS trowel or similar) and steel toe-capped boots (safety requirement under the Italian law). You should also bring protective gloves, and some prefer to have their own writing and drawing utensils.


£3,500 (Deposit £500)

The fee includes tuition, accommodation, workdays meals and Sunday dinners, programme activities and excursions, airport transfer and daily transport to/from the site. Airfare and health/travel insurance are not included.


Application for the 2014 Field Season is now open.

Applicants should email a copy of their CV to the Field School Director ( with an accompanying letter explaining why they wish to take part in the field school and what they expect to gain from it.

Once you have applied, you will be informed of the outcome of your application within 14 days. Applications are dealt with on a first come first served basis and early application is encouraged as places on the Field School fill up very quickly.

More information is available on the Portus Project website

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Location: Portus, Rome


22 June - 13 July 2014




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