The Field School in Medieval Archaeology and Bioarchaeology at Badia Pozzeveri (Lucca, Italy) is an academic program aimed at training students in archaeological and bioarchaeological field and laboratory methods. Excavations will take place at the church of “San Pietro a Pozzeveri” in the municipality of Altopascio. Badia Pozzeveri is located approximately 10 miles east of the city of Lucca, capital of the Tuscan province of the same name. San Pietro’s church was once part of a Camaldolese monastery, which was founded in the 11th century on the shores of Lake Bientina. The medieval lake, now entirely dried up, extended between Lucca and the Arno River. The monastery flourished during the 12-13th centuries thanks to its location along the Via Francigena, a major trade and pilgrimage route, which connected France and Northern Europe with Rome throughout the entire Middle Ages.    The monastery’s decline started in the 14th century and eventually led to its dissolution in the 15th century. San Pietro’s church remained as the village’s center of worship and is still in use.

Previous excavations conducted at the site exposed human burials dated to the middle ages, the renaissance and modern (18th-19th c.) times. Additionally, archaeological investigations revealed the buried remnants of a post-medieval building adjacent to the church, as well as structures belonging to the medieval church and cloister. Excavations at the site have exposed the 19th c. cemetery (including burials attributed to the cholera epidemics that afflicted Tuscany in 1855 AD) and identified buried remnants of a post-medieval building adjacent to the church, as well as structures belonging to the medieval church and cloister. During the 2017 field season, the field school will continue to explore the medieval and post-medieval levels of the site, including the cemetery as well as the monastery’s ruins.

The field school is a project created by the University of Pisa and managed by IRLAB (Institute for Research and Learning in Archaeology and Bioarchaeology), investigating biocultural complexity in the region surrounding Lucca during the Middle Ages. Specifically, the research project has the following objectives:

  • Excavation and analysis of the monastery’s cemetery, with particular attention to population demography, burial typology, and funerary ritual.
  • Bioarchaeological analysis of the medieval population buried at Badia Pozzeveri, with particular attention to biological diversity, paleopathology, and activity patterns.
  • Reconstruction of the settlement’s evolution from the Early Middle Ages until Modern times.
  • Analysis of material culture from a monastic center along the Via Francigena, with particular attention to trade dynamics, diffusion of technical knowledge and economic activities related to monastic life.

Learning objectives of this course

The field school at Badia Pozzeveri is an outstanding opportunity for students to gain practical experience in archaeological excavation and bioarchaeological investigation by working side-by-side with leading researchers in the field. The field school is designed to provide participants with knowledge of archaeological field methods, including:

  • Survey and excavation
  • GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and informatics
  • Bioarchaeological field and research methods
  • Recovery, restoration, and analysis of human skeletal remains.

Practical, hands-on experience in the field will be complemented by laboratory activity in archaeology and bioarchaeology.  Lectures by the directors and instructors on their research will also provide students with insights in the theory and practice of archaeology and physical anthropology.

Excavation and Lecture Schedule

Excavation will take place daily, Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm, with an hour lunch break. At the beginning of the field school, the instructors will divide the students in four groups and each group will be assigned to a specific excavation area. Area assignments are based on a variety of factors, including experience and interests, and decisions are final. Given the didactic value of direct involvement in – and observation of the progression of – archaeological investigation, students are expected to actively contribute to the excavation of their area for the entire duration of the field school. The excavation areas at Badia Pozzeveri differ somewhat in their investigation focus and there is no guarantee that all participants will be equally involved in the excavation of human remains.   Laboratories will be held in parallel with excavation. Laboratory activities may include cleaning, labeling, restoring, and analyzing skeletal remains and artifacts, as well as elaboration of photographs and GIS records. Such activities will be held at the instructors’ discretion and will involve only small groups of students (2-3 per lab) at a time. Lectures may be given in the morning once or twice a week. In case of inclement weather, excavation will be replaced with laboratory activities and lectures. At the end of the working day students will have time to relax and shower. Students and staff will dine together at 8:00 pm-8:30 pm.

Admission Procedure

Should minimum attendance requirement of 15 students not be met, course will be cancelled.

The Summer School has no formal prerequisites; students will be fully trained for all the activities they experience. Students interested in applying to the Summer School must fill out and submit the online Application Form.
The application deadline is May 31, 2017. However, applications are reviewed as soon as they are received and successful applicants accepted right away.
Curriculum vitae and/or reference letters (e-mails) may be requested. The staff reserves the right to verify any of the information reported in the application form and request supporting documentation (e.g., advising reports; references) in its sole discretion. Staff will make final decisions regarding enrolment.
Acceptance will be communicated by e-mail. Upon acceptance, students will receive detailed instructions on how to submit required documentation and payments:
•  Proof of Insurance: students must have valid international health and injury insurance (made available through student travel centers) and must provide the insurance provider’s contact information, as well as the policy number, including a proof of tetanus vaccination (or booster) within the last 10 years
•  Release form: all students must read and accept the terms of the IRLAB Participation Agreement to participate in the program; a signed release form must be submitted prior to the start date of the Summer School.
•  Fee Payment: Students will be required to pay fees in full within 15 business days of receipt of the invoice sent by mail in case of admission. In case of student withdrawal, all fees minus a non-refundable deposit of $500 will be refunded until May 31, 2017. After May 31, 2017 fees will not be refunded. In the unlikely event of course cancellation, fees will be refunded in full (any applicable processing fees may not be refunded). Failure to provide all the above-mentioned documents and payment within the terms specified at the time of admission will constitute an automatic forfeiture of the student’s place in the summer school.
Failure to provide all the above-mentioned documents and payment within the terms specified at the time of admission will constitute an automatic forfeiture of the student’s place in the summer school.


  • First session: June 19th to July 7th
  • Second session: July 10th to July 28th

Tuition and Fees


The cost covers Field School activities (excavation practice, lectures, laboratory activities and instruments), meals (MON to FRI: breakfast, lunch and dinner), accommodation and airport pick-up service (set schedule); registration and enrollment fees with the University of Pisa for 16 credit hours. Additional documentation and payment processing fees (not to exceed $80/session) will be applied to the final invoice.


The course is open to up to 30 undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate students in archeology, anthropology or allied disciplines from any country and institution.


  • Housing
    Housing is provided by the Summer School.
  • Meals
    Participants in the Summer School will be provided with breakfast, lunch and dinner from Monday to Friday.

Working Hours

Monday through Friday, 8:00am-6:00pm (including one hour lunch break).

Structure and Methodologies

The course will be offered in English (with optional Italian translation) in the following formats:

  • Field practice
  • Lectures
  • Labs
  • Workshops

Academic Credits

  • Earning of 16 undergraduate ECTS credits through the University of Pisa
  • Certificate of participation from the University  of Pisa
  • Certificate of participation from IRLAB




Scientific supervisor:
Gino Fornaciari

Valentina Giuffra

Antonio Fornaciari
Francesco Coschino

Field supervisors:
Alessandro Cariboni
Letizia Cavallini
Alan Farnocchia
Silvia Testi

Informatics supervisor:
Taylor Zaneri

Osteolab supervisor:
Marilina D’Andretta

Documentation supervisors:
Deborah Camotti
Giuseppina Pisana

Restoration supervisor:
Maurizio Sparavelli

Student coordinator:
Suzanna Tremblay