Antonio LoPiano: Vulci 3000 Archaeological Project, Vulci, Italy

Research Travel Award Winner (Graduate): Summer 2018

Thanks to the generous research funding provided by the department this summer I was able to participate in the Vulci 3000 archaeological project lead by Professor Maurizio Forte where I was able to expand my field experience and contribute to profoundly important research into Etruscan and Roman civilization. The project focuses on investigating the urban fabric of the Etruscan and then later Roman city of Vulci in modern day Lazio, Italy. Vulci was initially settled 3,000 years ago and by the 8th century it had grown into a powerful city state engaging in trade with cultures around the Mediterranean. The famous opulence of the tombs surrounding Vulci are indicative of the wealth and power this trade generated. These important tombs have long been studied by archaeologists for their insights into Etruscan culture.

Excavating a public building along the decumanus of Vulci
Excavating a public building along the decumanus of Vulci

However, the urban fabric of the city itself has gone relatively understudied, despite the fact that it was one of few Etruscan cities not covered over by later medieval, renaissance, and modern occupation levels. The Vulci 3000 project is seeking to take advantage of this remarkable state of accessibility to fill in large gaps in the understanding of urbanization in Etruria and the Italian peninsula. To accomplish this we have undertaken excavations in the urban center itself and large scale remote sensing surveys to provide a more wholistic view of the urban organization. As part of the project I learned how to leverage a variety of these digital tools and platforms to record and analyze archaeological data, including photogrammetry, geographic information systems, and ground penetrating radar.

I was also able to visit a variety of sites around Italy that contributed to my knowledge of Etruscan and Roman architecture and urban organization. The tombs and temples of Tarquinia, the grand subterranean halls of the Domus Aurea, and the theatre of Herculaneum opened to limited visitors for the first in over 40 years. All in all, it was a productive, engaging, and exciting summer.