AAR Launches Summer Skills Courses in Archaeology

November 5, 2013
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The American Academy in Rome will restart its summer archaeology program this summer with new courses designed to train students in 21st century skills.

Since 1991 the Academy has contributed to the training of young archaeologists, historians and classicists with summer programs and field schools. Over the past year, the Academy has worked both with its archaeology committee and in consultation with major Mediterranean archaeology programs in the United States to target this program on those skills most important for 21st century practice. Making use of its unique location in Rome and its collaborations with Italian institutions, the Academy aims to provide students with hands-on experience as well as the theoretical insights that will shape the next century of archaeological research. The result is the new Summer Skills Courses in Archaeology, which will offer short, intensive introductions to skills most required by young archaeologists, but often not available in U.S. programs. These courses alternate every other year, and will include the popular Howard Comfort FAAR’29 Summer Program in Roman Pottery.

The first of these Skills Courses will be Documentation and Analysis of Ancient Buildings, offered from June 3-21, 2014. Taught by Stephan Zink, University of Pennsylvania PhD and research associate in buildings archaeology at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, this course will offer an intensive introduction to the documentation, analysis, and interpretation of ancient architecture. Designed for students from all backgrounds - including archaeology, historic preservation, classics and history - the course will have students carrying out original fieldwork at a Roman temple in downtown Rome - the so-called Temple A at Largo Argentina, where they will learn how to produce plans and sections of a complex site using a combination of digital surveying and hand drawings. Afternoon classroom lectures will introduce students to the basic principles of ancient design and construction, as well as to theoretical questions related to the study and documentation of historical architecture. Finally, weekend field trips to architectural sites in and around Rome will provide an occasion to discuss examples of historical and modern preservation strategies and their approaches in creating ideas of the past through “designing” a ruin. This program will run in collaboration with the Swiss Federal Institute of Techonology and the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali.

In summer 2015, the Howard Comfort Faar ‘29 Pottery Program will return, taught by Archer Martin.

Andrew W. Mellon Professor Kim Bowes said of the new Summer Skills Courses in Archaeology: “Since its inception, the Academy has been one of the major centers of archaeological research abroad. With these new courses, the Academy hopes to produce a new generation of archaeologists, historical preservationists, classicists and historians with not only the technical skills needed to do major field projects, but also a heightened awareness of the many ways the past is constructed and represented.”

The application deadline for the 2014 Summer Skills Course in Archaeology is January 17, 2014. Costs, logistics and application information can all be found at