Apolline Project

illuminating the dark side of Vesuvius

Call for Participants - Be part of the Apolline Project


The Apolline Project

The Apolline Project is a multi-disciplinary research project which seeks to bring to light the hitherto neglected past of the area to the north of the spectacular Mt. Vesuvius and the Apennines. The project has several components, but major excavation work has up until this point focused upon the well preserved post-79 AD Roman baths at Pollena Trocchia. Please browse the relevant pages in this website to know more about our general research questions and the methodology used in the study of pottery, ecofacts, and volcanic fills.
The results gained so far have been presented worldwide and published in an edited book and in several articles, which you can download. In 2011 this project was awarded the European Archaeological Heritage Prize, especially in consideration of our commitment to the local community.

The Apolline Project is also a registered non-profit organisation, thus we are legally committed to not make any profit from your donations and to spend the entire amount in activities which have a social impact, specifically to foster the research and to raise awareness of the past among the local population. Furthermore, we maintain a high level of scholarship and participation on our excavation, but pledge also to keep the participation affordable.

This page provides some general information on our open projects, both fieldworks and classes, and how to apply for them. Please note that our projects are quite popular (we received 300 applications for the Summer 2014 campaign), but we can host only 20 people for each slot, therefore we encourage you to apply asap.

Open Projects

The Apolline Project is now open to applications for the 2017 lab and field activities, which can be divided into: pottery classes, dig at the ancient city of Aeclanum, boot camp of human forensic at Aeclanum, study the pottery assemblage from the Suburban Baths in Pompeii, and courses on epigraphy, geophysics, restoration, and Roman Architecture!

The Pottery classes at the Roman Villa with Baths: the full study and publication of the Roman villa with baths in Pollena Trocchia is one of the main aims of the Apolline Project. The villa was built right above the ashes of the famous Pompeian eruption occurred in AD 79 and continued to be used until the late antique eruption of Vesuvius in AD 472. The project runs actively since 2007, with a constantly increasing number of participants. The ambience on site is free from tensions, all team members are treated as peers and partake in the interpretative process, but they are required to work hard. Students willing to longer commit themselves to the project generally gain more responsibilities (study and publication of the artefacts).
The classes will take place from the 19th of June to the 11th of August. Further details on program and deadline is available at this page.

The Excavation of the Roman city of Aeclanum: join us in this new, exciting chapter of the Apolline Project, the excavation of Aeclanum! Aeclanum (map) lies beyond the shores of Naples, Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius, in inner Campania and more precisely in the mountainous district of Hirpinia, which in antiquity constituted the southern part of Samnium. Although the site is by no means small (at least 18 hectares), only a few buildings have been brought to light so far, notably several houses, part of the market building, an early Christian church, and a set of large Roman baths, which are extremely well preserved. The quality of the architectural remains and artefacts (including marble statues) brought to light so far is exceptional and speaks of a considerable level of wealth during the Roman and early Medieval periods.
The Apolline Project has a special interest in Aeclanum and more broadly the entire area of Hirpinia, because the environmental model built for the environs of Vesuvius points to certain degrees of economic interdependence between the Campanian plains and the mountains of Samnium, thus Aeclanum works as an ideal control test for our theories. Similar to Pollena Trocchia and the North Slope of Vesuvius, Aeclanum and Hirpinia are ignored by the mainstream archaeological scholarship, which is still focused on Pompeii and Herculaneum, and thus this new chapter of the Apolline Project fuels our aim to shed light on previously ignored areas and to connect to the local population.

In 2016, we undertook a pilot season of re-exploration, documentation, geophysics and conservation at the site, with spectacular results. In 2017, we will excavate some of the structures unearthed during this first season – including what is probably the city’s theatre – as well as continuing to work on the large baths, which are only now beginning to reveal their full history. This is a fantastic and rare opportunity for any student who wants to develop an understanding of how an excavation starts, from the ground up, and experience the complexity of dealing with Roman urban stratigraphy. A combination of survey and excavation also provides a well-rounded archaeological experience, while additional opportunities for working on ceramics and marble finds will be provided.
The Summer fieldwork 2017 will take place from the 19th of June to the 28th of July and students can apply from a minimum of two weeks to the entire period. Further details on program and deadline is available at this page. NOTA BENE: all slots are currently full, we encourage you to apply to the other programmes.

The artefacts of the Suburban Baths in Pompeii: since 2004 the Apolline Project has fostered research beyond the geographic and chronological limits of Pompeii and Herculaneum by nurturing a new generation of archaeologists in the “dark side” of Vesuvius. After 11 years, in 2015, we started a new and exciting chapter with the “Pompeii beyond Pompeii” project. The Suburban Baths are one of the most iconic buildings in Pompeii and famous mostly for the frescos with erotic subjects, but in our opinion the site’s evidence has been overlooked. Indeed the building, lying on a slope just outside the volcanic plateau where Pompeii was built, was only partially covered by the ashes of the AD 79 eruption. After the catastrophe, the local population returned and spoliated the marble decorations, while other potsherds show that the site was frequently visited also in late antiquity and throughout the Medieval period, until the end of the 18th century. Therefore the Suburban Baths have the potential to expand the history of Pompeii beyond the eruption.
The Apolline Project aims to study and publish the site in its entirety, starting from the pre- and post-79 pottery. Every year we process, study, and publish the artefacts from one room of the baths. In 2015 we took care of the remains from the piscina calida, which mostly consist of pre-79 artefacts. The results are currently in press in a book edited by the Archaeological Superintendency. The activities of 2016 focused on the nymphaeum, where among the pre-79 artefacts a decent amount of late antique pottery has been found too. The outcome of our research will be presented in May 2017 at the Late Roman Coarse Ware conference, and published soon after in their proceedings. The 2017 study season will be centred around the laconicum and will take place from July 3rd to 28th at the cost of 850EUR.

Students will learn the fundamental skills to process any ceramic assemblage from the washing and marking, to the different methods of drawing pottery; students will become familiar with the different pottery classes attested in Campania. The study season will alternate formal lectures on specific topics in Roman pottery with hands-on activities, following our two-fold aim of studying the evidence while nurturing the most-talented archaeologists to become specialists.
The participation includes tuition, accommodation in our headquarters in Pollena Trocchia, and the train tickets for the daily commute to Pompeii. Please note that the Apolline Project is a registered non-profit organisation; the donations will be used to run the project and continue the restoration works and outreach programs. To apply, click here.

The Study of the Human Bones: for those interested in learning how to interpret a historic skeletal assemblage, the Apolline Project is offering a two-week intensive boot camp in physical anthropology. Students will be instructed and immersed in the practical application of techniques used to correctly analyse human remains and will play an integral role in helping to better understand the previously unstudied collection (a minimum of about 60 individuals) of Aeclanum. In general, days will begin with a formal lecture, followed by practical learning on the human remains.
The next workshop will take place from July 31st to August 11th; further details on program and deadline are available at this page.

The Latin inscriptions at Aeclanum: With over four hundred edited inscriptions, some of which are still on display, the ancient Roman town of Aeclanum in Campania offers much to those who want to study Latin epigraphy in an urban context different from the city of Rome, and yet still at the very heart of Italy. To showcase the peculiarity of the local inscriptions, the Apolline Project is launching a Summer School on Latin epigraphy that will be focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on localism and municipal life outside of Rome. The Summer School will run in Mirabella Eclano, a charming small town in the Irpinian Apennine, roughly 90 kms inland from Naples, Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in the vicinity of Benevento and Avellino. Students will have a chance to familiarise themselves with the various stones used at Aeclanum, and to interpret and study first-hand various different kinds of inscriptions.

Practical lessons will involve how take pictures for 3D reconstruction, as well as how to do rubbings and squeezes. Students will be taught how to produce a critical edition for publishing, how to use the C.I.L. and other major corpora to retrieve bibliographical information, and how to employ online databases for comparative studies. More general lessons will cover the relevant aspects of Latin epigraphy for those who approach the discipline for the first time; a basic knowledge of Latin is preferred, but not essential. Practical sessions will be carried out on site, in the ancient town of Aeclanum, as well as in the nearby modern town of Mirabella Eclano. Theoretical classes will be taught in the facilities of the Apolline’s project in Mirabella Eclano, and students are required to bring their own laptop. The course will include a visit to the lapidarium of the Museo del Sannio in Benevento. The participation fee is 200EUR and covers shared accommodation in the facilities of the Apolline Project. Meals will not be provided, but the facilities are equipped with a kitchen, and food can be purchased locally at a reasonable price.
The Summer School will run for one week, from July 31st to August 4th. The course is limited to 10 places and is open to undergraduate and postgraduate students alike. To apply, click here.

Geophysical prospection from GPR to archaeological stratigraphy: For the students interested in learning how to plan, conduct and interpret a geophysical survey on a Roman urban site, the Apolline Project is offering a two-week intensive boot camp in GPR (ground-penetrating radar).

Integrating theory and practice, the course gives the opportunity to get fully engaged in the 2017 geophysical survey at this unique Roman city. Participants will be involved directly in every phase of the archaeological prospection, from planning, data collection and processing, information management and archaeological interpretation, while lectures and field/lab activities will cover a wide spectrum of topics relating to this discipline.

Upon completion, participants will acquire a basic knowledge of the physical principles involved in geophysics, a good understanding of survey planning, GPR data collection and processing, GPR data visualization (2D and 3D), archaeological interpretation of GPR data, implementation of GIS platform to integrate geophysical and archaeological data.

The course will run from July 31st to August 11th and costs 500EUR. It includes accommodation in Mirabella Eclano. To apply, click here.

Survey of Roman Architecture: The suburban villa on via Saccaccio in Nola is one of the few villae excavated in the area north of Vesuvius. It has been excavated since the 1970’s, yet never fully published. Now it is our turn to survey, draw and analyse the architectural remains using modern techniques. The structure, standing up to 2 m, dates from the 2nd century BC to the 6th century AD and is a valuable example of changes in the construction techniques and use of the villa in the course of history.
Course objectives: The class focuses on the documentation and reading of architectural remains. In the field you will learn how to map and document architectural remains, identify various construction techniques, and to understand building phases. In the lab, you will learn how to process the data collected on site using structure from motion technology and AutoCAD. By the end of the course you will know the Roman construction techniques, you will be comfortable with surveying and drawing structures and producing representative plans.
Lesson plan
The programme will take place both on site at the Roman villa and in the lab, covering the following topics:
  • Introduction of the villa on via Saccaccio in context of Nola and its territory.
  • Technical analysis of the extant structures and its importance to the comprehension of the site.
  • Survey and mapping of the site using both total station and traditional techniques (i.e. triangulation, baseline offset)
  • Photographic documentation of elevations and creation of a 3D model using structure from motion technology.
  • Vectorisation of elevations using AutoCAD.


The course takes place between August 14th and 25th, which means 10 days of field and lab work with a free weekend, and costs 300EUR. Participants shall arrive during the weekend before the course begins. Upon request, participants can stay in our accommodation for longer period to further explore the region.
Necessary equipment: We kindly ask the participants to bring their own laptops with educational version of AutoCAD installed. Educational version can be downloaded for free after registration on the Autodesk’s website and the license is valid for 3 years.

The courses on restoration are a new, important asset of the Apolline Project. In recent years we have become more and more concerned about the problems of conservation and preservation of the sites and artefacts that we bring to light. We try to do our part, achieved already much more than the average archaeological projects, and in our ongoing excavations we spend about half of the budget solely on restoration and preservation, but it is not enough. We need to do our part in raising awareness among archaeologists and help disseminate the basics of restoration to a wider public. Our new courses on restoration helps us to fulfil that need.

The course on restoration of the artefacts provides a comprehensive introduction to the current theories and practices in this fields. After a general overview on how to categorise the objects and identify the pottery classes and types, the students will participate in all activities involved in the restoration of the artefacts, from the documentation (description, drawing, photography) to the first cleaning (with brushes, scalpels, chemical solvents), from the consolidation to the stitching to the final integration. The course will run from July 31st to August 11th (400EUR). The fees include tuition and accommodation in our headquarters in Pollena Trocchia.


How to apply

The application process is easy and straightforward. Please follow this link and complete the electronic application. Applicants are required to provide name and contact information of a relevant person – such as a professor or previous excavation supervisor – who can verify the details you provide in your application. Any application submitted will be strongly considered and processed within three weeks (unless you need to know it earlier for a grant proposal with your University, in that case please specify it in the application). However, there is a limited number of spaces so the earlier you apply the greater your chances of being accepted. We offer a select number of scholarships to participants to the pottery course in Pollena Trocchia, each worth 500 Euros. To apply, please have two letters of recommendation sent by your referees to secretary@apollineproject.org by Friday, May 5, 2017. These letters and your project application will be used to evaluate your eligibility for the scholarship. We do require payment in advance of the scholarship decision. The awardee(s) will be given the scholarship prize on site as a reimbursement.


Free Time


During free time it is possible to enjoy the unique local culture and heritage and trips can be organised in collaboration with other members of the project to various destinations. For those staying in Pollena Trocchia, Naples and Rome are both at accessible distances and participants are encouraged to make the most of their stay by exploring the rich heritage – both natural and man-made – that the region has to offer. Highlights include Mt. Vesuvius, the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples – which houses famous works such as the Battle of Alexander Mosaic – as well as numerous churches, castles and palaces. In addition, the historic towns of Sorrento and Amalfi are situated nearby on the stunning Amalfi coast. The island of Capri, home to such historical figures as the Emperor Tiberius, is also a must.

To anyone with an interest in archaeology or Roman history, Pompeii and Herculaneum (among other famous archaeological sites in this area), are essential visits only a short train ride from your accommodation, while Rome and Florence are just a few hours away (respectively 1 and 3 hours with the fast train from Naples). Students can plan visits independently or ask us to arrange an optional bus tour for them.

Travel and Transport

Aeroporto Capodichino – or Naples Airport – is the closest to the environs of Vesuvius, and while participants are required to cover the costs of their own flights a supervising member of the excavation team will be happy to pick you up and drive you to your accommodation. This can be arranged once your application has been approved and the details of your flight confirmed. For those staying in Pollena Trocchia, public transport in the area – including trains and buses – is good and participants will be able to move around the area with ease. If your application is successful you will be provided with further logistical information in a welcome email.


For international participants to the fieldwork and lab work in Pollena Trocchia and Pompeii, accommodation will be provided at Cappabianca – a late 19th-century palazzo only a short walk from the Roman villa with baths. Guests should expect the amenities to be on par with what is generally expected when staying in a hostel. For international participants this is included in the price, along with kitchen, showers and washing facilities. If preferred, at extra cost it can be arranged for students to stay in local hotel accommodation, although students generally prefer to stay in Cappabianca.
For international participants to the other projects based at Aeclanum, a former school in dormitory conditions is available.

Important disclaimer

The Apolline Project is not a company nor makes financial gain from the activity that it runs. It is an open network of scholars who make research, restoration, and public archaeology. It uses a legally-recognised non-profit organisation (Associazione Apolline Onlus) to collect and use funds.
Please consider donating, we do need your support and generosity to continue our activities and raise awareness of the past.

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