Archaeological Field School in Pompeii | Mount Allison

The Venus Pompeiana Project: Archaeological Field School at the Sanctuary of Venus in Pompeii

Project overview - May 30th - July 1st, 2022

The Venus Pompeiana Project is a collaboration among the Archaeological Park of Pompeii, Mount Allison University, and the University of Missouri. The aim of this research program is to investigate the Sanctuary of Venus in Pompeii and its architectural and cultural history, with special focus on the pre-Roman phase of the site and the impact that the Roman conquest of Pompeii had on its architectural forms and cultic system.

Pompeii Field School Info Session

Information session for students who are interested in the Archaeological Field School at the Sanctuary of Venus in Pompeii is happening on Tuesday, January 11 at 5-6pm on Teams.

If you want to learn more about this program, join our information session.

***Pre-registration is required.

Find out more

Situated in one of the least known areas of Pompeii, the southwest sector of Regio VIII, the visible structures of this sanctuary feature a podium temple located in the middle of a porticoed courtyard, which develops on two terraces. From past investigations, we know that the sanctuary was in a phase of reconstruction after being damaged by the AD 62 earthquake, a restoration that was never completed, as the dramatic eruption of AD 79 interrupted the building activities undertaken in the area.

The site was first excavated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, following which its earliest remains have been traditionally assigned to the early Roman phase (post-80 BC), while a more recent interpretation dates the establishment of the monumental sanctuary to the second half of the second century BC.

The results of the archaeological excavations conducted in 2004-2007 and some tests carried out by Mount Allison University and the University of Missouri in the summer of 2017 have revealed the existence of architectural structures and votive deposits below the earliest monumental sanctuary dating from the third and second centuries BC, a period known as the Samnite phase of Pompeii.

Following these discoveries, scholars hypothesized the existence of a Samnite cult place dedicated to the Oscan goddess Mefitis, a sanctuary that would have been later rebuilt in the monumental appearance we can admire today when visiting the site.

The cult of Mefitis would thus have been turned into a cult of Venus when Pompeii became a Roman colony in 80 BC. This evidence would be of paramount importance as a contribution to our understanding of “Samnite Pompeii” and its cult places and the impact that the Roman conquest had on the Samnite city and its religious life and established cults.

Developing from this hypothesis, in summer 2017 the Venus Pompeiana Project started a new broad campaign of archaeological excavations the Sanctuary of Venus, with the main goal of illuminating layout and function of the structures that predate the monumental sanctuary, and aspects of continuity or rupture with the later sanctuary of Venus and its cultic forms.

The ultimate goal of this project, in fact, is to increase understanding of the overall urban setting of Pompeii and its genesis, with a special focus on the contribution of the Samnite people to the urban development of the ancient city and the impact that the Roman conquest had on the architectural forms of its main monuments.

Project directors

Ilaria Battiloro (Mount Allison University)
Marcello Mogetta (University of Missouri)

Academic credits

Students will earn six credits through this program. Students will be registered in the following courses:


Course description

Student participants learn about and experience original archaeological research in the field. Preliminary lectures will introduce participants to basic and advanced archaeology field methods, and history and urbanization of Pompeii; special attention will be paid to the temple and the cult of Venus in Pompeii. Participants conduct daily field work, which mostly consists of archaeological excavation.

During the first two weeks, participants learn and use basic archaeological skills including surface measurement, soil reading, unit mapping, testing, and excavation methods. Advanced skills such as site mapping, artifact management and photography are introduced in later weeks. Discussions, lectures, and daily visits to Pompeian sites explore readings and materials.

Course objectives

The main goal of this course is to provide students with a holistic view of methodologies and techniques of modern archaeological research, as well as the main theoretical issues related to this discipline. Another, but no less  important, aim is to familiarize students with the role of archaeological sources (“material culture”) in reconstructing social and cultural history of ancient populations.

Course requirements

  1. Attendance in the field five days a week (7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.)
  2. Attendance in afternoon oral lectures (a detailed schedule will be provided at the beginning of the course)
  3. Attendance in periodic visits to Pompeian sites

Required readings

Methodologies of archaeological excavation

  • Barker, P. Techniques of Archaeological Excavation (1977).
  • Courty, M.A., Goldberg, O. and MacPhail, R. Soils and Micromorphology in Archaeology (1989).
  • Harris, E. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy (2nd ed., 1989).
  • Hodder, I. The Archaeological Process (1999).
  • Lucas, G. Encountering Archaeology (2001).
  • Orton, C.,Tyers, P. and Vince A., Pottery in Archaeology (1993).
  • Orton, C. Sampling in Archaeology (2000).
  • Roskams, S. Excavation (2001).
  • Sutton, M.Q. and Arkush, B.S. Archaeological Laboratory Methods. An Introduction (1998)

Pompeii and the Temple of Venus (Italian bibliography will be summarized and discussed during lectures)

  • Arthur, P. 1986. “Problems of urbanization of Pompeii. Excavations 1980-1981.” AntJ 66: 29-44.
  • Coletti, F., Sterpa, G. 2008. “Resti pavimentali in cementizio, mosaico e sectile dall’area del tempio di Venere a Pompei: i dati di scavo”, in C. Angelelli, F. Rinaldi (a cura di), Atti del XIII colloquio dell’associazione italiana per lo studio e la conservazione del mosaico (Canosa di Puglia, 21-24 febbraio 2007), 129-143. Tivoli.
  • Coletti, F., Prascina, G., Sterpa, G., Witte, N. 2010. “Venus Pompeiana. Scete progettuali e procedimenti tecnici per la realizzazione di un edificio sacro tra tarda repubblica e primo impero.” In S. Camporeale, H.
  • Dessales, A. Pizzo (a cura di), Arqueología de la construcción, 2. Los procesos constructivos en el mundo romano. Italia y provincias orientales. Certosa di Pontignano, Siena, 13-15 de noviembre de 2008, 189-211. Madrid.
  • Curti, E. 2005. “Le aree portuali di Pompei: nuovi dati”. In V. Scarano Ussani (a cura di), Moregine. Suburbio ‘portale di Pompei’, 51-76. Napoli.
  • Curti, E. 2007. “La Venere Fisica trionfante: un nuovo ciclo di iscrizioni dal santuario di Venere a Pompei.” In Il filo e le perle. Studi per il 70 anni di Mario Torelli, 57-71. Venosa.
  • Curti, E. 2008. “Il tempio di Venere Fisica e il porto di Pompei.” In P.G. Guzzo, M.P. Guidobaldi (a cura di), Nuove ricerche archeologiche nell’area vesuviana (scavi 2003-2006), 47-60. Roma.
  • Della Corte, M. 1921. “Venus Pompeiana”, in Ausonia 10: 68-87.
  • Della Valle, G. 1943. “La Venere di Lucrezio e la Venus Phisica Pompeiana.” Rivista IndoGrecoItalica 3-4: 1-23.
  • Fiorentino, G. 2008. “Analisi archeobotaniche  preliminari al Tempio di Venere di Pompei.” In P.G. Guzzo, M.P.  Guidobaldi (a cura di), Nuove ricerche archeologiche nell’area vesuviana (scavi 2003-2006), 527-528. Roma.
  • Iacobelli, I., Pensabene, P. 1995-1996. “La decorazione architettonica del tempio di Venere a Pompei. Contributo allo studio e alla ricostruzione del santuario.” In RSP 7: 45-76.
  • Lanzani, C. 1927. “Sulla Venere Sillana.” Historia 1: 31-55.
  • Lepone, A. 2004. “Venus Fisica Pompeiana.” Siris 5: 159-169.
  • Martucci, C.S. 2012. “Defunzionalizzazione di una cisterna: uno scarico votivo  nel Tempio di Venere a Pompei.” In Per la conoscenza dei Beni culturali, 4. Ricerche del dottorato in metodologie conoscitive per la conservazione e la valorizzazione dei Beni Culturali 2007 -2011, 55-64. Santa Maria Capua Vetere.
  • Mau, A. 1900. “Der Tempel des Venus Pompeiana.” MDAI(R)15: 270-308.
  • Pensabene, P. 1998. “Analisi tecnica e formale dei marmi architettonici della casa di Augusto sul Palatino e del tempio di Venere a Pompei.” InA. Bettini,  B.M.  Giannattasio, L. Quartino (a cura di), Atti della IX Giornata archeologica: archeologia, archeologie, ricerca e metodologie, 55-124. Genova.
  • Schilling, R. 1954. La Religion Romaine de Vénus depuis les Origines jusqu’au Temps d’Auguste. Paris.
  • Sogliano, A. 1899. “Pompei. Relazione degli scavi fatti durante il mese di gennaio 1899.” NotSc, p. 17-24.
  • Sogliano, A. 1900. “Pompei. Relazione degli scavi fatti durante il mese di gennaio 1900.” NotSc, p. 27-31.
  • Wolf, M. 2004. “Tempel un Macht in Pompeji.” In Macht der Architektur – Architektur der Macht, 191-200. Mainz am Rheim.
  • Varriale, I. 2010. “I cicli decorativi di etàtardo-ellenistica dal tempio di Venere a Pompei.” In Atti del X Congresso Internazionale dell’AIPMA (Association Internationale pourla Peinture Murale Antique), 375-386. Naples.

Important dates

Registration date: April 30.

The  Registrar’s Office will register the students who signed to participate in this course.


Course description

The analysis and interpretation of archaeological finds (especially pottery) are at the core of archaeological investigation of ancient sites, as they allow archaeologists to achieve varied goals: establish a time scale, document interconnections between different areas, and suggest what type of activities were carried out at particular sites.

This course provides students with first-hand experience and practice on processing,  analyzing, and interpreting archaeological artifacts.

On the practical side, students will gain skills associated with ceramic examination, including drawing, analyzing, and describing pottery by using standard terminology, working with ceramics databases, and understanding typology and seriation.

On the theoretical side, we will address the main research questions in which pottery’s analysis and interpretation can play a crucial role, as well as the various ways in which ceramic data can be interpreted.

Course requirements

Student performance will be measured in terms of:

  • lab participation and write-up (60%)
  • discussions (20%)
  • final report of the materials analyzed and the processing techniques used (20%)

Required texts

  • Rice, P.M. 2005. Pottery Analysis: A Sourcebook. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  • Sinopoli, C. M. 1991. Approaches to Archaeological Ceramics. Plenum Press, New York.
  • Orton, C., P. Tyers, and V. Vince. 1993. Pottery in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. [also known as PIA].
  • A packet of readings on Pompeian ceramics will be provided on the site.

Important dates

Registration date: April 30.

The Registrar’s Office will register the students who signed to participate in this course.

Goals for student participants

This program is designed to offer students a holistic view of methodologies and techniques of modern archaeological research, as well as the main theoretical issues related to this discipline, through an extended period of experiential learning.

Students will participate in every aspect of excavations from basic digging techniques, to finds processing, artifact analysis, environmental sampling, plan and section drawing, and archaeological photography.

Another, but no less important, aim of this course is to familiarize students with the role of archaeological sources (“material culture”) in reconstructing social and cultural history of ancient populations.

Project size

1-15 participants

Program logistics

The Archaeological Field School in Pompeii takes place over five weeks during May and June.

Eligibility requirements

There are no prerequisites for the field school, and students from any discipline will be considered for the program. Nonetheless, coursework in a relevant area is desirable, and selection will be based on the merit of the student's application and the relevance of their coursework and academic training to the archaeological field school.

Students must have a valid passport with at least six (6) months remaining after the end of the Field School in Pompeii.

Application requirements

» A completed Archaeological Field School Application Form

Application deadline: January 14, 2022

If you are a non-MtA student and have been conditionally accepted to the program, you are required to do the following:

  • complete a visiting student application for Mount Allison University
  • fill out a Letter of Permission through your home university and then submit a copy of your transfer credit evaluation form to provide proof of transfer credits toward your degree


The cost for the program includes:

  • course tuition (see the Mount Allison University Registrar 's Office for details)
  • a participation fee
  • a $125 Study Abroad and Exchange fee

The participation fee is $2,800 (CDN), which includes accommodation in hotel, breakfast (7 days per week), lunch (5 days per week), dinner (5 days per week), insurance (, and program and equipment costs for the field school. This fee is exclusive of airfare and tuition for the credit courses. Subject to change.

Confirmation policy

Students accepted for the program are required to confirm their acceptance by the end of (date TBA).

Students confirm by paying a $500 non-refundable confirmation deposit. The remainder of the program fees must be paid by (date TBA).

Funding opportunites

For funding opportunities, visit funding for student activities.

Interested students should contact Dr. Ilaria Battiloro ( for further information.