 [Suspended Summer 2021] Columbia Summer in Hadrian's Villa: Archaeological Fieldwork

Language of Instruction: English
Term: Summer

Excavate a Roman imperial villa to understand the classical world.

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Columbia’s Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art (APAHA) offers you the unique opportunity to excavate and explore Hadrian's Villa, a UNESCO World Heritage site near Rome. As you learn archaeology techniques, the program encourages you to think critically about how excavation work allows for deeper insight into the social, political, economic, architectural, and artistic history of classical antiquity.

Program Overview

While located in modern Italy, the Hadrian’s Villa program allows you to immediately dive into the ancient world and engage with ancient artifacts. Not only is the Villa a stunning destination not normally traversed by tourists, but also it serves as the setting for the course and program, taking you far from the typical classroom.

Program participants pick axing near formal entrance of Hadrian's Villa

On the program, you will enroll in one course, Hadrian’s Villa: The Archaeology of an Imperial Court, for six credits. The program is aimed at students interested in the history, art, and architecture of the classical world, but welcomes students from all majors. Thanks to the broad scope and size of the project, beginning through advanced students of archaeology can be accommodated to work on various assignments appropriate to their individual backgrounds.

The project is part of the Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art (APAHA), created under the aegis of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America and the Università degli Studi di Roma “La Sapienza” through its Honors Center for Italian Universities (H2CU). It is promoted by the Department of Art History and Archaeology, the Department of History, and the Classical Studies Graduate Program.

Eligibility and Application

  • Currently enrolled undergraduate students in good academic and disciplinary standing
  • Graduate students and post-graduate students are all eligible to apply
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • No previous coursework is required but preference is given to those who can demonstrate interest in the ancient world and/or in the history of architecture

How to apply

Want to apply? Click the “Start Your Application” button above. If the button doesn't appear above, the program is not yet accepting applications. Once you are able to start an application, you will be asked to set up a short profile, which will allow us to send you relevant information about your application. Once you’ve created a profile, you will see a checklist of items that you will need to submit. These generally include:

  • Application questionnaire(s)
    • Personal Statement
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • Official transcript(s)

NOTE: This program includes an interview process for admission.


Note: The University reserves the right to withdraw or modify the courses of instruction or to change the instructors as may become necessary.

All students enroll in the following course:

CLST4200O. Hadrian’s Villa: The Archaeology of an Imperial Court. 6 points.
Prerequisites: Background in the ancient world and/or the history of architecture is preferred but not required.
Instructors: Francesco de Angelis and Marco Maiuro

Central to the program is the combination of the fieldwork and material component with the formulation of new historical questions and scholarly approaches. This combination is intended both to promote familiarity with advanced archaeological techniques, and to suggest avenues about how to employ technical knowledge to think critically about the importance of Hadrian’s Villa in the ancient world.

The project is designed to investigate the ancient life of Hadrian’s villa and to document its reception in modern times. The very exceptionality of the site has often proved to be a hindrance to understanding it on the basis of a systematic comparison with similar cases, such as the imperial buildings on the Palatine in Rome, other imperially owned villas in central Italy, or Roman villas in general. The project aims to contextualize Hadrian’s villa within this broader reference network in order to research the dynamics of the Roman imperial court as it can be gleaned through a holistic approach to evidence, from material findings to literary and epigraphical sources.

Among the main issues the project will investigate is the day-to-day dimension of the villa—the “humble” artifacts found at the site having usually been neglected in favor of the more prestigious sculptures and mosaics—as well as the relationship of this everyday aspect to the ceremonial and official uses of the complex. The post-Hadrianic phases of the villa will also be systematically documented and analyzed for the first time. Finally, the project will focus on the relationship of the villa to its surroundings in the territory of Tivoli.

Note: Students should understand that archaeological fieldwork conducted under the hot summer sun is physically demanding. They must be willing to work under these intense circumstances and also be willing to work collaboratively as part of a team in order to make the program a success.

This course counts towards art history major/concentration at Columbia University as a course in the arts of the ancient worlds, as a seminar, or as an elective.

Academic Schedule

The program includes daily excavations, workshops, seminars and onsite presentations. Students spend eight hours a day, Monday through Friday on site. Students will become acquainted with a wide range of archaeological methods and techniques, and are assigned excavation tasks based on their background and skill level.

Daily excavation is followed by late-afternoon workshops and seminars directed by faculty and guest specialists. This provides the opportunity to discuss key issues, from ceramic analysis to the artistic and socio-historical dimension of Hadrian’s Villa. Additionally, this serves as a time for students to give their onsite presentations.

The program also incorporates Saturday fieldtrips to Rome and nearby areas to explore museums and other historic sites. These excursions help students situate Hadrian’s Villa within the broader context of the residential culture of Roman emperors, and to appreciate its impact on Renaissance architecture.

Because of the intensive nature of the program, students should not plan any weekend travel in advance. Please note that attendance at all components of the program and its related activities is mandatory.


Upon successful completion of the program, grades are entered into Columbia's online grading system.

No credit is granted to students who do not complete the full program.

All courses taken on the program are converted to an American grading scale and transmitted to students as follows:

Columbia students: Grades appear on SSOL and your transcript as semester grades from courses taken at Columbia. For more information, please see the section on Academic Credit in Steps to Study Abroad.

Barnard students: Grades appear on eBear and your transcript as any semester grades from courses taken at Barnard. For more information, please see the section on Credit and Transcripts for Barnard Students on our Barnard student pages.

Non-Columbia students: can request electronic transcripts online through the Columbia University registrar.

Life in Tivoli and Rome


All students live in a hotel near the Hadrian's Villa site. Students stay in shared rooms (doubles or triples). Each room is air-conditioned and has a bathroom.


All meals Monday through Friday are taken as a group and are included in the program. Snacks and weekend meals are the responsibility of the student.

Daily Living and Schedule

This program has a full schedule and students should expect to spend most of their time with the program staff and their peers. In their free time, students are encouraged to explore all Tivoli and Rome have to offer and to travel on the weekends, if they so choose.


Tivoli, Italy is a beautiful, medieval town of ancient origins on top a hill near Hadrian’s Villa. It is a short 15 minute drive from the program hotel, and contains monuments, parks, and restaurants that are accessible to students on the program. The town is just 30 minutes outside of Rome by train.

Based in Tivoli and built by Emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE), Hadrian’s Villa is the most important of Roman imperial villas. It is exceptional both in its size (originally ca. 120 hectares, i.e. twice as large as Pompeii) and for the quality and variety of its structures, which draw on the artistic and architectural heritage of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The site, known since the Renaissance, has yielded hundreds of statues and other precious artifacts, and has inspired generations of architects and artists, from Palladio and Piranesi to Le Corbusier and Richard Meier. Since 1999 it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Francesco de Angelis is the Co-Director of the program. An expert of expert of classical art history and archaeology, his research interests focus on various aspects of Roman, Etruscan, and Greek art and architecture, and particularly the interaction between spaces, images, and social practices; the role of art and monuments in the transmission of cultural memory; the reception of the classical past in modern scholarship. Among his latest publications are a monograph on Greek Myths on Etruscan Urns: The Cinerary Urns from Chiusi (in Italian), and an edited volume on The Spaces of Justice in the Roman World. His current projects include the spatial dynamics of Roman imperial architecture, the reception of state art in the Roman world, Etruscan notions of the body, and the role of antiquarianism in classical antiquity. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, among which a scholarship at the Getty Research Institute, a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Gerry Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award. Since 2011 he has been the co-director of APAHA.

Marco Maiuro is Co-Director of the program. Before coming to Columbia, he studied and worked in Italy, France, Germany, and the UK. His main interests lie in the social and economic history of the ancient world. Both in his research and in his scholarly output he combines theory and evidence. He has published widely on economic, administrative, and archaeological topics from the Archaic period to Late Antiquity. His monograph Res Caesaris (2012) is a comprehensive treatment of the economic role and relevance of imperial estates during the Principate. He is now working on a second book about the scale of the urbanization rate in Italy and its changes from the Roman unification to the Lombards. He is also co-editing Villamagna, a monograph of the British School at Rome on the archaeological project he field-directed in the past, and the Oxford Handbook of Pre-roman Italy. He is the recipient of several fellowships and awards, among which the fellowship at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and a fellowship of the Gerda Henkel – Marie Curie Foundation. Since 2011 he has been the co-director of APAHA.

Daira Nocera is the Field Director for the program. She holds degrees from the University of Pisa and the University of Genova, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate, Art & Archaeology of the Mediterranean World at the University of Pennsylvania. Daira has ten years of experience on archaeological excavations, having served as field school area supervisor at sites such as the Forum of Caesar and the Villa of Maxentius in Rome. She has worked with both American and Italian students, teaching them archaeological stratigraphy, drafting, pottery identification, and data interpretation. Daira's research interests range from the Roman military presence in the East to the architecture and topography of Rome in the early Empire. She recently contributed two pieces to the volume Contesti ceramici dai Fori Imperiali (B.A.R., 2013), which arose from her graduate work in Italy. Moreover, she just published an article on a Byzantine church in Beth Shean, Israel (in Expedition, the magazine of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology). A Kolb Junior Society Fellow, Daira is now conducting dissertation research on the building program carried out by the emperor Domitian.

Financial Considerations

Program Fee Summer 2019: $7000

Tuition and fees are subject to Board of Trustees approval and may change.

Estimated Out-of-Pocket Expenses for Program Duration: $2550
Please note that out-of-pocket expenses are estimates and will vary considerably by student.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you are on financial aid, check to see if it can be applied to studying abroad. In general, summer financial aid is not available to Columbia College or Columbia Engineering students, but may be available to School of General Studies students. Non-Columbia students should check with their home schools for funding availability.

Funding Your Summer at Hadrian's Villa

Eligible students may apply for the following scholarships applicable to this program:

Hadrian's Villa Program Scholarship
The Advanced Program of Ancient History and Art (APAHA) is pleased to announce that scholarships for will be available for students who wish to participate in the Columbia Summer in Italy: Archaeological Fieldwork program. Hadrian's Villa Program Scholarship Applications are due on the same date as the program application.

The Columbia Center for Archaeology website lists potential funding sources, including the Stigler Fund for Archaeological Fieldwork (run by the Dept. of Anthropology).

Jane C. Waldbaum Archaeological Field School Scholarship

For more general information and resources on financing your time abroad, please see the pages below:

Resources for Accepted Students

Fact Sheet

Arts and Architecture, Humanities, Social Sciences
Barnard College, Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, Columbia General Studies, Columbia Graduate Students, Non-Columbia Graduate Students, Non-Columbia Undergraduates
Language of Instruction:

Dates & Deadlines

Application Deadline: 
Friday, March 1, 2019
Admissions Decision Date: 
Friday, March 15, 2019
Program Dates: 
Sunday, May 26, 2019 to Sunday, June 23, 2019
Application Deadline: 
Monday, March 1, 2021
Admissions Decision Date: 
Monday, March 1, 2021