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Archaeology & Anthropology Field Schools

Europe - Spain - Aditu Mortuary Archaeology Field School - 2016

Europe - Spain - Aditu Mortuary Archaeology Field School - 2016

Archaeology Field School Location and Dates

Application Deadline
Start Date 2016-07-06
End Date 2016-08-30

Multiple Sessions 2
Multiple Session information

July 6-30, 2016
August 6-30, 2016

Archaeology Field School Location

Sanctuary of San Miguel in Excelsis (Uharte-Arakil, Navarre, Spain)

Academic Credit

The Field School does not offer credits, but most of our students have been able to get credits from their universities through the certification of the work done with us. We provide documentation and evidence of such work and the high field school standards has helped participants to attain such credit.

Archaeology Field School Tuition

1700 euro

Archaeology Field School Room and Board

Included in tuition fees, shared rooms and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during weekdays, more informal meals during weekends.

Archaeology Field School Travel
Travel costs at the expense of the participant.

Archaeology Field School Description

The Aditu Mortuary Archaeology Field School is a research project investigating human burials at the medieval Sanctuary of San Miguel in Excelsis, at the top of the Aralar mountain in Navarre.

This research is part of a regional study that started with the associated monastic complex of Zamartze in the municipality of Uharte-Arakil (Navarre, Spain). The main element in that site is a 12th century Romanesque church assumed to have been built on top of an earlier Roman mansio. Restoration works to the complex in 2005 revealed medieval graves and Roman structures.

The primary goal of the project is to gain knowledge of the population of this part of Navarre during the medieval period. Graves are thought to date between the 9th and the 14th century, and in the last years, over 150 individual burials have been uncovered. The project aims at using the individuals recovered from this cemetery to perform a thorough study of the diet, pathology and bioprofile (age, sex, stature) of this Medieval sitesí population that could be extrapolated to the region, as little is known in the area about its Medieval population. Additional details of funerary practices may also be gained from the position of the skeletons, burial orientation and grave goods. Stone tombs (as well as later intrusive burials) surrounding the Sanctuary on top of the mountain will be excavated.

A second target in the excavation is to learn about the origin and evolution of the Medieval sanctuary, shroud in legends and mystery, known to date at least from the 8th century AD, the project hypothesizes that the sacrality of the area goes back to pre-Roman times, during the Iron Age, when the different Basque tribal territories were formed.

The field school is aimed at students or graduates of archaeology and physical or forensic anthropology who wish to gain hands-on experience in the excavation of human remains. There will be daily lectures and lab classes on skeletal anatomy, excavation techniques and Basque archaeology, although the major component of the school is field and labwork, with students spending an average of 7-8 hours per day on site divided almost equally beween the excavation of human remains and their processing and analysis in the field lab. Throughout the course, students will become proficient in carrying out all aspects of osteological analysis, including the determination of age, sex, stature and identification of pathologies.

The focus of the fieldwork will be on burial excavation techniques and documentation methods. Students will participate in all stages involved in the exhumation of human remains in archaeological contexts.

Archaeology Field School Additional Information

Archaeology Field School Type

Mortuary, with aspects related to architectonical and other material elements.

Time Period


Field School Setting/Conditions

The Sanctuary of San Miguel in Aralar is a very popular spot, both for religious reasons, as the protector of the Basque Country, and for tourism and nature lovers. Aralar is a natural park, with dramatic landscape and amazing views, but the sanctuary also houses unique art pieces, such as the altarpiece of Aralar, one of the top three Medieval enamel works in the world. Also, Aralar houses the relic of the Holy Angel and a fragment of the pressumed Lignum Crucis (Christ's cross), which attracts visitors all year round.

How is the project area accessed each day

The site is in the sanctuary grounds, which include a public area for visitors, with restrooms, picnic area, etc. It also has a fully licensed restaurant. Although there is no public transportation directly to or from the site, the village where the sanctuary is located has frequent bus and train services to the nearby cities, such as Pamplona or Vitoria.

What is the daily schedule for the field school

Students work Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, with a tea break in the morning and a lunch break at 12:30. Saturdays morning work only. Half of the time is spent in the field and the other half processing and documenting human remains exhumed.

Number of years this Archaeology Field School has been in operation
Is there a professional certification for this field school

The Field School is run with all excavation permits issued by the relevant authorities, which in this case is the Government of Navarre.

Directors and Instructors

Director: Francisco Josť Valle de Tarazaga Montero
The Field School also has a number of instructors that come from Aditu Arkeologia and the world of professional archaeology, frequently cooperating with academic institutions, mostly in the UK.

Specialized skills you will have the opportunity to learn

Structure and planning of an archaeological excavation.
Excavation of human remains.
Processing of human remains (washing, bagging, inventorying).
Introduction to palaeopathology identification.
Archaeological documentation (records).
Archaeological drawing.

On rain days will there be lab work?


Will there be additional organized activities?

No. Free time will be available for participants to do some visits to nearby areas, such as the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Donostia (European Culture Capital 2016), Bilbao (Guggenheim Museum), etc.

Will there be additional organized activities?

A series of lectures are presented during work hours as part of the Field School, on topics such as Excavation of Human Remains, Basque Archaeology, Palaeopathology, Medieval Archaeology, Methodological introduction, etc.

Is travel restriced during free time?

No, but only encouraged at weekends.

Archaeology Field School Contact Information and Website

Field School Website:

Field School Contact Information

Francisco Josť Valle de Tarazaga Montero
Aditu Field School Director

Field School Contact E-mail:
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