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General Information

The Aguntum Summer School - Archaeological Field School offers students of classical and ancient study programmes to participate in the excavation of the Roman town of Aguntum, in courses on the history of the Eastern Alps as well as to join excursions to the most exciting find spots in the region.

The practical work at the excavation site includes the uncovering, description and measurement of archaeological findings, their recovery and initial careful cleaning as well as the further processing and interpretation of the materials and findings. Accompanying courses on the current discourse in field archaeological methods as well as on the broader historical framework of the excavation site in Roman and late ancient times (1st to 6th centuries AD) are offered.



The Roman town of Aguntum has been known of since the early 20th century and there have been excavations there since 1912. Since 1991, the Department of Archaeologies at the University of Innsbruck has headed the excavations. As of 2021 the Summer School Aguntum is offered in addition.



Duration: 3 weeks
Dates: July 17th to August 5th 2023
Cycle: annual
Registration deadline: April, 10th 2023
Minimum age: 21 years
Max. number of participants for 2023: 8 persons
Language: English
ECTS-Credits: 6 (University of Innsbruck)
Requirements for participating: interest in archaeological field work and physical resilience
Cost: EUR 2,400


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The Excavation Site and the Excavation Project

The Municipium Claudium Aguntum received its town charter under Emperor Claudius. So far, the first traces of settlement in the town area being investigated date back to the beginning of the 1st century AD. In the context of receiving town ordinances and privileges, the town centre is further developed (forum, thermae) and a town wall is built. So far, however, there is only proof of it on the east side of the town and it appears to have been predominantly representative. The strong connection between the Roman Aguntum and the Mediterranean area is evident from the buildings known so far. In addition to the thermae, which can be traced back to Campanian examples, an atrium house based on Mediterranean models was also built in the 1st century AD. Since this type of construction had only limited suitability for the harsh climate of the Alpine area, first adaptations already took place one generation after its construction and more and more rooms in the building were equipped with heating. The geographical and economic proximity of Aguntum to the Mediterranean area is evident not only in the architecture, such as the circular macellum, but also in finds from the 1st century to late Antiquity which include many Mediterranean imports.

Alpine routes from the South to the North and the East to the West cross in Aguntum. Alpine resources such as mountain crystals were the basis of the town’s economy. During the excavations over the last few years, hundreds of rock crystals were found on the area of the forum, which prove the trade with this material. This raw material comes from the wider area of the town and after sorting and rough processing it was then used for trading.

Up until the 2nd century AD, the town achieved a certain level of prosperity, which was reflected in the brisk construction activity on the settlement area. After a major fire in the 3rd century AD, which according to the current state of knowledge cannot be associated with an act of war, a phase of change begins. The public buildings increasingly lose their function and are converted into living spaces and workshops. At the same time, especially in the 4th century, numerous renovations in private buildings were carried out, and with the construction of an extra muros church – a church outside of the town walls - at the same time, the strong influence of the Christian religion is now tangible. Aguntum remained a town until the 5th century AD at least, but it lost its importance. In the written tradition, Aguntum played an important role for the last time in 610 AD, when a decisive battle between Baiuwarii and Slavs for supremacy in the region is said to have taken place in the area around the town.

The ongoing excavations focus on the trade and administrative centre of the town. With our work in the trading forum and the adjoining administrative buildings, we hope to obtain further information on the economic basis of the imperial town, as well as on the transformation process of the settlement which started immediately after the fire

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Summer School Aguntum – Archaeological Field School


The Field School is divided into a theoretical and a practical part.

Theory (Lectures, Excursions, Practical Courses):

  • History and archaeology of Aguntum and the Eastern Alps in Roman Time and Late Antiquity
  • Archaeological methods: excavation methods, stratigraphy and surveying technology (drawing, tachymetry, photogrammetry, SfM 3D)
  • Conservation and restoration (buildings and small finds)
  • Dating and interpretation of Roman finds (main focus: ceramics)


  • Archaeological excavation
  • Archaeological documentation (description of findings, stratigraphy, photography, surveying and mapping)
  • Processing of discovered material (salvage, cleaning, documentation)
  • Taking of sample materials for different questions (geoarchaeology, archaeobotany, scientific dating methods …)
  • Creation of an excavation report for the processed area

The Field School will work in the area of the trader forum. The participants will carry out all excavation and documentation steps in their excavation area under professional guidance.


You will have to organise your own journey to get there. On site a transfer from the nearest-located town of Lienz to Aguntum (alternatively from Innsbruck to Aguntum) can be provided.

During the first week, the focus lies on the theoretical part of the training. From the second week onwards, the Field School focuses on working in the field and with the material found. Towards the end of the fourth week, the final report (findings plans, drawings of finds, photos) is created.

Excursions take place during the first week and on the remaining Saturdays. Sundays are free.

The participants have to make their own meals according to their personal preferences. As a rule, cooking takes place in the Aguntum excavation house, but there is an alternative option to eat in the restaurant on the excavation site. Depending on the weather, BBQ nights are organised.

Programme (Mon-Fri):

7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Work in the field (in week 1: lectures and practical exercises in the field)

9:00 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.


9:10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Work in the field (in week 1: lectures and practical exercises in the field)

12:00 p.m. - 12:45 p.m

Lunch break

12:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m

Work in the field / work with the material found (in week 4: final report)

3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m


3:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Work in the field / work with the material found (in week 4: final report)


Directly on the excavation site is the “Aguntum excavation house”. There are 4- to 8-bed rooms in the house. Kitchen and bathrooms are used together. There is also a washing machine. Free WiFi is available. It is possible to stay in these rooms for the entire duration of the summer school at a cost of €200. Should participants prefer a different type of accommodation, we are happy to help to find a suitable offer.

The excavation house is within walking distance of different food stores and restaurants. The town of Lienz is 3.5 kilometres from the site and can be reached by public transport. The use of the Aguntum excavation house is limited to the time of the Summer School and can be accessed a maximum of two days before and two days after the end of the Summer School.


All participants should be equipped with field work clothes for very hot (up to 35°C) as well as for cold, rainy days (head wear, long-sleeved work clothes, rain protection). In addition, it is obligatory in Austria to wear safety shoes during excavations. The participants will have to obtain these themselves, but they are also available from a specialist shop on site.

All further equipment and tools are provided. 

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