The High School field crew at the Medieval Castle of Zorita will excavate and research a 9th-century fortress built by Moorish invaders that was later occupied by Christian knights and Jewish Spaniards.
We are the first archaeological team to excavate a cemetery where knights were buried, in addition to the Jewish quarter just outside the northern walls.
Field school students will learn surveying, excavation techniques, mapping, photography, keeping a dig diary, and artifact recovery, conservation, and drawing. We will also hold seminars and workshops on Spanish history, architecture, and archaeology.
This program is designed for students 15 to 17 years old. Our main objective is to prepare you as future archaeologists. This coming campaign will set the groundwork for future campaigns and we will be working in two areas:
1. The open space to the south of the Romanesque chapel. There are several knights’ sarcophagi lining the southern wall of chapel, which suggests that this area was used as a cemetery.
2. The area outside the castle walls to the north which documents from the 12th and 13th centuries designate as the Jewish quarter.
Students will experience both theoretical and hands-on archaeology. In the mornings we will be on site, learning excavation methodology, working with tools and technical instruments, and extracting artifacts. You’ll analyze the clues like a detective, recording everything with photos, sketches, and a fieldwork notebook. You will also learn to draw archaeological maps and take biological samples such as pollen, seeds, and plant remains.
In the afternoons we will wash and classify the pottery, bones, and other artifacts found on site. Some afternoons we will hold seminars on Spanish history, on drawing pottery shards, and on how archaeologists use aerial photography to spot ancient remains.
Other afternoons we will explore the castle that is literally our backyard, or we will go on archaeological surveys to learn how archaeologists decide where to dig and why. Weekends will be spent visiting several Roman and Medieval sites of interest in the area, including a day-trip to World Heritage Site Toledo.
Everything will be overseen by project directors Dr. Dionisio Urbina and Catalina Urquijo. The husband-and-wife team have around 45 years of combined archaeological experience, in addition to running a field school in Toledo from 1998 to 2005.
Students are expected to engage in all archaeological activities during the program, and while we do not require that participants speak Spanish, they will be immersed in the language daily. Thus we hope that you take advantage of this situation to learn some basics or improve your spoken Spanish. Just imagine, you will leave the program knowing how to say “pass me that trowel” in Spanish.
The work, due to the summer heat and the physical nature of the excavation, will be demanding. Those that wish to join should be in reasonable physical condition and in good health.