Students take part in Spanish excavation

Fifteen archaeology students from the School are taking part in a three-week dig in Spain at a Roman garrison of the late Roman Republic. (Published 31 July, 2017)

HCA archaeology students

Supervised by Manuel Fernandez-Gotz and Xavier Rubio-Campillo, most of the students are undertaking their first archaeological excavation at the site of Puig Ciutat (Oristà, Catalonia). Situated around 100 km North of Barcelona, there is evidence of occupation at the site starting during the Bronze Age but its most important period was the Late Roman Republic where it served as a military garrison. During the Civil War between Julius Caesar and Pompey the site was assaulted and completely destroyed probably in relation with Caesar's campaign in 49BC.

Excavations began at the site in 2010 as an interdisciplinary project to test the application of new technologies in conflict archaeology such as geophysical surveying, digital recording, photogrammetry and Geograhical Information Systems. Already this has identified evidence of the Civil War assault including the defensive wall, pila or javelins, slingshots, coins and the multiple origins of a vicious fire that wiped out the entire site immediately after the battle.

‘The Puig Ciutat project is pioneering the application of a broad range of new technologies on the study of the past,’ said Xavier Rubio-Campillo, Lecturer in Archaeology. ‘I have been involved in the project since its beginnings and we thought that it would be the perfect training field for archaeology students. They would be excavating on an exciting archaeological site while getting the chance of practicing with innovative methods such as geophysics, metal detectors and a robotic total station. They are working hard and learning a lot during this campaign as they are digging side by side with an expert international team of archaeologists.’

Lead slingshot found inside one of the buildings being excavated by HCA students.

The 2017 campaign will be the first one involving UoE students and its goals are focused on finding the perimeter of the defensive system and learning more about the assault.

First year undergraduate student Josh Blackstock said, ‘I am really enjoying working at the Puig Ciutat site. So far we have found various artefacts, including pottery, coins and iron objects. The team have been great and we have learnt many skills involved in excavation. On top of the fieldwork we have been given lectures and laboratory work which have all been interesting.’

You can find more about the site at

Dr Manuel Fernández-Götz's staff profile

Dr Xavier Rubio-Campillo's staff profile