News on the 2020 and 2021 Field Season

We love working at Libarna and believe it has so many stories to tell us about Roman life. We are already planning the 2021 field season which promises to be amazing.  However, we must confront the elephant which is sheltering in place. The 2020 season will not be occurring. The social disruption is too great and the unknowns are too many. This is a major disappointment to us both as researchers and as friends of Serravalle and Arquata. We hope that our Italian colleagues are well. If you want to learn more about them we have earlier blog posts about the rangers and about the community.

However, we also need your help- we started a crowdfunding campaign before the season was delayed and despite the change in global circumstances, we must see it through. We are asking for small donations- just a few dollars to help us reach our goal. Please visit our page to learn more. All funds raised will go to the 2021 season.

Please stay safe and take care of each other. We will have more blog posts soon to entertain you all as we practice social distancing!


Coronavirus Update







Dear All,

After much debate, we have decided that our excavation season will proceed as planned.  The pandemic of Covid 19 is serious and it is especially concerning for us since we are working in Italy. In order to be best informed, we are in daily contact with public health officials, epidemiologists, and doctors. (For example, individuals such as Dr. Michael Friedman, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who also worked for the National Institutes of Health. He also served on the Federal Bioterrisom Response Taskforce after 9/11. Dr. Eleanor Friedman, an epidemiologist who wrote a thesis on the SARS coronavirus and quarantine efforts in Singapore.  We are also getting updates and information from other doctors who are similarly qualified but not related to Nana.)

With all of this information, we have decided not to cancel or delay our plans to begin excavation this summer for a few reasons

  1. All the experts we are in contact with are suggesting we proceed with caution but not panic
  2. As we start excavation in June we have time to further monitor the situation and make informed decisions
  3.  We have connections with the Italian community and we consider each other family. We know no matter what the crisis we would receive excellent support from them if required.

So far there is no reason not to press ahead with our plans. Please know we are taking precautions to ensure the health of our students and staff, which is our utmost concern. We will continue to monitor the situation as it evolves. We will continue to update everyone as we move forward.


Nana, Katie, and the LULP team.


Libarna is a fascinating place! Just like today, back in Roman times, Italy had a great deal of regional cultural diversity. The region where Libarna is located was multiethnic, settled by Romans, Etruscans, and the Liguri, a Gallic tribe.  Our big questions are: what made life in Libarna unique and how can we see this in the archaeological remains? We have demonstrated the archaeological potential of the site with our geophysical research.

We begin excavations this summer and want to bring you along! Get insider information through our newsletter which we send exclusively to our donors, communicate with students and staff, and know that you are supporting new archaeological research.

For as little as $5 you can help support this exciting project and become a member of the extended LULP team! Your donation, small or large, empowers our mission of exploration, education, and community engagement. All funds will be used directly by the project.  Please donate what you can and mention our research on social media.

To donate follow this link

Screenshot_2020-03-03 How did Rome create new cities to build an Empire

Meet our new team members! (Part 1)

So far LULP has mainly been concentrating on non-invasive surveys at Libarna. But this summer that will all change when we open up our first trenches. Archaeology has a number of sub-disciplines, it’s not just wielding pickaxes!  (Though that also requires a lot of skill to be safe. Ask Katie, she will give you a 20-minute lecture on using a pickax as a precision instrument.)

But back to the point, now we will have small finds like coins, faunal evidence like animal bones, and botanical evidence like seeds. Our new specialists will study the material we excavate properly in order to get as much information about the past as possible. So as our project grows in new directions so does our staff. But who are these new faces? In Part 1 we will highlight Osteoarchaeology- which translates from ancient greek as “ancient bone studies.”

Bones are great pieces of evidence for archaeologists. While another organic matter decomposes, bones are more likely to survive in the archaeological record. From them, we can learn what kind of animals people farmed with or ate. Or if we are lucky enough to find a grave we can learn about the humans themselves. For example, let’s use a non-copyright stock image.

person holding up a jaw bone with teeth remains of an animal
Photo by Maël BALLAND on

I am not an Ostearcheologist. So what can I tell you about this bone? Its a jaw of a plant-eater. I am guessing it belonged to a sheep or goat ….maybe. Needless to say, this amount of information is not good enough. (I may do a post on metal objects just so I can show off and recover from this public failure.)  But, this example does show why it was important to add an Osteoarcheologist to the team. A true expert could answer a number of questions. What animal did the jaw bone come from? What was the general health of the animal? Looking at the wear on its teeth what how old was it when it died? Was it used for meat, wool, or milk? All of this information is vital when trying to reconstruct the daily lives of Libarna’s inhabitants.

So meet Chloe

Chloe measuring animal bones in the lab.


Chloe studied at the Univerisity of Sheffield in the UK where she recently graduated with a Master’s of Science in Osteorachaology. She is Australian by birth and she received her BA from the University of Melbourne in Classics and Ancient History. She has participated in digs in Europe and Australia. Also, she recently won a poster competition at the Australian Archaeological Association’s annual meeting.  We are glad to have her with us!

But she is not the only new team member. Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to others! So stay tuned. Also, I am sure when Chloe sees this post she will identify the animal and email me.

Field School Recruitment

Hey everyone! Are you a student looking for a summer project? Or do you know any students who might be interested? We are recruiting right now for summer! Please contact us to learn more. As you can see from our pictures our students have a blast learning about archaeology and Italy all while earning university credits. See our Field School page for more information.