Monte Testaccio

What a Pile of...Sherds?!!

It is often said that archaeology is nothing more than the digging up of ancient people’s trash. The site of Monte Testaccio in the Testaccio neighborhood of Rome, however, takes this idea to an entirely new level. The entire 135-foot-high mound, now covered with grass and trees, is made up of discarded amphora sherds from the first to fourth centuries A.D. The tens of thousands of amphorae represented by the massive pile of sherds originally held olive oil that had been shipped from the Roman provinces to the capital.

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All of this ceramic “trash,” however, is actually quite useful for reconstructing ancient Roman economy and commerce. Many of the amphorae were marked with the seals of the olive oil distributors, as well as the names of the exporter and the contents of the vessel. Such information can help archaeologists and historians better understand the nature of commerce and exchange in the Roman Empire.

José M. Blazquez

Jose BlazquezJosé M. Blazquez is professor emeritus of Universidad Complutense de Madrid and a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. He is an expert in the pre-Roman and Roman history of Hispania and has published extensively on both subjects.

José Remesal Rodríguez

Jose RodriguezJosé Remesal Rodríguez is a professor of ancient history at the University of Barcelona. He is an expert in the social and economic history of the Roman Empire and has focused much of his work on studying the production and commerce of food in the ancient world.

Dig Directors

José M. Blazquez
José Remesal Rodríguez

Geographic Location

Rome (Italy)

Periods of Occupation


Dates of the Dig

September 2016

Minimum Stay

Two weeks

Application Due

May 1, 2016



Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Yes - Academic credit is available in coordination with participant’s school


Participants will stay in double rooms in a nearby apartment and will eat meals at local restaurants.


Mike Elkin
5 Ironwood Lane
West Hartford, Connecticut CT 06117
Phone: +1-866-932-0003

Open for tours

Yes - by appointment