Archaeology Field School: PETRA & SHAWBAK

CLA 323-324 F - Dual Listed: HIS 323-324 F


(Project of the chair of Medieval Archaeology of the University of Florence, Italy)




The offical dates for the next campaign are on hold due to security assessment procedures


Director of Mission:
Prof. Guido Vannini (University of Florence)

Co-director and teacher:
Dr. Michele Nucciotti (University of Florence, CAMNES)


The Medieval archaeology field School of Petra and Shawbak (Jordan, Ma’an) is a four-week intensive course in medieval Near Eastern Archaeology. Petra offers a unique occasion to explore the transition between Classical and Medieval world. The focus of the 2014 field school is the transformation of Ayyubid’s Shawbak Crusader palace into the new royal palace of Saladin’s family.

The program combines on-site lectures and fieldwork in Shawbak (the Crusader capital castle of Transjordan, once named Mont Real,) and in Petra (the Crusader castles of Al-Habis and Al-Wu’aira). The field school includes excavation, artifact analyses, stratigraphic building archaeology, landscape and architectural survey, restoration, tourist master planning and 2D/3D virtual modeling. 

The course is conducted by an expert team of English speaking archaeologists, restorers, architectural historians, territorial and static engineers, computer scientists and geologists. Lessons and activities include excavation methods, “light archaeology”, archaeological dataset management, and post-excavation artifacts processing.

The program provides knowledge of archaeological techniques in the ongoing “light archaeology” research on Crusader-Ayyubid and Mamluk, two medieval settlements in southern Jordan. Students learn about the artifacts and architecture of the historic frontier between Mediterranean and Arabia. They also study settlement dynamics from the Middle Ages, such as Mediterranean exchanges of goods, ideas, and architectural models. Governing practices and territorial exploitation are also covered, with specific reference to Crusader-Ayyubid relationships in the age of Saladin (AD 1171 - 1189) and to Syrian/Egyptian confrontation in the period of Ayyubid-Mamluk (AD 1189 - 1350).

The field school includes weekly visits to the major archaeological sites and museums of the region and gives the possibility to interact with students from Jordan and Italy.

The field school is based at the Shawbak site, located 25 kms north of Petra, in the fertile stripe between the rift valley of Wadi ‘Arabah and the eastern desert. Accommodation and post-excavation premises will be available both in Shawbak and/or in Petra (University of Florence dig house and field lab).

The Medieval Petra Project was created in 1986 by the University of Florence, in collaboration with the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the European Union. As of today, the Medieval Petra Project is the longest operated international archaeological mission in Petra and it plays a key role in the contemporary scientific re-interpretation of the Middle Ages in the Mediterranean area.

For further details please view the separate BROCHURE in the DOWNLOAD section on the right

For the field school FEES and ENROLLMENT please contact us at

A view of the crusader fortification of Shawbak

A student excavating one of the rooms of the fortification of Shawbak