The Crossroads Landscape and Cityscape of Ancient Rome Summer 2018 course is an intensive 4.5-week, 4 credit course in Italy.

  • Students will study the ancient city of Rome and its supporting landscape, both through the lens of ancient literary accounts and directly through field trips to major archeological sites and museums.
  • Students will also actively participate in archeological excavation at the Roman coastal settlement of Poggio del Molino at the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park in Tuscany. This archeological park and nature preserve is an open laboratory for the study of environmental issues relating to ancient mineral mining, metallurgy and trade.
  • This Crossroads course is administered in collaboration with the IES Abroad Rome Center.  IES Abroad, a US-based study abroad provider founded in 1950, will provide administrative support for the program.

Program Dates:

  • May 21-June 22, 2018


  • Central Rome and the Populonia and Baratti Archeological Park, Italy

Program Itinerary*:

  • May 21: Depart from Seattle
  • May 22: Arrival in Rome. (Fiumicino Airport)
  • May 23: Orientation. Guided city walking tour. Welcome reception and dinner.
  • May 24 to June 12: Intensive study of Rome and environs. Day trips to Hadrian’s Villa (bus), and Pompeii (bus)
  • June 13: Departure for Baratti
  • June 14 to 20: Archeological study at the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park.
  • June 21: Return from Baratti to Rome
  • June 22: Departure from Rome (Fiumicino Airport)
Course Title: CLAS 319 Landscape and Cityscape of Ancient Rome
Cross Listed as: ENVS 319 and AHVS 226
Credits: Four (4) credits
Counts as:

Major Credit:
   Environmental Studies
   Art History and Visual Culture Studies

Distribution Credit:

Prerequisite: None

Course Description:

  • Despite Rome being one of the greatest cities in the ancient world, its identity was fundamentally rooted in its natural landscape. In this course we will explore how the realms of urban, rural, and wild were articulated in Roman culture, conceptually and materially. We will investigate both how the Romans conceived of the relationship between the built environment of urban space and the natural environment that supported and surrounded it and how they dealt with the environmental problems of urban life.
  • In this intensive 4.5-week course, students will study the ancient city of Rome and its supporting landscape, both through the lens of ancient literary accounts and directly through excursion to major archeological sites and museums. Excursion sites will likely include:
    • Colosseum
    • Pantheon
    • Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
    • Trajan’s Market and the Imperial Fora
    • Nero’s Domus Aurea
    • Baths of Diocletian
    • Capitoline Museum
    • Ara Pacis Museum
    • Vatican Museum
    • Park of the Aqueducts
    • Villa of Livia at Prima Porta
    • Hadrian’s Villa
    • Pompeii
  • At the end of the course, students will also spend one week actively participating in archeological excavation at the Roman coastal settlement of Poggio del Molino on the coast of Tuscany.

The major objectives of this course are:

  • to provide an introduction to major topography of the ancient city of Rome, its infrastructure, design and art
  • to explore the environmental relations of the city to its landscapes
  • to read major literary accounts of mythical, historical, political and ritual events of the city and reconstruct the Roman “memoryscape”
  • to learn techniques to critically analyze ancient remains
  • to develop an understanding of archeological techniques, including statigraphic excavation techniques, archeological documentation methods, and principles of analysis of walls as well as the study of ancient pottery, mobile artifacts, and human bones
  • to develop intercultural competence through interaction with the spaces of an ancient culture and through interaction with the scholars the study these spaces 

Course Organization:

  • This is an intensive, 4.5 week-long course.  Typically there will be 1-2 hours of lecture each day and 3-5 hours of field trips to major archaeological sites and museums 5 or 6 days per week. The first 3.5 weeks will be conducted in Rome, with an excursion to Pompeii. The final week of study will be held at the Baratti and Populonia Archeological Park.


  • Students will read texts covering the history, cultural significance and archeological features of the sites. There will be group discussions and quizzes over assigned materials. Students will maintain detailed site notebooks for assigned sites and monuments. Students will prepare an oral presentation and written paper relating to a site.

Pre-course Orientation:

  • Prof. Shea will hold 3 or 4 mandatory one-hour meetings with students during the Spring semester. She will introduce the students to historical period that we will be studying and will provide advice for preparing for our time in Italy. She will give basic information about cultural norms and language that will help students navigate Italy’s vibrant culture.

Professor Kate Shea, Assistant Professor of Classics and Environmental Humanities will be the leading instructor. Classical Greek and Roman poetry is her area of specialty. She focuses her research on cityscapes and landscapes in ancient Roman literature.

Dr. Carolina Megale is a Classical Archaeologist, Coordinator of Archeodig Project and Principal Investigator of the archaeological excavation of the Roman Villa of Poggio del Molino at Populonia.

IES Abroad will also provide local guides and guest lecturers while the group is in Rome.

In Rome: Students will live in apartments centrally located in Rome within walking distance of the IES Center where classes are held. Four to six students will share each apartment. Apartments will have kitchen, bathroom, and laundry facilities and a fan in each bedroom.

In Baratti: Students will live in apartments located about 3.2 miles away from the research site. Two to three students will share an apartment with kitchen facilities. Transportation between the housing and the archeological site will be provided by the program.

Meals: Students will be responsible for their own food shopping, cooking and clean up. This will allow students to explore Italy’s fantastic food culture.  Cost of meals will vary depending on the student’s own habits and tastes. Students should budget at least $1000 out of pocket costs for their groceries and meals. A group meal featuring local Italian cuisine will be provided in Rome.


Landscape and Cityscape of Ancient Rome welcomes applications from all Whitman undergrad students who:

  • are in good academic standing
  • will be a continuing student in Summer 2018 (May 2018 graduates are ineligible)

No Prerequisites:

  • This is an introductory intensive course. There are no pre-requisites for this course and a previous background in ancient Roman culture or environmental studies is NOT required. All class levels, including freshman, are encouraged to apply.

How to apply:

  • To apply to this program you will need to submit a Crossroads Rome Application including the names of two faculty references to Off-Campus Studies (Mem. 205) by the stated deadline.


  • Monday, November 27, 2017

Group size:

  • Space is limited to 16 students


  • Applicants will be interviewed by the Faculty Director and an Off-Campus Studies staff member as part of the selection process after the application deadline.

Program Fees:

The program fee for Landscape and Cityscape of Ancient Rome is $3,800. The program fee covers the following:

  • Tuition for 4-credit course and course materials
  • Housing accommodations
  • International Medical insurance
  • Group travel within Italy, course field trips, and program excursions
  • Pre-departure meetings and in-country orientation in Italy
  • Local and expert support

The program fee does not cover international airfare to and from Italy, meals, passport fees, U.S. medical insurance, or incidental expenses such as laundry, stationery items, souvenirs, entertainment or independent travel.

  • International airfare is estimated at $1,400 - $1,700.  A group flight option will be available. 
  • Meals are estimated at $1,000.
  • Total Estimated Cost: $6,500 (includes program fees, airfare estimate , and meals estimate).

Enrollment Deposit:

  • Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $500 no later than January 17, 2018.

Scholarships and Financial Aid:

  • Students with financial need are strongly encouraged to apply for funding.  A substantial amount of need-based scholarship assistance is available through Whitman Crossroads funding.  Both partial and full scholarships may be awarded.
  • Students will be notified of their aid awards in their admission notification letter.