Bild från Vulcis arkeologiska park
Bild från Vulcis arkeologiska park
Photo: Robin Iversen Rönnlund

Understanding Urban Identities (UUI) from the Bronze Age to the Roman time. The case of Vulci in the context of southern Etruria

Research project

Short description

The main aim of our project is to enhance our understanding of urban processes in southern Etruria from the Bronze Age until Roman time with a focus on Vulci.
The interdisciplinary expertise of the team (see project members) will allow for a diachronic approach that grasps the dynamic relation between continuity, development, and transformation of the urban population and their identities over time.
A comprehensive research project that will bring together the study of the evidence from the ongoing fieldwork and from previously published fieldwork in the area is under development.

The Vulci fieldwork

During fall 2018, a research program aiming at understanding the early history of the Etruscan settlement of Vulci was initiated at the Department of Historical Studies of the University of Gothenburg in close collaboration with the Vulci Archaeological and Naturalistic Park (Parco Archeologico Naturalistico di Vulci) and the local Heritage Board (Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio per la provincia di Viterbo e per l'Etruria meridionale). The first step of the program was to carry out geophysical surveys (conducted with the expert technical and scientific support of Stephen Kay and Elena Pomar from the British School at Rome). The results of the geophysical surveys have significantly expanded our understanding of the site and helped in the selection of the area for our intended archaeological excavations. The first excavation campaign took place in June 2022, and was successfully accomplished with the much-appreciated contribution of all the students from the AN1076 field-course!

The Vulci fieldwork aims at investigating an area in the eastern part of the plateau between the eastern gate and the so-called acropolis. The area is situated on the edge of the plateau on which the urban area of Vulci is located, overlooking the river valley below, the monumental bridge (Ponte Rotto), with a clear view of the Etruscan necropoleis flanking the river valley.

In June 2023, thanks to the generous support of the Enbom Donationsfond, we could carry the second excavation campaign. This year together with the students of the AN1076 field-course, we also had a much appreciated team of senior students from the 2022 season. We could significantly enlarge the excavation area and uncover the eastern part of a long two-room building. We are not yet able to fully understand the connection between the circular stone platforms uncovered in 2022 and the nearby building, but they seem contemporary and show similar patterns as to the material and the contexts documented in them. We believe that we have uncovered an area where significant cultic activity was taking place prior to the Roman conquest of the Etruscan town of Vulci.

The third excavation campaign will take place in June 2024.

Follow us on Instagram: @uui_gu_vulci 

Archaeological excavations in Vulci
Photo from the 2022 archaeological excavations.
Photo: Kristian Göransson

About Vulci

Vulci (Etruscan Velc/Velc[a]l-, Latin Vulci, Ancient Greek Ólkion) was a large city of ancient Etruria in Italy. The present archaeological site lies by the river Fiora and is close to Montalto di Castro in the Province of Viterbo. Vulci is a unique, stratified urban site that includes Bronze Age, Iron Age, Etruscan, Roman, and Medieval archaeological evidence and is relatively free of modern structures. The Etruscan city occupied an area of over 100 hectares and probably had a large population, as witnessed by the thousands of monumental Etruscan tombs surrounding the site.

Vulci was one of the most prominent and wealthy Etruscan cities from the late seventh through to the early fifth century BCE, deriving its wealth from the production and exchange of valuable goods all over the Mediterranean. Its geopolitical influence declined towards the end of the fourth century BCE, due in part to Roman expansion. The Roman consul Tiberius Coruncanius defeated and triumphed over the inhabitants of Vulci in 280 BCE and it became a Roman municipium (town) in c. 90 BCE. Archaeological evidence indicates Vulci was inhabited until at least the fourth century CE.


Kay, S., Sabatini, S., Pomar, E., Göransson, K. 2021, Revisiting Vulci: New Data from a Geophysical Investigation in the Urban Area. ArcheoSciences 45(1), 83-76.

Sabatini, S., Göransson, K., Gustavsson, A., Kay, S., Pomar, E., Selsvold, I., Webb, L. 2021, History and archaeology at Vulci: old evidence and new data from a geophysical investigation in the urban area. Bollettino di Archeologia Online 3/2021- Anno XII, 5-33.

Sabatini, S., Kay, S., Pomar, E., Göransson, K. 2021 Geophysical Survey Vulci (Comune di Montalto di Castro, Provincia di Viterbo, Regione Lazio). Paper of the British School at Rome 89, 353-357.

Project members 

Serena Sabatini (Researcher and Scientific director), Kristian Göransson (Senior Lecturer), Irene Selsvold (Post-doc), Lewis Webb (Post-doc) och Anna Gustavsson (PhD student).


We are very grateful to the following organisations:
• Helge Ax:son Johnsons Stiftelse
Wilhelm & Martina Lundgrens Vetenskapsfond
• Magnus Bergvalls Stiftelse
Enbom Donationsfond
• Fondazione Famiglia Rausing
• Parco Archeologico Naturalistico di Vulci
• Swedish Institute of Classical Studies in Rome
• British School at Rome
• Soprintendenza Archeologia Belle Arti e Paesaggio per l’Area Metropolitana di Roma, la provincia di Viterbo e per l’Etruria Meridionale
• Department of Historical Studies, University of Gothenburg

The project matured as an independent research program after an earlier collaboration with Duke University and Prof. Maurizio Forte, currently investigating the area of Vulci’s West Forum.