The Mugello Valley Archaeological Project



MVAP has been active in the Mugello, the area north of Florence at the northern edge of Tuscany, since 1995. Its various projects currently involve several US and European universities: Southern Methodist University, Franklin and Marshall College, The University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, Franklin University Switzerland, the Open University (UK) and the University of Florence. The goal of the project is to help investigate and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the region, from prehistory through the Medieval period, and to make that research available to the general public through publication, exhibition, and dissemination.

It is our belief that if archaeology is to survive as a discipline into the next century, it will have to develop a broader base of support and will have to change its image from an elite and esoteric discipline understood by only a chosen few. Archaeological and historical sites are increasingly endangered by pollution, construction, and human pressures that run the gamut from neglect to outright vandalism. We hope that over the years, through our excavations, educational programs, and exhibitions we will train a large number of individuals, some of whom may go on to become professional archaeologists, but most of whom, no matter what their career, will become advocates of the fundamental value of cultural and archaeological preservation.


Twenty-one years of excavation have uncovered an important sanctuary and its surrounding areas of production. Detailed accounts of the excavations can be found at www.poggiocolla.org

The project is co-directed by Prof. Greg Warden (Franklin University Switzerland) and Dr. Michael Thomas (The University of Texas at Austin). Other senior leadership includes Prof. Ann Steiner (Franklin and Marshall University), Director of Research, Prof. Gretchen Meyers (Franklin and Marshall University), Director of Materials, and Jess Galloway, Project Architect. Over three hundred students from seventy  institutions have participated in the excavations.

Some of the finds are now on display at the Museo Archeologico of Dicomano, and a temporary exhibit on cult aspects can be seen at the Museo di Arte Sacra Beato Angelico in Vicchio. The extraordinarily rich finds from the sanctuary include what is possibly the earliest scene of childbirth in European art and an inscribed stele of the 6th century BCE with one of the three longest Etruscan sacred texts found to date (see bibliography).

The research design of the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project and Poggio Colla Field School combined excavation, land survey, and archaeometry as part of an interdisciplinary regional landscape analysis of the Etruscan site of Poggio Colla and the surrounding area.

Mission: The project seeks to contribute significantly to our understanding of Etruscan culture and to educate through a broad and innovative curriculum a new generation of archaeologists in the practice and theory of settlement archaeology. Through timely publication and a broad program of education and outreach the project will explicate and increase awareness of the ethical management of an endangered cultural heritage. A final publication of seven volumes is currently underway.


The Albagino Project is co-directed by Prof. Gregory Warden (Franklin University Switzerland) and Prof. Phil Perkins (The Open University, UK). Dr. Alessandro Nocentini, Architect and Director of Digital Documentation, MVAP, is responsible for recording the archaeological area and will undertake the digital documentation of the excavations.

Our fieldwork had two principal aims in 2018: to investigate the archaeological context of the group of bronze objects found near the dried up lake, and to evaluate the nature of any archaeological deposits in the vicinity of the lake.

Our approach needed to be flexible and to adapt to the results of the investigations as they develop. The first step was to clear the area of undergrowth and expose the subsoil in the area where the initial finds were made, enabling us to identify any surviving archaeological deposits in the area, perhaps providing some indication of the physical processes that led to the exposure of the archaeological material.

At the same time we investigated some of the sub-surface anomalies recorded by the 2017 ground penetrating radar survey in order to establish their nature through targeted excavation.