The dynamics of urban transformations in Italy across the first millennium BCE is one of the most interesting research topics in classical archaeology because it concerns the emergence of complex societies in the Iron Age (early 1st millennium BCE), their evolution into city-states (the Etruscan and a few other pre-Roman societies), and finally, their transformation into Roman settlements. The urban changes of the Etruscan city to the Roman presumably involved radical political and social changes, but the first years of Duke’s excavation support the idea that this transformation was a slow process, with extensive reuse of architectural material and large overlapping of buildings’ foundations.

In the past, there were many small-scale projects in the area, but it is time to promote systematic scientific work on the previously collected data and on current material from the ongoing excavations. We propose a series of scientific analyses on the archaeological material from both the older and the present excavations (e.g., spatial, geophysical, geochemical, macrofossil, pollen, statistical). Further, we plan a reconstruction of the physical, environmental, cultural and historical urban evolution of Vulci through time to provide an excellent case in point for further studies on the subject in other neighboring areas, giving the opportunity to remodel our understanding of the crucial centuries that brought the end of proto-history (IX cent. BCE), the Etruscan urbanism (VIII-IV cent. BCE) and finally, the Roman occupation. 

In the last 150 years of archaeological investigations in Vulci, Duke University is the first research institution authorized to dig the urban area stratigraphically and extensively by scientific methods and cutting-edge technologies (multispectral drones, 3D real time data capturing, rover-robots, geophysical prospections). Vulci is the ideal case study because the site is preserved by a public archaeological park (200 hectares; the Vulci Archaeological Park) with no modern infrastructures and with total archaeological visibility.

The project features a collaboration between Duke University, the University of Gothenburg (Sweden, Dept. of Historical Studies), and the HERCULES lab of the University of Evora (Portugal).