An Archaeological Excavation of a Roman Bath Complex

Allison Smith

Florida State University

This project was funded on:
23 May 2014
Water, water every where, nor any drop to bathe in. The Roman town of Cosa on the western coast of Italy presents an enigmatic bathing complex. The area was neither equipped with an aqueduct nor did the water table allow easy access to fresh water within the confines of the town. As of last summer, an archaeological excavation is currently underway to discover the plan and hydraulics of this puzzling Roman structure.


Budget Overview

The expenses that I am asking your help with involve personal and group costs. Half of the $3000 ($1500) that I am seeking will be used towards my own travel. In order to arrive at Cosa, I must have a round trip plane ticket to Italy, as well as train tickets to and from the airport (Fiumicino: FCO). If I cannot reach Italy, I cannot proceed with my personal research and, as our dig team is small, my absence would slow down progress. Although $1500 may not cover then entire cost of these tickets, any help would be greatly appreciated and $1500 should help with a great majority of these costs.

Once we are in the area of Cosa, we need a rental car to take us and our tools up to and from site every morning and afternoon. Since I am one of the few people who know how to drive a manual car, I am usually the person to drive to site everyday. If the $3000 goal is met, I would use $500 of that money towards helping to lessen the financial burden of renting a car, both renting the vehicle and paying for gas during our time at Cosa.

Another vital use of your help is the hiring of a mechanical crane and workers for one day so that we can remove a large piece of vaulting that remains, dangerously, at the edge of the Laconicum (you can see a 3D model here). If we do not remove this vaulting, however, for health and safety reasons, work cannot continue on this extremely interesting and important area of the bath complex. The price of hiring such a device for one day, which should be all we need to continue working, is $600.

The remaining money, $400, will be used for buying tools and materials that we need while in Italy. Sometimes while digging tools break or you find that you need something different from what you have. In order to facilitate excavation, it would be extremely useful to have a fund for back-up tools and materials, such as shovel, pickaxes, brushes, notebooks, pens, and paper.

Meet the Researcher


I completed my undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009. It was at UNC where I developed an interest in Roman archaeology and architecture. I have worked on archaeological excavations at several sites in Italy, namely a Roman bath house at Carsulae, in Umbria, (2007) and the town of Gabii, near Rome (2009; 2010; 2012). My primary research interests involve architecture of public spaces in Republican and Imperial Italy, particularly baths. I am very interested in the hydraulics of these spaces, specifically water transportation and storage, as well as how the different rooms of a bath complex would have manipulated the water. Human interactions of the bath buildings are also extremely interesting, such as trying to reconstruct use of the space, estimating the number of individuals who could have utilized the structure, and examining what management would have been necessary to run and maintain the baths.

Endorsed by


As her colleague on the Cosa Excavations, I fully endorse Allison's project. She is an incredibly experienced,...See more

Ph.D. Candidate in Classical Archaeology, Florida State University


I had the pleasure of working with Allison at Cosa in 2013, and hope to do so again in 2014! She is a terrific asset...See more

Research Faculty, Indiana University School of Informatics


I am extremely pleased to endorse Allison Smith's project. Exploring, understanding, and explaining a Roman bath at a...See more

Assistant Professor, FSU Classics


In January 2014, a group of graduate students, including myself, won "Best Poster Designed Entirely by Students" at the Archaeological Institute of America's annual meeting in Chicago. You can see it and the other winning poster titles at:
In 2013, our project was featured alongside other archaeological excavations that are run through Florida State University in Across the Spectrum, the magazine of Florida State University's College of Arts and Sciences. The article, titled "Going out and finding it: The impact of FSU's archaeological field sites on research and education in the Department of Classics," discusses our work at Cosa and myself, as well as a few other students involved in the program, were used to illustrate our experiences on the site.

Be sure to keep in contact with Cosa Excavations for updates on publications and news.
Official Site of Cosa Excavations
Cosa Excavations on Facebook
Cosa Excavations on Twitter
To view photos from the 2013 excavations, please visit the Facebook site for a taste of what we've done so far. (And while you're at it, friend us!) OR you can visit my photo stream on Exposure for a few more glimpses into what went on at Cosa: Cosa Excavations on Exposure You can also preview one of the 3D models that has already been made for Cosa's laconicum: Tour the Laconicum! (3D modeling done by Matthew Brennan)

Project Backers

Ryan LowerMarkScholesLizjoneswchan38Oscar JasklowskiJake PfaffenrothArdiMarilynSmithkfeighKatieFinegcaldwelCindy WuwangabaywatchalexirobichauxDenny LuanKyleMcGillThomsonracheldieseldianeboonelkthorneMatthewBrennan