Field School Review – Sanisera

Sanisera Field School, Spain. Ecomuseo de Cavalleria

By Ben

When: 3 week sessions from April to November

“If you like ____, you’ll love this field school”: Maritime Archaeology, Osteoarchaeology, Bio-Archaeology, Roman Archaeology, and G.I.S. Survey,

Cost: What is included in the cost of the field school ranges from which program you register for. The all general accommodations are food, room and board, and transportation to the site and back to student housing.

There are extra costs for different programs. For example the Maritime Archaeology program is more expensive than the Roman Necropolis or Roman City programs because the Maritime program covers refilling air tanks. They also have programs were you spend half your time excavating the Roman site in Sanisera and then traveling to another country like Italy, Portugal, Croatia, and Greece and gain field experience with one of the partner groups that the Sanisera Field School is associated with.

Living conditions: Student housing is comprised of male and female apartments, which have shared bedrooms, communal bathrooms and showers. When registrations are at their highest during the summer months sometimes apartments become co-ed. The male residence is also the mess hall for all the students. Students are given three square meals a day with dinner being optional by signing a dinner list. The food is usually local cuisine.

The bathrooms are very functional and are cleaned daily. The showers do have a very small supply of hot water but it is not a necessity given the hot temperatures during the summer months. There is wireless internet available at both apartment complexes. The male and female residences are in separate buildings and are reachable by a 10 minute walk through the town center.

Students usually work a 5 day work week with the 6th being half a day involving an excursion to one of the archaeological sites or museums located on the island of Menorca and the 7th being a rest day. The 5 day work week consists of getting up at 5 a.m, arriving at the site by 7 and working until 10.30. Then it’s lab work until lunch. After lunch students have the rest of the day off to explore the island.

The Team: There’s the Director Fernando then a staff member for each of the programs offered. During the summer months the field school usually help about 29 students. The students were very diverse in both age and experience from 17 to 50 years in age and from first year of undergraduate school to Phd student.

Culture: We took one excursion during the 20 day program to an archaeological site or museum on the island. Activities to do while not working ranged greatly from going to the beach or hiking to horse back riding and scuba diving. The local population were very kind and generous and there are a few bars and restaurants that were student favourites. The biggest culture shock I received was how easy going and laid back both the locals and even the staff members. Because the field school runs from April to November there wasn’t that urgency you usually have to deal with when out on an archaeological expedition.

Best Thing: The diversity of the programs that are offered. They are really only able to do this because of the long periods of excavation they are able to perform where other field schools are not able to do the same thing. This is a great field school for one who has absolutely no experience in the field and wants to see what it’s like.


Worst Thing: It’s slightly too cushy. Even though I had a wonderful time in Menorca I felt the entire time that it was half field school and half resort like. You lose two whole hours going to and from the site. Students are not really given enough lab work time for it to really sink in.

Where to go for more information and applications:


14 thoughts on “Field School Review – Sanisera

  1. Hello Ben,
    Thank you for you report. We really hope you enjoyed your experience in our school. As you know, we offer the opportunity to participate in a real archaeology project to everyone interested in this field. However, if you are interested in more specific and intensive programs, we also have some deep courses in our list 😉
    About the time spent to go to the site, you know that it is located far from any other big city. We prefer to have the residence in Ciutadella, since students can also enjoy their free time in the beaches and the beautiful streets on the old town.
    Please, contact me with any questions you have:
    Thank you again.
    Best regards

    • Hi Cesar,
      Great to hear from you and thanks so much for clarifying some things about Sanisera, it sounds like a really well set up school with some great opportunities.
      Ben was a guest poster for me, so he probably won’t see your comments, but from what I’ve heard he had a great time at Sanisera and has gone on to excavate all over the world.

    • Re the Sanisera residence location and schedule: .Ben’s point, made in 2014, about the focus-damaging effect of long daily travel from Ciutadella to the site and back still has force today, and Cesar’s reply is weak. This journey, besides being tedious, dictates the pattern of the day, from the rush to breakfast at 6:30 a.m., to the scramble onto the minibus at 7:00 a.m., to the return to residence in the early afternoon in time for dinner, the last meal offered, at 3:15 p.m; clearly a housekeeping convenience. There is a nice, good-sized town by Menorcan standards that would correct the deficiencies mentioned by Ben: es Mercadal. The sa Nitja excavation is about 10k N. ; the pleasant coastal village of Fornells the same, with the best seafood on the Island; the best beaches in Menorca, the same: to North: Platges de Cavalleria, Cala Pregonda, Cala Pilar, Cala d’Algaiarens (a bit further); to South: Cala Galdana environs, Platja de Binigaus, Platges de Son Bou. These can be reached with creative use of the public transport companies operating in summer, and some great walking on the Cami de Cavalls. Or (now here’s an idea), some minibus shuttling courtesy of the idle Sanisera vehicles. Or shared taxi. My qualifications: while the Director of Sanisera in 1967 was on the mainland lying in swaddling clothes I was partying on Menorca to celebrate my Classics B.A.
      There is an alternative on Menorca to Sanisera that students should check out (look for the video): The Sa Cudia Cremada Field School, conducted on the edge of Mahon, the capital, with accommodation in the city, by three super-committed crowd-funded young women, at a very promising Iron Age site, newly opened. One woman, Cristina Bravo Asensio, used to work at Sanisera as the Director’s translator and creator of English copy, under the Director’s name, of course. She has an M.A. in English philology (language); and an M.A. in Archaeology from a Scottish university.

  2. Hello! I am happy to read this. I will be attending the field school in osteology in October 2015. I wanted to verify the credentials of the school before sending money. Also, I am glad that there is wi-fi available because I will be doing my homework while I am there. I look forward to this experience!

    • Hi, I am also considering a Sanisera field school, but I want real student testimonials to ensure the validity of the program. How was your experience? Was it worthwhile? Please let me know!

      • I didn’t get the opportunity to go. I will be rescheduling for this year. Life got in the way. I have talked with another person who has been there and gave me great tips that I can send your way!

    • Hello! I am planning to attend the Sanisera archaeological field school in August this year. Can you tell me, what was your experience like? I, too, am wanting to verify the credentials before sending money. Thank you! 🙂

  3. May I ask what “awaiting moderation” means? It has been three hours. Is it a routine step to screen out obscenity or only invoked when a review is negative? I hope not the latter, since this smacks of censorship and massaging results–which would be a great disservice to student readers. Thank you.

    • It means it was the middle of the night where I am when you wrote your comment. All comments are moderated.
      I have no affiliation with sanisera. This is my personal blog that has been more or less dormant for a few years. You obviously have a lot of feelings about their field school. Maybe try to focus them on your court case more.

      • I appreciate the posting. I was not implying Sanisera affiliation. My feelings are in good order, thank you. But this is more about facts.

  4. Let the buyer beware. Sanisera is a shady operation. The school does not co-operate with local authorities in Spain and has a poor reputation. It is unaccredited. It is unaccountable. There is a lot less to it than meets the eye on the website. The dive operation is potentially dangerous, involving 2 k surface swims in full gear to worksites before submersion; there is no dive boat support. I could go on. I am suing the Director in Spanish court for non-return of a refund.

    • As the director of Sanisera Institute, I will reply only once to the messages that Mr. Richardson has posted as I find them disrespectful as well as false.
      I would like to declare that the problems and discussions that Mr. Richardson has raised are internal and confidential, and will be answered by our lawyer at the judicial level.

      • Within 24 hours of our arrival at the Sanisera property in Ciutadella on September 18, 2017, the Director cancelled the participation of me and my wife in an elected session, “013: Underwater Archaeology in Sa Nitja.” No malfeasance was raised. We asked for our money back. The Director refused. He offered classroom only. We declined. We left. This is how it stands. All facts. No falsehoods. No opinions.

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