Project Description


Located in the Shire region of Northern Ethiopia, this field school will allow students the opportunity to excavate a site which is virtually unexplored. This site is located near the ancient capital of the Aksumite Kingdom (first to sixth century CE) Mai Adrasha, located 50 KM west of Axum. The site, the region, and its complex cultural heritage, provide important information on the sub-Saharan counterpart of the Greco-Roman world. These societies economic base of agriculture and trade resulted in close contact with the North, and an adoption of early Christianity. The research area consists of almost 100 km² and is located east of the modern city of Inda Selassie. The Shire Archeological Project concession comprises of extensive ancient remains dating from the prehistoric to the medieval period. It includes two large sites, Mai Adrasha and Mezaber Adi Menaber. During the 2018 season, students will work in Mai Adrasha, a site under threat of destruction due to continuing panning of natural gold by the local population. In addition to survey and intensive excavations, students will also have the opportunity to participate in community outreach and assist with crucial site management.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: November 11-December 15, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,775
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: Sep 1, 2017
  • Instructors: Prof. Willeke Wendrich, Ms. Rachel Moy
  • Online Orientation:  October 18, 2018, 10:00 AM PST
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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Prof. Willeke Wendrich
Prof. Willeke Wendrich
Prof. Willeke Wedrich is the Joan Silsbee Chair of African Cultural Archaeology, a Professor of Egyptian Archaeology at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and the Director of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.
Rachel Moy
Rachel Moy
Rachel Moy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Archaeology Interdepartmental Program at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.


This is a new IFR field school. No student testimonials are available.

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


Students and staff will be staying in a dedicated excavation house in a quiet neighborhood in Shire/Inda Selassie. The accommodations are shared bedrooms, with two or three persons per room and a basic shower and squat toilet in each room. Sheets and pillows will be provided, but participants should bring towels.

Once we start fieldwork, the day is fairly full. We will have breakfast in the dig house at 6:30 am and we leave for the field at 7:15am – arriving there by 7:30 am. A light lunch will be served at 12:00 am. Work in the field concludes each day at 3:30pm. The late afternoons are reserved for lab work and daily lectures. At 6:00 pm we get together in the labs to discuss the day’s work. Every work group gives a brief report on the results, problems and successes. During these meetings we will discuss results and interpretations. You are urged to contribute information and suggestions. At 7:00 pm we will eat dinner as a group at a local restaurant.

Ciudad Perdida
Ethiopia: shire

Travel Info

Students should arrive to the Axum airport (AXU) on November 11 and will be met by the by project staff members. A minibus will transport the students to Shire and we will coordinate arrival times at Axum Airport, which is reached by an internal flight from Addis Ababa. Please make sure to arrive in Addis Ababa on the morning of the 11th or the day before to catch the connecting flight to Axum. The domestic airport in Addis Ababa is adjacent to the international airport. When you leave the international arrivals hall turn left and follow the signs for a distance of approximately 600 meters.

If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email the project director. Local cell phone numbers and other emergency contact information will be provided to all enrolled students.


Travelers to Ethiopia are required to obtain an Ethiopian visa. To apply for a visa, your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of entry. It is recommended that you obtain a visa before arrival from the Ethiopian embassy or consulate and you will be provided with a letter from Prof. Wendrich and a copy of the excavation permit, which will allow you to do so. If for some reason you are unable to acquire a visa before your trip, tourists can obtain a 1 or 3 month tourist visa on arrival at an Ethiopian airport. The fee is $50 for one month and $70 for three months, payable in U.S. dollars.

Citizens of other countries are asked to check the Ethiopian Embassy website page at their home country for specific visa requirement.

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.