Project Description


In this field school students have the opportunity to participate in the historical and ongoing “Battle for Madrid” research study. This is part of a long-term project examining the archaeology of conflict in Spain, covering the civil war (1936-1939) and the Franco dictatorship (1939-1975). The project aims to understand the social experience of institutional and non-institutional violence and political repression using material culture as its main source. The project, which started in 2006, has examined a variety of war and postwar scenarios, from battlefields to social housing. The Spanish Civil War is the perfect place to understand modern mass violence through its archaeological signatures. The 2017 season intends to deploy a variety of state-of-the-art archaeological techniques to document and analyze the remains of the war and postwar period in and around Madrid. Among other places, we will be excavating two 19th-century buildings that saw heavy action between international pro-government soldiers and rebel troops in 1936. These buildings were bombed out and never reconstructed, thus offering a unique archaeological window into the war. This project excavates literally and metaphorically the myths of the Spanish Civil War that captured the worlds imagination and those of the dictatorship that followed.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: July 1-August 1, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,610
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 20, 2018
  • Instructors: Dr. Alfredo González-Ruibal, Xurxo Ayán Vila, Salvatore Garfi, Víctor M. Fernández
  • Online Orientation:  May 20, 2018, 10:00 AM PST
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Credits: Diagonal

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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.

Dr. Alfredo González-Ruibal
Dr. Alfredo González-Ruibal
Dr. González-Ruibal is a faculty with the Institute of Heritage Sciences (Incipit) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC).
Dr. Xurxo Ayán Vila
Dr. Xurxo Ayán Vila
Dr. Ayán Vila is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of the Basque Country, Spain.
Dr. Salvatore Garfi
Dr. Salvatore Garfi
Dr. Garfi is a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Cultures, Languages and Areas Studies, Nottingham University.
Dr. Victor M. Fernández
Dr. Victor M. Fernández
Prof. Fernández is a Professor at the Department of Prehistory, Complutense University of Madrid.


Attending the Spanish Civil War field school was truly an experience I will never forget. Alfredo and the other instructors were passionate about teaching and ensuring we were learning the various techniques applied to archaeological excavations and surveying. The skills I developed in Spain will further my career, and will help with future excavations. Alfredo was truly committed to us having the best experience possible, and his love for his work was inspiring. I met so many incredible people, made some amazing friends, who have made this trip uniquely special for me. If you have any interest in the Spanish civil war, or war for that matter, or the history of Spain, this is definitely the field school for you.
Phil Mccheyne, University of Michigan, 2016
The Spain-Modern Warfare field school was sweaty, dirty, hot, and brutal. I had the time of my life. Alfredo Gonzalez–Ruibal is simply one of the smartest, most genuine people I have ever met, and he was genuinely interested in making sure I returned to the U.S. a competent archaeologist. His knowledge and passion of the Spanish Civil War is inspiring, and his team is professional, knowledgeable, and fun. If you are at all interested in archaeology, join this project. You will sweat, and you will have an unforgettable experience.
Charles Borngrebe, Colorado State University, 2016

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.


Accommodation will be in college dorms on campus at the Complutense University of Madrid. The residences are high-quality and similar to university dormitories in the United States. Students will be lodged in double rooms with private bathroom and free wifi. Most of the team will be residing with the students in the same residence and will be available 24 hours. Breakfast and dinner will be on campus. Lunch is in the field. Note that Spanish lunch times are quite different from those in other parts of the world, with late lunch (2:30 pm or later) and late dinner (9:30 pm or later) being normal. We will be able to cater to vegetarians and gluten and lactose intolerants, but please check for other dietary options.

Travel Info

Students will be met at Madrid international airport (MAD) at 1:00 pm on the first day of this program. The meeting point is Caffricio (Terminal 4, Floor 0, Arrivals, Public Zone[1]). An alternative meeting point is Madrid-Puerta de Atocha train station, a hub for trains coming from Barcelona and Madrid, also at 1:00 pm[2].

If you miss your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.


US citizens need a passport to travel to Spain, but they do not require a visa for entering the country for 90 days or less. A visa waiver is obtained upon arrival at Madrid airport.

Citizens of other countries are asked to check the Spanish 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.