Heritage of the Serenissima: An Archaeo-Historic Tour Through the Venetian Empire

Seminar Quick Facts

Location: Venice, Italy (excursion to Koper, Slovenia)

Faculty Leader: Krish Seetah, Anthropology

BOSP Special Programs Coordinator: Morgan Kapinos

Arrival date in Venice, Italy (tentative): July 23, 2018

Departure date from Venice, Italy (tentative): August 12, 2018


Academic Prerequisites
Two required meetings in Spring Quarter - If off-campus during Spring Quarter, communicate with the Faculty in advance to make arrangements to participate in the meetings remotely.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention
Health Information for Travelers to Italy
Health Information for Travelers to Slovenia

US State Department Country Information

Visa Information
Consulate General of Italy
Consulate General of Slovenia

General Information: Visit the Overseas Seminars Overview page

General Description

The seminar offers a unique view of the Venetian Republic. Based on an archaeo-historic contextualization of key themes that inspired ‘the birthplace of capitalism’. The course integrates thematic concentrations on trade, environment, and heritage. Students will be guided through the ways in which the military and labor history of Venice shaped its growth into one of the most important mercantile centers in medieval Europe. Complementing this ‘grand narrative’, students will also be provided with a detailed account of daily life, revealed through the rich archaeological record of the region.

Upon completing the seminar, students can expect to:

1.     Triangulate between different approaches to understanding the past;

2.     Be aware of the nature of ‘cultural contact’ between groups of people;

3.     Grasp the extent to which material culture can reveal the details of daily life, as well as showcase how ‘expansion’ occurred on the ground;

4.     Appreciate the geographic, political, and environmental factors that underpin modern-day Venice, using these to critically evaluate the current rhetoric that surrounds one of the most renowned cities in Europe;

5.     Understand how and why the Venetian Republican Expansion is a unique iteration of ‘conquest and colonization’.

The seminar will concentrate mainly on Venice, but students will also travel to important locations in the surrounding region, including Feltre in the foothills of the Dolomites and the world famous university city of Padua. In addition, we will travel to Slovenia, to visit Koper, a richly informative city that illustrates the way in which colonial expansion influenced the wider Adriatic. The seminar also includes a three-day campaign on an archaeological excavation, where students will participate in an ongoing dig and post-excavation analysis of materials from Torcello, the largest excavation undertaken in the Veneto.


Students will be evaluated on participation and engagement during class time and whilst on excursions; each participant will have one presentation per week based on discrete projects; students will also produce a short final paper (5-10 pages), which will be graded. The topic of the paper will be developed with the Faculty Leader/Program Assistant. The course will be designed to take the students through a rigorous and challenging curriculum, but one that is also accessible and exciting in its scope.


Since the medieval period, Venice has been a world-renowned mercantile center and one of the most visited and studies sites in Europe. Along with the respective location in Slovenia, the seminar locations offer unique insights into changing cultural ideologies over time, as a consequence of conquest. The sites provide important examples of the archaeo-historic and architectural heritage that exists today. This has helped to characterize what we consider to be exemplary of Venetian Republican Expansion, but also, how we conceive of the modern city.

Living and Travel Conditions

Students will share accommodation in a local Venetian hotel. Daily activities will be reachable by walking or public transport, which in this case will be by Vaparetto (waterbus). Travels outside Venice will either be by chartered bus, or high-speed inter-regional trains. Students with limited mobility should carefully evaluate their ability to participate comfortably in this seminar, as a significant amount of time will be spent on excavation, which may involve strenuous physical activity. 


Krish Seetahis an Assistant Professor in Anthropology, who has been working in the wider Veneto region since 2004. He has excavated and analyzed materials from some 15 sites spanning the entire region, as well as locations in Slovenia, and Montenegro. From these projects, he has published a number of articles and given well over two-dozen conference presentations and lectures on various themes that span the context of trade and its development, to the human-animal interactions that flourished with Republican Expansion. More recently, he has developed a multidisciplinary study looking at disease, focused on the unique case of how malaria proliferated in the Veneto and surrounding region.

Prerequisites and Expectations

Any prior experience in art history, architecture, or archaeology, is welcome but not required. Students will be able to build on their existing skills or develop new ones based on their individual interests. There will be two required meetings in Spring Quarter in preparation for the seminar. Students that will be off-campus during Spring Quarter should communicate with the Faculty Leader in advance to make arrangements to complete these meetings remotely.

Application Process

Number of students accepted: 15 undergraduate students

Grading Basis

Letter grade

Passport and Visa

Students are solely responsible for obtaining their passport and visa (if applicable). Every BOSP participant MUST have a signed passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the scheduled RETURN date from the overseas program. Students who do not have a valid passport must apply for a new or renewed passport immediately. For information on obtaining or renewing a U.S. passport please visit the State Department website.

To determine whether a visa is necessary for your program, visit the Consulate General of Italy and the Consulate General of Slovenia websites. You may also consult with the recommended visa service providers listed below.

Visa Central by CIBT offers online Stanford rates; or contact the local office:

VisaCentral San Francisco
555 Montgomery Street, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94111
(877) 535-0688
Walk-in hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Travisa for Stanford Travel Program offers online Stanford rates; or contact the local office:

Travisa San Francisco
220 Montgomery Street, Suite 991
San Francisco, CA 94104
Dedicated Accounts Team- (415) 837-0771 (Select Option #3)

Health and Safety

Students on international programs should be aware that attitudes toward medical conditions, disabilities, and psychological conditions vary by culture and under the laws of the host countries. These differences impact the level of treatment and accommodation available abroad. Students should give serious consideration to their health and personal circumstances when accepting a place in a program and should consult with their physicians.

While the benefits of international travel can be enormous, it is often associated with certain health and safety risks. Thankfully, a number of interventions exist to mitigate these risks including vaccines, use of certain medications, and specific behavior changes. Health concerns vary by the particular destination, time of year, the health of the individual, type of accommodations, length of stay and specific activities. Participants should be up to date on all their regular immunizations, check the CDC website for vaccinations and immunizations. In addition, specific travel vaccines such as typhoid, yellow fever, or rabies vaccines may be indicated. Various types of medication may also be needed to prevent life-threatening malaria or altitude illness; or to treat traveler’s diarrhea. Finally, students should learn and utilize insect precautions, food and water precautions, and general safety precautions. These can prevent illnesses such as dengue fever, schistosomiasis, HIV; or accidents such as those involving motor vehicles. In spite of all the precautions, occasionally students due become ill or sustain an injury while traveling. Thankfully, most of these are minor. However, it is critical students have a clear plan of care in case of an emergency on their trip. The travel clinic at the Vaden Health Center has produced an online travel health module that provides comprehensive strategies to help you stay safe and healthy while traveling.

Students must review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for complete information regarding the health concerns and vaccine recommendations specific to Italy and Slovenia. Students must also discuss with the on-campus Vaden Health Center Travel Clinic or a travel health specialist about the best ways to protect their health.

Students must review the U.S. State Department’s Country Information for complete information on safety and security in Italy and Slovenia.

As with any foreign travel, emphasis will be placed on staying away from questionable situations, avoiding injury, and preventing infectious disease. Students will be expected to travel in groups, avoid travel at night, and stay with the group unless prior approval is obtained.

While overseas, students are advised to be alert to their surroundings, and be particularly aware of any health and safety advisories for the areas in which they will be visiting. Students should consult with their health care provider(s) to be prepared for potential illness. Additional issues of personal health and safety and precautions will be discussed in detail during the mandatory pre-seminar preparation and upon arriving in country.

If you are uncomfortable traveling under such conditions, you should not apply to this seminar.

Program Modification and Cancelation

Stanford reserves the right to cancel or modify the seminar before or during its operation for any reason, including natural disasters, emergencies, low enrollment, or unavailability of facilities or personnel or compliance with the University travel policy. The specific seminar dates, locations, facilities, and activities are subject to change depending on available resources at the time, safety and security situations on the ground, and other important considerations that may arise for a successful implementation of the seminar.