BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL (BHFS)

The educational platform for solidarity in benefit of the cultural heritage of south-eAstern europe


The Balkan Heritage Field School (BHFS, est. 2003) offers every year between 8 and 15 field school projects/courses in the field of Archeology and History of South-Eastern Europe, Documentation, Conservation and Restoration of Historic Artifacts and Monuments, taught in English, in two Balkan countries: Bulgaria and Macedonia. Various excursions around the Balkans, including the most attractive historical sites and cities of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Greece, Serbia and Turkey supplement the BHFS program.

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The Balkan Heritage Field School Projects are affiliated with ongoing research and/or conservation projects (such as excavations, expeditions, workshops), contributing to the study and preservation of the Balkan cultural heritage. They involve as trainers and instructors professional archaeologists and conservators, historians as well as other heritage specialists from Bulgaria, Macedonia, USA, Canada, France and Japan. Each BHFS project combines 3 basic educational modules: theoretical (lectures, presentations and field trainings), practical (participation in excavations, lab work, conservation workshops, field trips) and excursions to attractive archaeological and cultural sites & behind-the-scene visits. BHFS projects are listed among academic courses of New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria and all participants can obtain academic credits upon request.  

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Projects from the Balkan Heritage Field School Program enablehigh school, graduate and postgraduate students, heritage specialists and scholars as well as people who have Archaeology and/or Heritage Conservation as a hobby:

• to gain/expand their hands-on experience in Archaeology, Documentation and Conservation of Monuments and Artifacts;
• to enhance their knowledge and skills in various aspects of European and Field Archaeology, Documentation and Conservation of Monuments and Artifacts;
• to broaden their intercultural experience and establish new contacts worldwide;
• to experience authentic Balkan hospitality and face the History of the Old World.

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The BHFS functions as a legal part of the Balkan Heritage Foundation - Bulgarian public, non-profit, non-governmental organization. Since 2003 the BHFS has implemented 52 field school projects attended by more than 900 students from 48 countries.
 
Balkan Heritage Mission is to support study, protection, restoration and promotion of sites, artifacts and practices belonging or related to the cultural heritage of South-eastern Europe.Now you can support the Balkan Heritage Projects and Activities. Donate online by using your bank CARD!

BHFS affiliated partners: New Bulgarian University, Regional Museums of History Blagoevgrad, Pazardzhik and Varna, Archaeological Museum of Sozopol, Excavation teams of Apollonia Pontica, Pistiros and Tell Yunatsite (Bulgaria); National Institute of Stobi (Macedonia); Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre (France); Conservation Of Sculptures, Monuments And Objects (Canada).

BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL PROJECTS 2003-present:

Ancient Greeks in the Land of Dionysus - Excavation of Emporion Pistiros, Thrace, 2013 - present (Bulgaria) - participants in this BHFS project take part in the regular excavations at Ancient Greek emporion Pistiros in Thrace, aiming to collect more data about the earliest period of the settlement’s existence, the religious life and the interactions between the different ethnical groups there. The lectures and workshops will be preliminary focused on the Tharcian history and the specifics of the Hellenistic material culture in the region. Additional parts in the agenda are the organized excursions to the ancient city of Plovdiv and several of the more significant Thracian royal Tombs, as well as the optional visits to some recently discovered Thracian sites and the ethnographical village of Koprivshtitsa. BHFS Project Partners: Pistiros Excavation Team and New Bulgarian University.      

Rise and Fall of the First European Civilization - Tell Yunatsite Excavations, 2013 - present (Yunatsite-Pazardzhik, Bulgaria) - The field school is accommodated in Pazardzhik, Bulgaria and provides opportunities for archaeological fieldwork at Tell Yunatsite - one of the first European urban settlements (4900-4100 BC). Along with excavations field school participants are able to attend presentations and lectures on European Prehistory and Field Archaeology given by prominent Bulgarian archaeologists, workshops for finds'processing and documentation as well as excursions to the ancient city of Plovdiv and the Museum of the Europe's best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings in Stara Zagora. BHFS Project Partners: Tell Yunatsite Excavation Team and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Workshop for Conservation, Restoration and Documentation of Roman Mosaics, 2012 - present ( Stobi, Macedonia) - During the workshop participants are guided by professional conservators through the consequent stages of  the conservation, restoration and  documentation, as well as the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman mosaics. They employ their skills in a real conservation project thus supporting the efforts of N.I. Stobi to maintain and preserve a large number of authentic Roman mosaics found and kept in situ in the ancient city of Stobi (nowadays an archaeological park under jurisdiction of N.I. Stobi). The first two workshops took place in 2012 and 2013 and contributed significantly to the conservation of floor mosaics in the Theodossian Palace in Stobi (4th century AD). BHFS Project Partners: N.I. Stobi (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria). 

Apollonia Pontica Excavations, 2011 - present (Sozopol, Bulgaria) - The field school project is among the most popular in our field school. It takes place at the Ancient Greek, Late Antique and Medieval sacred area of Apollonia Pontica/Sozopol on St. Kirik island in the Black Sea. Together with Appollonia Pontica Excavation Team, BHFS participants seek the ancient temple of Appollo and the pedestal of his colossal bronze statue. The field school program combines fieldwork at the site, presentations and lectures on Field Archaeology and Ancient Greek colonization and culture with workshops for finds' processing and documentation and excursions to the ancient peninsular town Nessebar and megaliths of Begliktash. BHFS Project Partners: Appollonia Pontica Excavation Team, Archaeological Museum of Sozopol and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).


Birth of Europe - Excavation of the Early Neolithic Settlement Ilindentsi, 2011 - present (Ilindentsi, Bulgaria) - The field school offers an amazing opportunity to dig at an Early Neolithic settlement (6000-5500 BC) just under your feet. Due the natural erosion Neolithic layer is just 20 to 30 cm under the present surface. It keeps evidence about the earliest Neolithic farmers who migrated to Europe in the seventh millennium BC. Field school team consists of international specialists from Bulgaria and France. BHFS Project Partners: Regional Museums of History Blagoevgrad, New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria) and  Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre (France).

Stobi Excavations, 2010 - present (Stobi, Macedonia). The field school project takes place every year at the site of Stobi - the capital of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda. Excavations at this magnificent site offer an amazing opportunity for all field school participants to study textbook clear stratigraphy, to practice all basic excavation techniques in the field and to look through centuries of the everyday life of the Roman citizens of Stobi. So far the field school participants excavated twenty five Roman  graves (1st century BC - 3rd century AD) with cremated or skeletal remains at the Western Necropolis (very exciting find was a grave with nine terracotta bulls) and a various buildings from the second half of the 6th century AD, surrounding the “Semi Circular Square” (presumably shops and stores) and residential buildings next to the city wall. During the field school the students usually visit the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis and Bitola, the town of Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNSCO World Heritage Site) and optionally the ancient cities of Pella and Vergina in Greece.  BHFS Partners: NI Stobi (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Workshop for Conservation and Restoration of Roman Pottery, 2009 - present (Stobi, Macedonia). The first workshop took place in 2009 in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria but since 2010 it has been hosted by the N.I. Stobi at the archaeological park Stobi, Macedonia. During the workshop participants are guided by professional conservators through the consequent stages of  the conservation, restoration and  documentation, as well as the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman pottery. All participants employ their skills in a real conservation project, that usually results in complete conservation/restoration of 5 to 12 Roman and Late Roman vessels from the Stobi’s Collection. BHFS Project Partners: NI Stobi (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Workshop for Conservation, Restoration and Documentation of Ancient Greek Pottery, 2009 - present ( Emona-Sozopol, Bulgaria) - The workshop takes place every year consequently in Emona and Sozopol on the Bulgarian Black sea coast. During the workshop participants are guided by professional conservators through the consequent stages of  the conservation, restoration and  documentation, as well as the history and technology of Ancient Greek and Hellenistic pottery. All participants employ their skills in a real conservation project, that usually results in complete conservation of 8 to 20 Ancient Greek vessels from the collection of the Archaeological Museum of Sozopol. BHFS Project Partners: Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team,  Archaeological Museum of Sozopol and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

"Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition to Medieval Balkan Churches, 2008 - present (Sofia, Bulgaria) – For the last six years the “Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition has either created or upgraded a significant number of iconographic schemes, architecture plans and sections, developed a vast photographic database and added new data on history and art of twelve medieval churches and chapels in risk. The first e-publication with expedition's results is on its way and is going to be a fact in 2013/2014. BHFS Project Partners: New Bulgarian University, Fulbright Commission (USA-Bulgaria), Queen’s University and Conservation Of Sculptures, Monuments And Objects (Canada).

Workshop for Conservation, Restoration and Documentation of Late Roman Mural Paintings, 2011 - present (Stobi, Macedonia). The first workshop in 2011 supported N.I. Stobi to complete small-scale but important conservation of frescoes on the eastern wall of the Old Episcopal Basilica in Stobi. It will be continued in 2014. BHFS Project Partners: NI Stobi (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

A Byzantine Cold Case File - Early Christian Monastery Excavations in Varna, 2009-2011 (Varna, Bulgaria) - The excavations in 2009-2011 on Djanavara hill in Varna, Bulgaria proved that the remains of a monumental Early Byzantine church excavated there back in the early 20-th century belonged to a monastery, which was destroyed by the raid of Avars and Slavs in the early seventh century AD. BHFS Project Partners: Varna Regional Museum of History and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).
Heraclea Lyncestis Excavations, 2008 - 2012 (Bitola, Macedonia) - the field school projects took place at the ancient city of Heraclea Lyncestis next to the contemporary town of Bitola. During the first two years of the project various parts of the city's drainage system, a Late Antique basilica and another building dated to that period were explored. For the last three excavation seasons (2010-2012) the field school participants excavated only the space in front of the Roman theater, esp. a 5th - 6th century terrace building and an impressive Roman early 2nd century building preceding the construction of the theater. The program combined fieldwork at the site with presentations and lectures on Field Archaeology and Classical Archaeology, workshops for finds' processing and documentation with excursions to Ohrid and Stobi. BHFS Project Partners: N.I. Institute and Museum - Bitola, Youth Cultural Center-Bitola (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Mezek Heritage Workcamp, 2009 ( Mezek, Bulgaria) - the workcamp project supported maintenance of cultural heritage sites (Thracian tomb and Medieval fortress) in the village of Mezek. As a part of the workcamp program, participants visited various cultural sites in the region and assessed their potential as tourist attractions. BHFS Project Partner: Municipality of Svilengrad (Bulgaria).

Augusta Traiana-Beroia-Borui Resque Excavations, 2007-2009 ( Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) - In the course of three years our field school took place at various rescue excavation sites in the town of Stara Zagora. Our participants took part in excavation of a Roman aqueduct crossing the moat that once surrounded the Roman city, public and private buildings and found numerous artifacts of Roman and Late Roman urban culture (2nd - 6th century AD). All of them were introduced to the reality of rescue excavations, methods of Field Archaeology and Lab work as well as to the history and rich cultural heritage of the region. BHFS Project Partner:  Regional History Museum Stara Zagora (Bulgaria).


 
Bitola Heritage Workcamp, 2008 (Bitola, Macedonia) - The projects assisted the excavations of the ancient city of HERACLEA LYNCESTIS next to the contemporary town of Bitola. BHFS Project Partners: N.I. Institute and Museum - Bitola and Youth Cultural Center-Bitola ( Macedonia).

Stara Zagora Heritage Workcamp, 2007-2008 (Stara Zagora, Bulgaria) - both work camp projects, organised consequently in 2007 and 2008, assisted rescue excavations of AUGUSTA TRAIANA-BEROIA-BORUI - an archaeological reserve under the contemporary town of Stara Zagora, and other cultural heritage sites' maintenance in the town. Two cleaning campaigns of the Town's Roman forum attracted local journalists and as a consequence media raised the issue of neglected cultural sites in Stara Zagora. BHFS Project Partners: Regional History Museum - Stara Zagora, Open Society Club - Stara Zagora (Bulgaria), SEEYN Network (BiH).

    

Dragoman Heritage Workcamp, 2006 (Dragoman, Bulgaria) - The  project assisted an expedition tracking the Roman road Via militaris on the territory of the municipality of Dragoman (Western Bulgaria). BHFS Project Partners: Dragoman municipality (Bulgaria), Ekoobshtnost Foundation (Bulgaria), SEEYN (BiH).

 

 

Dragoman Heritage Workcamp, 2005 (Dragoman, Bulgaria) – The very first “fresco-hunting” photo expedition to medieval churches (thirteenth-fourteenth century) in Nishava region (Western Bulgaria). BHFS Project Partners: Dragoman municipality (Bulgaria), Eko Obshtnost Foundation (Bulgaria), SEEYN (BiH).

 

 

Mezdra Excavation Project, 2004 (Mezdra-Pavolche, Bulgaria) – (field school and workcamp). 6 very enthusiastic participants achieved a great progress in excavation of one Late Copper age house in sector 2 of Mezdra Fortress (NW Bulgaria) and contributed significantly to the documentation of artifacts related to Krivodol – Salcutsa - Bubanj Hum I A (Balkan Late Copper age culture spread out over the Central Balkans between 4400-4000 BC). BHFS Project Partners: SEEYN Network (BiH) and Vratsa Historic Museum (Bulgaria).

Zaminets Excavation Project, 2003 (Mezdra-Dolna Kremena, Bulgaria) – (field school and workcamp). The excavations of the prehistoric settlement located on top of Zaminec hill in NW Bulgaria were joint by more than 20 volunteers from SE Europe. They uncovered an intramural necropolis and numerous artifacts related to Krivodol – Salcutsa - Bubanj Hum IA (Balkan Late Copper age culture spread out over the Central Balkans between 4400-4000 BC). BHFS Project Partners: SEEYN Network (BiH) and Vratsa Historic Museum (Bulgaria).