Balkan Heritage projects 2012:



Project type: field school (excavations)

Site/s: HERACLEA LYNCESTIS (founded in the fourth century BC by Philip of Macedon and conquered by the Romans two centuries later) was one of the key urban centers on Via Egnatia road that connected Rome and Asia Minor in Antiquity.
Period(s) of occupation: Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antique/Early Byzantine (fourth century BC – sixth century AD)

The nearest air terminals: Skopje (160 km), Ohrid (75 km), Thessaloniki (Greece, 180 km), Sofia (Bulgaria, 350 km) - don't forget checking the low cost  flight options! If participants arrive by plane to one of these airports, a transfer to Bitola may be arranged by request (Please, specify this in your application form!). Individual or group transfers’ price may vary depending on both distance and number of passengers from 30 to 100 EUR.

Travel/access to the site:
Bitola is in the Southwestern part of the Republic of Macedonia, 15 km from the border with Greece. It may be reached by  bus  from major Macedonian cities and Sofia (Bulgaria) and by train from Skopje. Note, there are no direct bus or train connections between Bitola and Thessaloniki (Greece). Participants who arrive first at Thessaloniki airport could ask Balkan Heritage for a pick-up transfer or catch a bus to the Greek border town of Florina and then get on a taxi to Bitola (app. 40 km).

Description: According to the Athenian orator and lawyer Demosthenes, Heraclea was founded by Philip II (the father of Alexander the Great), as a strategic centre of the north-western Macedonian province of Lyncestis. Heraclea was named in honour of Heracles (Hercules), the claimed progenitor of the ruling Macedonian dynasty which Philip belonged to. The epithet “Lyncestis” means “the Land of the Lynx” in Greek. Nowadays the ruins of the ancient city lie at the western side of modern town of Bitola. For last 50 years the National Institute, Museum and Gallery of Bitola ( Macedonia) has been excavating that site and uncovering Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique pages of town history. In 1950s state authorities declared archaeological heritage to be there for an archaeological reserve. During last half century significant monuments of Antiquity (Forum, Theater, Early Christian basilicas and residential buildings (many of them decorated with polychrome mosaics) were uncovered and restored.

Season 2012 envisions excavations in the residential area in front of the Theater. Two field school sessions are available in 2012, each includes following three modules: fieldwork including maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling out context sheets and labels, drawing an elevation plan/ a ground plan/ a cross-section, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a level device, and taking photographs at the site; lectures, workshops and field trainings in Classic and Field Archaeology as well as Finds' processing and Documentation and excursions to: the ancient Hellenistic and Roman city of Stobi, and the medieval town and lake of Ohrid (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (refer to the Course description and Field School agenda below!).

Participants, who join the two project sessions are going to have a different schedule during the second session, including:

1. (at the weekends) Behind-the-scenes visit to the stores and workshops of the archaeological site of Stobi;
2. (in the afternoons) Lab work related to the finds' processing and documentation and workshops for:

  • Archaeological Documentation and Illustration of Ancient Pottery;
  • Recording, reading and dating of Ancient coins;
  • Mosaic-recording;
  • Experimental mosaic-making.

All participants will receive:

  • Project handbook (in PDF version by e-mail and a hard copy on arrival);
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the fieldwork hours, educational modules, and sites visited.
New Bulgarian University grants 6 credits  to students for participation in one project session and 9 credits for participation in two sessions. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee!  Click for details!
Archaeological and historical context: Heraclea Lyncestis (founded in 4 century BC) is situated on a low hill at the crossroads of Via Egnatia (called so after 148 BC) and the road connecting Pelagonia with the Vardar valley. Such a location made Heraclea strategically important, and it became the principal town and administrative center of the district of Lyncestis (a fertile plain surrounded by wooded mountains). Heraclea is mentioned in the chronicles describing the campaigns of Julius Caesar during the civil wars as a supply depot, and inscriptions of veterans who settled here date as early as the turn of the new era. Numerous private and official inscriptions as well as discovered monuments and artifacts, attest to the town’s importance during the Roman period. Many names of bishops from Heraclea came from the fourth, fifth, and sixth- century sources. The Ostrogoths, led by their king Theodorich, sacked the town in AD 472 and again in AD 479, but it was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. In the late 6th century the Slavs conquered Pelagonia and Heraclea’s urban history came to the end.

Excavations have revealed several sections of the fortification wall on the acropolis and two basilicas in the main part of the town. Both basilicas have well-preserved mosaics from the fifth and sixth century AD, depicting geometric and figured patterns. The most interesting of the mosaics, remarkable for its size and decoration structure was found in the narthex of the large basilica – the rectangle framework (110 sq.m) contains 36 octagonal panels with images of fishes, water birds and mythological figures; the panels are linked by intricate meanders. Excavations near both basilicas have uncovered fourth and fifth century AD streets and buildings. Mosaics cover the floors of several private and public buildings near the basilicas.

A large part of the ancient theater, built on the slopes of the acropolis in the second century AD, has been excavated and the auditorium has been recently restored.

Affiliation: Balkan Heritage Field School/Foundation, National Institute and Museum– Bitola (Macedonia) and New Bulgarian University
Dig Directors: Anica Georgievska and Engin Nasuh (archaeologists and curators at National Institute and Museum – Bitola, Macedonia)
Project coordinator: Angela Pencheva (archaeologist, Balkan Heritage; PhD student at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany)
Season dates: 30 June - 29 July, 2012
Sessions' dates:
Field school session 1: 30 June - 14 July, 2012
Field school session 2: 15 - 29 July, 2012
Application Deadline:
Field school session 1: 15 June 2012
Field school session 2: 1 July 2012
Minimum length of stay for volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)
Minimum age: 18 (16, if participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 35
Language: English
Special requirements: The project is not recommended for individuals with solar allergies or other special illnesses that might be exacerbated during the intensive outdoor activities. The average summer temperatures in the area are 25-35 C or higher. All participants should bring clothes and cosmetics suitable for hot and sunny weather. All participants are expected to have some (at least theoretical) background in archaeological field techniques and methods. Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.
Experience required: No


Instructors/Trainers: Anica Georgievska, Engin Nasuh (archaeologists and curators at National Institute and Museum – Bitola, Macedonia), Angela Pencheva (Program Director of Balkan Heritage, PhD student at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany), Dr. Eva Todorova (Balkan Heritage archaeologist), Dimitar Georgievski (Balkan Heritage affiliated archaeologist, MA student - Skopje University, Macedonia), Georgi Dimovski (senior conservator at National Institute and Museum – Bitola, Macedonia), Toni Nikolovski (senior conservator and finds illustrator at National Institute and Museum – Bitola, Macedonia), Matthew Schueller (field instructor, MA student - University of Evansville, USA)
Lectures, workshops and field trainings:

Designing of archaeological research
  • Preliminary research (indoor stage);
  • Fieldwalking and site recording;
  • Techniques and methods of preliminary archaeological research
  • Use of tools and working techniques;
  • Methodology and excavation practices;
  • Stratigraphy and chronology. The Haris Matrix;

Field and graphic documentation

  • Field journal, field finds' catalogue and context sheets;
  • Record cards and bag labels (tags);
  • Graphic documentation (drawn record): drawings of cross-section,  plan, architectural structure (optional), grave (optional);
  • Photographic records;

  • Artefact recording and illustration;
  • Storage of artifacts;
  • "First aid" and consolidation in situ (optional);

Historical and cultural context of the site

  • History of Ancient Macedonia (Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman period);
  • History and Archaeology of Heraclea Lyncestis;
  • Roman Civil, Public and Religious Architecture (based on examples from Heraclea Lyncestis and Macedonia);
  • Typology of Roman Pottery with Examples from HERACLEA LYNCESTIS;
  • Roman Mosaics - Conservation and Restoration.



First day

Arrival at the hotel in Bitola and check-in before 7.30 pm.

Pick-up transfer from one of the nearest airports: Skopje, Thessaloniki and Sofia is available upon request!

Second day

Welcome and orientation panel. LECTURE and Bitola sightseeing.


Working days

6.30-7.10 - Breakfast;
7.10-7.30 - Walk to the excavation site;
7.30 am to 1.00 pm - Fieldwork, including 30-min break.
1.00-4.30 pm - Lunch and Siesta break;
4.30-6.00 pm – Lectures/Workshops;
8.00-9.00 - Dinner

Everyday fieldwork starts with short (up to 30-min) trainings/instructions, that  cover different aspects of field methods and practices.

Afternoon lectures and workshops are in the area of  Macedonian and Roman History and Archaeology, finds' processing and archaeological documentation.

During the evenings the project team could organize or assist participants in organizing leisure activities  (attending cultural or sport events, movies etc.).

Mid-project weekend:

Guided visit to the Hellenistic and Roman city of Stobi.

Participants, who join both project sessions will be able to participate in a behind-the-scenes visit to the stores and workshops of Stobi during the second session.

Mid-project weekend:

Guided visit to Ohrid on Ohrid Lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Participants, who join both project sessions will be able to participate in the trip to Ohrid and have  complete free time during the second session.

Last day

Departure after breakfast.

Drop-off lifts to Thessaloniki and Skopje are available upon request!



Room and Board arrangements: In comfortable hotel rooms (with two to three beds, bathroom with WC and shower), equipped with air-conditioning, TV and Wi Fi (single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee of 300 EUR). The hotel is located in the down town, close to the town’s main pedestrian street. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted!
Free time: Guided visits around the town of Bitola, Ohrid and Ohrid Lake  as well as the archaeological site of Stobi are organized for all field school participants. The town of Bitola offers a lot of opportunities for sport and entertainment. For more information look at!
Look-up at the suggested travel ideas before/after the field school (not included in the project package and not covered by the admission fee)!

The Admission fee for one project session includes educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.


The Early bird admission fee for 1 project session is 1214 EUR (app.1569 USD Check current exchange rates!).

The Early bird admission fee for 2 project sessions is 2428 EUR (app. 3139 USD Check current exchange rates!)


The regular admission fee for 1 project session is 1349 EUR (app.1739 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

The regular admission fee for 2 project sessions is 2563 EUR (app. 3319 USD. Check current exchange rates!)



* 5% discount off the regular admission fee available in case of:

  1. Participation in more than 1 BH project or project session in 2012. (5% discount is valid for all projects/sessions to be attended).
  2. Membership in the Archaeological Institute of America.

* 7% discount off the regular admission fee available in case of:

  1. Small Groups (two or three people, who participate in a BH project in 2012 (the discount is valid for each participant for all projects/sessions to be attended). 

* 10% discount off the regular admission fee available in case of:

  1. Larger Groups (four or more people, who participate in a BH project in 2012 (the discount is valid for each participant for all projects/ sessions to be attended).
  2. Participation in any BH project/s in the past.
* 15% discount off the regular admission fee is available for Balkan Heritage alumni, who participate in more than one BH project or project session in 2012. (15% discount is valid only for the second, third etc. project/session to be attended).