Project type: field school (excavations).  The variety of activities and team flexibility make this project suitable for either beginners or advanced in Field Archaeology. 

Site/s: Apollonia Pontica - sector of the the ancient city's sacred precinct (temenos) located on St. Kirik Island, Sozopol, Bulgaria.
Period(s) of occupation: Archaic and Classical Greek and Early Byzantine (seventh - fifth century BC and fifth - seventh century AD)
Project venue: the picturesque, small Black Sea coastal town of Sozopol, Bulgaria is a popular summer destination for tourists.
The Nearest Air Terminals: Burgas airport (45 km), Varna airport (160 km). Don't forget checking the low cost  flight options! If participants arrive at the one of these airports, a transfer to Sozopol 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 20 to 100 EUR. Ask for details!
How to get there? Bus lines connect Sozopol with Burgas, Sofia (the Bulgarian capital) and Plovdiv.



Sessions' dates:

Field school session 1: 27 June - 11 July, 2015

Field school session 2: 11 July - 25 July, 2015

Field School Session 3 (Session 1 Extended):  27 June - 18 July, 2015

Application Deadlines:

For sessions 1, 1+2 and 3: 15 May 2015

For session 2: 1 June 2015   

Minimum length of stay for volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)

Minimum age: 18

Number of field school places available: Maximum 35

Project language: English

Experience required: No

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. Bear in mind that chilly, windy and reiny days are very rare but not uncommon. All participants are expected to get prepared for the dig by reading (at least) the BHFS handbook chapter about archaeological excavation techniques and methods (the BHFS e-handbook will be sent by e-mail to all registered students before the beginning of the project)! Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.


The Site: Apollonia Pontica (present-day Sozopol, Bulgria) is one of the most ancient towns on the Western Black Sea coast. The city, founded by Miletian colonists around 610 BC, was named Apollonia Pontica, in honour of the patron deity of Miletus - Apollo. The Ancient authors identify the philosopher named Anaximander as the founder of the city. It became an autonomous and strong democratic polis and important trade center between Ancient Greece and Thrace. Thanks to its strong navy and naturally protected harbors, Apollonia kept control of the major merchant road along the Western Black Sea Coast, called Via Pontica, for several centuries. The city preserved its independence during the campaigns of Phillip II of Macedon (342-339 BC) and Alexander the Great (335 BC) but in 72 BC it was conquered, pillaged and burned by the Roman legions of Marcus Lucullus. The city succeeded in restoring its former glory and was known in the Roman World as Apollonia Magna (Great Apollonia). Following the Christian mainstream tradition, its name was changed to Sozopol in the 4th century AD. Despite the damage, it survived the period of the Great Migration of People (4-7 century AD) and entered the Middle ages as a focal point of long-lasting Byzantine-Bulgarian conflicts.

Despite being one of the largest and richest Ancient Greek colonies in the Black sea region, Apollonia Pontica was famous in Antiquity because of the colossal statue of Apollo by the notorious Greek sculptor Calamis. According to Pliny the Elder (Pliny 34.29) and Strabo (Strabo, 7.319) the 13-meter high bronze sculpture cost 500 Talents. It was raised in the fifth century BC in front of the temple dedicated to Apollo Ietros (the Healer) - patron deity of Apollonia Pontica. In 72 BC the Romans  under Marcus Lucullus sacked the city and the colossal sculpture was transported to Rome as a trophy. It was exhibited for several centuries on the Capitoline Hill. During the Early Christian period it was lost - probably destroyed as many other pagan artefacts were.

Epigraphic sources mention that the temple of Apollo was situated on an island, identified by most of the scholars with St. Kirik Island - the closest one to the ancient city. However, until recently there was no archaeological evidence suggesting where the temple was situated. During the Balkan Heritage Field School excavations in 2013  a fragment of East Greek pottery with inscription - dedication to Apollo was found, what is an important evidence about the location of the temple.

The tiny island of St. Kirik is connected with the mainland  and the Old Town Quarter of Sozopol by a short and narrow breakwater (built in 1927). Its name originates  from the medieval monastery dedicated to Sv. Kirik and Sv.Yulita (St. Cyricus and his mother St. Julitta) that once existed there. The first archaeological survey on the island was conducted in 1904 by the French consul and scholar L. Degrand. The results from the excavations were never published and many precious artefacts from Archaic and Classical Greek period found there were transported to France and exhibited in the Louvre. For approximately 100 years after that the territory of St. Kirik Island was used as a military zone by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence. In 2005 the island was demilitarized and in 2009 the Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team lead by Dr. Krastina Panayotova restarted the excavations.  For the last five years the team unearthed there:

  • An Archaic Greek settlement that existed here prior to the temenos (seventh-sixth century BC);
  • A Late Archaic temple complex: a temple and an altar (late sixth - early fifth century BC) - presumably belonging to the famous temple of Apollo; 
  • An oval altar and a temple from the Hellenistic period (fourth century BC);
  • An Ancient Greek tholos;
  • Five Ancient Greek bothroi (pit altars);
  • An Ancient Greek Copper Foundry; 
  • Early Byzantine basilica and necropolis (fifth - seventh century AD).
The great discovery convinced the Bulgarian Government to declare the island a cultural heritage site and designate some of the abandoned military buildings  to be turned into a Museum of the Marine Civilizations. After the surrounding area is excavated, of course.

The Field School: Season 2015 envisions excavations at the top of the island, in the area of the Archaic and Classical Greek and Hellenistic temples, Ancient Greek Copper Foundry and the Early Christian basilica, where the excavations in 2012 and 2014 took place. The results from the last seasons were quite exciting and included:
  • Two ritual pits (botroi) from the Archaic Period containing: elaborated aribaloi (small pottery containers for perfumes and make up) shaped as: a bullhead, a ram, warrior heads, Goddess Artemis; several alabastroi (pottery and alabaster containers for perfumes), a bronze phiale, an iron sword, numerous pottery vessels, bones, etc;
  • Several Early Christian (V-th century AD) graves;
  • A Hellenistic ritual fireplace with remains of a clay wreath;
  • Architectural structures from the Archaic Period;
  • Numerous finds, including: several lamps from Archaic and Roman period, numerous pottery shards from Archaic, Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman period, fragments of marble decorative elements from Archaic and Hellenistic Public buildings, coins, animal and human bones, etc.
Come and help the project team to reveal the secrets of the forgotten temple of Apollo! The project sessions available in 2015 include the following three modules: 1. fieldwork including excavation, maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling out context sheets and labels, drawing elevation plans/ ground plans/ cross-sections, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a level device, and taking photographs at the site; 2. lectures, workshops and field trainings in Classical and Field Archaeology, finds' processing and documentation (including pottery drawing, cleaning, sorting, conservation and restoration of artifacts) and 3. excursions to archaeological and cultural sites in Sozopol and Nesebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as to some beautiful Black sea beaches and popular resorts (refer to the Course Program and Agenda!).
The participants who join either the three-week session (3) or the two project sessions (1&2) will be able to  develop further their skills and competences regarding the archaeological field work and finds' processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures and workshops for analyzing, recording and illustration of archaeological artifacts (esp. Ancient Greek pottery) and to join an excursion to the megalithic complex of Begliktash and the beach nearby.

Only the participants who join the two project sessions (1&2) will take part in the workshop for conservation and restoration of pottery. 

After the field school the participants could join the optional 5-day trip to Istanbul, Turkey.

    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.

    CREDIT HOURS: New Bulgarian University grants 6 credits to students for participation in one project session (1,2,3) and 9 credits for participation in two sessions (1&2). Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details please contact Admissions Office!


    Collaborative Universities & Institutions: the Balkan Heritage Foundation, Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team, Archaeological Museum of Sozopol, New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).


    Dig Director: Associate Professor Dr. Krastina Panayotova, PhD in Archaeology, Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;

    Deputy Dig Director and Chief Instructor: Teodora Bogdanova, PhD student, Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;

    Project Coordinator: Nayden Prahov, PhD in Archaeology, Program Director of the Balkan Heritage Foundation and Expert Archaeologist at the National Centre for Underwater Archaeology, Ministry of Culture.

    Instructors, Trainers and Area Supervisors:

    • Dragomir Garbov  (PhD Candidate in Archaeology), Department of Archaeology, New Bulgarian University and Expert Archaeologist at the National Centre for Underwater Archaeology, Ministry of Culture.
    • Alexander Manev  (PhD Candidate in Archaeology), Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
    • Matthew Schueller - Balkan Heritage Affiliated Archaeologist; PhD Student in Classical Archaeology at UNC Chapel Hill, USA;   
    • Daniela Cherneva (PhD in Archaeological Conservation and Restoration), Senior Conservator at the Central Laboratory for Conservation Treatment and Restoration, National Museum of History.



      Lectures (L), Workshops (W), Guided Tours (GT) and Field Instructions & Trainings (FIT):

      • History of Greek Colonisation of the Western Black Sea Coast (seventh - fifth century BC) (L);
      • History of Apollonia Pontica in Antiquity (seventh century BC - sixth century AD)(L);
      • Technology, Typology and Chronology of Ancient Greek and Hellenistic pottery with examples from Apollonia Pontica (L);
      • The Island Sveti "Kirk and Yulita" during the Archaic Period (L);
      • Ancient Greek Cemeteries and Funeral Rites with Examples from the Western Black Sea Coast (L);
      • Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation (FIT);
      • Introduction to the Field Journal; Contextual Sheets, Log Book and Other Forms (FIT);
      • Use of Tools and Working Techniques (FIT);
      • Three Dimensional Positioning of Finds, Features and Structures (L);
      • How to Use a Dumpy Level? (FIT);
      • Stratigraphy: Horizontal and Vertical and Chronology (L);
      • Field Graphic and Photographic Documentation:
        • Scale-drawing of: Ground-plan/Elevetion-plan/Cross-section  (FIT);
        • Photography for Archaeologists (FIT);
      • Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research (L);
      • Field Reconnaissance Survey. Geophysical (Electrical and Magnetic) Methods in Archaeological Reconnaissance Survey (L);
      • Excavation Completion. Post Excavation Work and Analyses. Excavation and Reconnaissance Survey Report (L); 
      • Basic Principles of Finds Processing (W);
      • Artefact Recording and Illustration in Archaeology: Pottery shards (W);
      • Guided tour of Sozopol. Visit to the Archaeological Museum (GT).
      • Guided tour of Nesebar. Visit to the Archaeological Museum (GT).

      Only for students in the three-week session (3) and the two project sessions (1&2)
      • Workshop for analyzing, recording and illustration of archaeological artifacts (esp. Ancient Greek pottery)(W series);
      • Guided tour of the megalithic complex of Begliktash (GT).


      Only for students in the two project sessions (1&2)

      • Conservation of Ancient Pottery (W).

        THE AGENDA:

        First day
        By 7.00 pm - Arrival and check-in. Registration.
        8.00 - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian welcome dinner.

        A pick-up may be arranged from Burgas and Varna airports, train or bus stations upon request.

        Second day

        Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and colaborative universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking. Town sightseeing and orientation walk.

        During the second session participants who join either session 3 or two project sessions will follow the agenda concerning regular working days.

        Working days

        6.30 - 7.10 am - Breakfast
        7.10 - 7.30 am - Walk to the excavation site;
        7.30 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork, including 30 min break*
        1.00 - 5.30 pm - Lunch and Siesta break
        5.30 - 6.30/7.30  pm - Lectures/Workshops /Lab work
        8.00 - 9.00 pm - Dinner

        * in rare cases of rain, the project envisions finds' processing, workshops, lectures and film projections

        Lectures and workshops in the area of Ancient Greek History and Archaeology/Finds processing

        BHFS team could organize/assist organization of various leisure activities for participants during their free time such as visiting beaches and sites, clubbing, attending cultural events etc.




        Saturday: Visit to the ancient coastal city of Nesebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site).*

        Sunday: Day off

        * Participants who join either session 3 or two project sessions will visit the megalithic complex of Begliktash



        session 1 and 2

        Days off for participants who join either session 3 or two project session.

        Optional leisure activities: boating, sailing, fishing, scuba diving etc.

        Last day

        Departure.Check-out by 11.30 am.

        A drop-off may be arranged from Sozopol to the airports in Burgas  and Varna upon request.



        Accommodation and Food: Accomodation is either at the Dom Mladenovi guest house of the VMK military club, both of which have comfortable rooms with ensuite. with two to three beds, bathrooms with shower and WC, equipped with air-conditioning, refrigerators, TV and Internet  and located very close to the town beaches, the Old Town Quarter, the Archaeological Museum and within 15 min walking distance from the archaeological site. Wi-Fi is available on the first floor of the hotel. Staying an extra day costs 27 EUR. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee of 150 EUR per week. For those who prefer higher class accommodation, the BHFS would recommend to make reservations with the following hotels in Sozopol: Hotel Casa del Mare and Hotel Fiesta. All participants who organize and pay extra for their own accommodation will receive a discount of 75 EUR (per week) off the admission fee. Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) in a local tavern. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. All participants who prefer to organize and pay extra for their own food will receive a discount of 75 EUR (per week) off the admission fee.
        Free time: Guided visits of Sozopol and Nesebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) including their archaeological museums will be organized for all field school participants. Participants in session 3 and the two project sessions (1&2) will visit also the megalithic complex of Begliktash and the beach nearby. The above mentioned trips are covered by the admission fee. During the summer Sozopol offers a lot of opportunities for sports and entertainment. Possible leisure activities during the siesta and days off in and around Sozopol are: swimming, sunbathing, beach sports including surfing, visiting local beaches and tourist (natural and heritage) sites, scuba diving, fishing, sailing & boating, attending cultural events and concerts, seeing movies in an outdoor cinema or just shopping.

        Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take trips to some worth seeing historical sites and towns nearby. The BHFS encourages participants in the current project to join after the field school the optional 5-day excursion to Istanbul, Turkey (340 km/ 215 mi from Sozopol) organized by GoBalkans Ltd (Bulgarian travel agency) only for project participants. Look-up at other suggested travel ideas before/after the field school!



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

        SUPER EARLY BIRD SPECIAL by November 30, 2014 (includes 15% discount off the admission fees)!

        Super Early Bird Admission fee for either session 1 or session 2 is 1189 EUR* / app.1529 USD - SAVE 210 EUR / 280 USD (check current exchange rates!)

        Super Early Bird Admission fee for session 3 is 1784 EUR* / app. 2299 USD -SAVE 315 EUR / 410 USD (check current exchange rates!)

        Super Early Bird Admission fee for two project sessions (1 & 2) is 2378 EUR* / app. 3229 USD - SAVE 280 EUR / 365 USD (check current exchange rates!)


        REGULAR Admission Fee after November 30, 2014:

        The regular admission fee for either session 1 or session 2 is 1399 EUR* (app.1799 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

        The regular admission fee for session 3 is 2099 EUR* (app. 2728 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

        The regular admission fee for two project sessions (1 & 2) is 2658 EUR* (app. 3419 USD. (Includes 5% discount for participation in 2 sessions). Check current exchange rates!

        * All participants who are willing to organize either their food or accommodation or both separately, outside the project package, will receive a discount of 75 EUR per weeks (for each) and 150 EUR per week (for both) off the regular admission fee! For instance, if Your admission fee for two-week session is 1189 EUR (the Super Early bird) and you prefer to organize and pay extra for your food and accommodation oustide the project package, your admission fee will be reduced to 889 EUR (app.1149 USD).

        Admission fee transfer options (for further information contact Admissions Office at

          - Bank transfer
        On-line transfers  



        5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:

        1. Participation in more than 1 BHFS project or project session in 2015. (5% discount is valid for all projects/sessions to be attended).
        2. Membership in the Archaeological Institute of America.

        10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:

        1. Participation in any BHFS project/s in the past.

        12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:

        1. Group Participation (three or more people, who participate together in one project session in 2015 (the discount is valid for each participant)

        15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available in case of:

        1. Group Participation (three or more people, who participate together in more than one BHFS project or project session in 2015 (the discount is valid for each participant for all projects/ sessions to be attended).
        2. BHFS alumni, who participate in more than one BHFS project or project session in 2015. (15% discount is valid only for the second, third etc. project/session to be attended).
        3. BHFS alumni, who participated successfully in at least two sessions of this project in the past.


        For more information about scholarships, low-cost flights, hotels, etc. please feel free to contact us or look at our recommended links at: