Balkan heritage projects 2013: BIRTH OF EUROPE - EXCAVATIONS OF THE EARLY NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT ILINDENTSI
Project type: field school (excavations)
THE PROJECT IS SUITABLE FOR BOTH BEGINNERS AND ADVANCED IN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY!
Site/s: Prehistoric settlement near Ilindentsi, Southwestern Bulgaria.
Period(s) of occupation: Early and Middle Balkan Neolithic (6200 - 5500 BC)
The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 150 km) and Thessaloniki (Greece, 170 km) - don't forget checking the low cost flight options! If participants arrive at the Sofia airport, a transfer to Ilindentsi may be arranged by request (Please, specify this in your application form!). Individual or group transfers’ price may vary depending on number of passengers from 30 to 90 EUR.
Travel/access to the site: The village of Ilindentsi is located in the foothills of Pirin mountain (UNESCO World Heritage Site), in Southwestern Bulgaria. Direct bus lines connect Ilindentsi with the village of Strumyani (bus stop and train station, 3 km away from Ilindentsi) and the town of Sandanski (bus and train station, 16 km away from Ilindentsi) - both located on the road E-79 in the Struma River Valley. Strumyani may be reached by both bus and train from Sofia (Bulgaria) and by bus (stop only upon request) from Thessaloniki (Greece).
Description: In the seventh millenium BC the Balkan Peninsula was a gate through which farming, animal husbandry and generally Neolithisation spread to Europe from Anatolia and the Near East. Central parts of the Balkans were among the most important migration routes during that period. Six Early Neolithic settlements are mapped there, in the Middle Struma River Valley, on the natural road that connects the Eastern Mediterranean with the Central Europe. One of them is the prehistoric site near Ilindentsi. At this site the prehistoric cultural layer lies immediately (10 to 20 cm) under the topsoil humus, which has significantly facilitated the excavation process. During the previous seasons at the site (2004-2009, 2011-2012) archaeologists unearthed mainly Early Neolithic settlement structures and features (remains of dwellings with specific floor construction and under-floor drainage systems and one burnt dwelling with well preserved in situ "kitchen-space" including an oven, grain-store and quern-stone). The culture layer (app. 0,70-1.00 m thick throughout the excavated surface) was rich with artifacts such as white on red painted pottery, anthropomorphic clay figurines, stone and bone tools and jewels all of which are dated to the first half of 6th millenium BC. In 2010 a geomagnetic survey of the site was performed and a geomagnetic map of the site was created. In consequence the excavated area was extended in 2011 and 2012 to search for the reasons for geomagnetic anomalies on the map. In one of these recent dig trenches beside the structures many Middle Neolithic (5600-5400 BC) artifacts were found which is the first evidence of horizontal stratigraphy at the site.
Although the possibility for acculturation of indigenious population can not be completely disregarded at this stage, scholars assume that the Neolithic settlement near Ilindentsi was established by groups of people, coming from the earliest and the largest Early Neolithic settlement in the Valley, found near the village of Kovachevo. Thank to the results of a 20-year long Bulgarian-French Excavation Project in Kovachevo there is abundant evidence showing that the first inhabitants of that settlement were people of Anatolian origin. These migration patterns that traced the routes of European Neolithisation had various and complex reasons: increased population, limited environmental resources, climate change etc.
The excavation project at Ilindentsi aims to seek more detailed answers of the following questions, which are important for Balkan and European Prehistory:
The BIRTH OF EUROPE 2013 Project envisions further excavation of the Neolithic structures and their surroundings. Two field school sessions are available in 2013, and each includes following three modules: fieldwork including maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling 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 Prehistoric and Field Archaeology as well as Finds' processing and Documentation and excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region including Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, the medieval town of Melnik and Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (refer to the Course description and Field School agenda!).
Participants who join the two project sessions are going to have a different schedule during the second session, which includes:
All participants will receive:
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! For details please read the BHFS Regulations for obtaining ToR!
Archaeological context: The Neolithic settlement in Ilindentsi, Bulgaria corresponds chronologically (5600 - 5500/5400 BC) to other Balkan, Anatolian and Near Eastern sites and cultures such as: Karanovo I (Eastern Balkans), Achilleon (Southern Balkans), Hacilar VI-I (Anatolia).
Affiliation: Balkan Heritage Field School/Foundation, Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria), Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre (France)
Dig Director: Dr. Malgorzata Grebska-Kulova (archaeologist and curator at Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History)
Project Coordinator: Ivan Vasilev (archaeologist, Balkan Heritage)Sessions' dates:
Field school session 1: 15 - 29 June, 2013
Field school session 2: 30 June - 14 July, 2013
Application Deadlines: until the places are filled, or latest 15 May, 2013
Minimum length of stay for volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)
Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 20
Instructors and trainers: Dr. Malgorzata Grebska-Kulova (archaeologist and curator at Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, Bulgaria); Petar Zidarov (archaeologist; deputy director of the Laboratory for Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology, New Bulgarian University; PhD student at Eberhard Karls University, Tübingen, Germany); Dr. Laure Salanova, Dr. Julien Viege (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre, France), Ivan Vasilev (Balkan Heritage archaeologist, MA in Archaeology)
Lectures, workshops and field trainings:
Designing of archaeological research
Field and graphic documentation
Environmental, historical and cultural context of the site
Room and Board arrangements: in rooms with two to four beds (bathrooms with shower and WC) in a local guest house. There is a cheap laundry service available. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee.
Free time: Guided visits to Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, medieval town of Melnik and Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) are organized for all field school participants. The village offers great opportunities for mountain hikes, walks in the Art Center Ilindentsi and wine-tasting of local wines. Optional 2-day trip to Philippi, Kavala and the Aegean coast in Greece is provided for all field school participants between the first and the second session for an extra fee of 140 EUR. It is:
The Admission fee includes 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.
EARLY REGISTRATION BY JANUARY 31st, 2013:
The Early bird admission fee for 1 project session is 1124 EUR (app.1400 USD Check current exchange rates!).
The Early bird admission fee for 2 project sessions is 2248 EUR (app. 2660 USD Check current exchange rates!)
REGISTRATION AFTER JANUARY 31st, 2013
The regular admission fee for 1 project session is 1249 EUR (app.1550 USD. Check current exchange rates!)
The regular admission fee for 2 project sessions is 2373 EUR / app. 2900 USD (including 5% discount for participation in 2 project sessions!). Check current exchange rates!)
Admission fee transfer options (for further information contact Admissions Office at firstname.lastname@example.org):
DISCOUNTS OFF THE REGULAR ADMISSION FEE:
NOTE, 5% OF EVERY ADMISSION FEE FOR THIS PROJECT DIRECTLY SUPPORTS THE BALKAN HERITAGE PROTECTION FUND’S ACTIVITIES!