Balkan heritage FIELD SCHOOL project (COURSE) 2015:




Project type: field school (workshop). The variety of activities and team flexibility make this project suitable for both Beginners and Advanced (either volunteers or students) in conservation.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN EVEN MORE COMPREHENISVE EXPERIENCE WITH CONSERVATION OF ROMAN ARTIFACTS, PLEASE SEE ALSO THE Workshop for Conservation and Documentation of Roman Mosaics and Mural Paintings (6 - 27 June, 2015)!

Period(s) in focus: Roman, Late Roman/Early Byzantine (Second century BC - Sixth century AD)


The Nearest Airports: Skopje, Macedonia (80 km) and Thessaloniki, Greece (160 km)  - don't forget to check the low cost  flight options! ! If participants arrive by plane to these airports, a transfer to Stobi may be arranged by request. Individual or group transfers' price may vary depending on both distance and number of passengers from 30 to 110 EUR.

How to get there? Stobi is located in the center of the Republic of Macedonia. It can be easily accessed by: 1. travelling by bus or car on the highway E-75 (from Athens, Greece to Belgrade, Serbia and Central Europe  across Macedonia) - the highway exit STOBI is just in front of the site's entrance; 2. catching a bus/train from Skopje (Macedonia), Thessaloniki (Greece) - the stop is at Gradsko (5 km. away from Stobi), from there participants/visitors could get a taxi to Stobi or request a free pick-up available from 9.00 am to 7.00 pm on the arrival day (please ask for details); 3. from neighbouring towns of Negotino (15 km) and Kavadartsi (20 km) participants could get on a bus to Gradsko or on a taxi directly to Stobi.

Dates: 6 - 20 June 2015 

Application Deadlines: 1 May, 2015

Minimum length of stay for volunteers: Two weeks

Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 12
Language: English
Experience required: No
Special requirements: Good physical condition and command of manual operations. The average summer temperatures in the area are 25-38 C or higher. All participants should bring clothes and cosmetics suitable for hot and sunny weather,  although the weather in June might be sometimes chilly. It is recommended that participants bring their laptops having at least 5 GB free disk space and a mouse. Operation system recommended: Windows XP or newer, Mac OSX or newer.

THE WORKSHOP: In 2015 the WORKSHOP FOR CONSERVATION AND DOCUMENTATION OF ROMAN AND LATE ROMAN MOSAICS will be hosted for the 4th time by the National Institution Stobi, Macedonia at the Roman city of Stobi (nowadays an archaeological park).It provides an unique opportunity for students and volunteers  to gain comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experience in Roman (esp. Late Roman) Mosaic Art and Conservation.

Approximately 1560 square meters of the excavated territory of the ancient city of Stobi are covered with entirely or partly preserved mosaics, dated mainly between the second and sixth century AD. Most of them were discovered in the public or residential  Roman and Late Roman buildings at the site: the Episcopal Basilica, the Extramural Basilica, the Theodossian Palace, the Synagogue II, the "Casino", the House of Peristeria and the House of Polycharmos. Variations of geometric, floral and animal motifs are represented in the most popular ancient mosaic techniques: opus tesselatum, opus sectile as well as opus barbaricum and opus vermiculatum.
The first preventive conservation of a part of the mosaics in Stobi started  in the 1930s and continued sporadically in the following decades. Nowadays many of the mosaics require urgent conservation and preservation due to the damages caused by the weather and lack of proper and constant maintenance in the past decades. In 2009, NI Stobi started a long-term program for  complete conservation and exhibition of the mosaics at Stobi. Each Balkan Heritage Workshop for Conservation and Documentation of Roman Mosaics contributes to this program and facilitates significantly the conservation of at least one of the endangered mosaics!

The field school project was first initiated in 2012 and in 2012-2013 focused on conservation of floor mosaics in the Theodossian Palace which were successfully conserved and exposed in situ. In 2014 the project moved on to conservation of one of the mosaics discovered in the Episcopal Basilica, considered to be the oldest and most important Early Christian buildings in the Republic of Macedonia. For the following season 2015 the participants in the project will be involved in the full conservation of another floor mosaic from the same building. 


The Episcopal Basilica of Stobi has several construction phases dated between the 4th and the late 6th century AD (See the plan above!). The two major construction phases of the Episcopal Basilica are clearly visible in the plan, architecture, wall paintings and the mosaic floor decoration of the edifice. During the first phase the floor of the nave was covered by a colorful mosaic in opus tessalatum with dominant geometric and floral motifs and two central frames containing the initials of Jesus Christ (in Greek) and a medallion with a Christological message to all believers who visit the church. Later, around 360 - 370 AD, the first ecclesiastic edifice was reconstructed and extended to the east by bishop Eusthatius, who is mentioned as the commissioner of the reconstruction in the mosaic in front of the new altar. On the mosaic his name was written over a splendid kantharos symbolizing the Source of Life.  In the second half of the 5th century AD on top of the Old basilica was built a new three - aisled basilica commissioned by Bishop Philip. The floors in the nave, the south aisle and the narthex as well as many of the walls were adorned with mosaics. The magnificent one that covered the floor of the baptistery (the end of the 5th - beginning of the 6th century AD) illustrates the 41st psalm of David with two alternated presentations of peacocks and deers around a kantharos.



During the workshop participants will be guided through the consequent stages of study, conservation, restoration and  documentation as well as the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman mosaics. They will work with either authentic Late Roman mosaic fragments or on an original Late Roman mosaic floor in situ located/found in the ancient city of Stobi!
The project includes three modules: practical work in documentation and conservation of Roman mosaics; lectures and trainings  on mosaic history and conservation as well as excursions to the town of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Refer to the Course Program and Agenda!

By the end of the workshop the participants will:

  • be introduced to the basic methods for documentation and conservation of ancient mosaics;
  • learn about the history and techniques of Roman (esp. Late Roman) mosaics;
  • be able to develop basic/further practical skills (depending on the participant's initial level of qualification) in ancient mosaic conservation and documentation;
  • deepen their knowledge through a first-hand experience of the Roman History and Archaeology;
  • meet professionals who work in the areas of Classical Archaeology and Archaeological and Art Conservation.
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 academic credits to students for participation in the project. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee! 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT: The historical references and archaeological excavations provide an evidence of continuous occupation of Stobi rooting to the Archaic (sixth century BC) and Classical period (fifth-fourth century BC). The first historic records that mention Stobi are by the Roman historian Titus Livy, and concern the period of the second century BC, when (in 197 BC) the Macedonian king Philip V defeated the Dardanians in the vicinity of Stobi. According to Livy, after the Roman conquests of Macedonia, Stobi became an important center for salt trading. In 69 AD Empreror Vespasian granted Stobi the rank of municipium and the right to mint its own coins. Salt trading and the strategic position between two rivers on the cross-road of the ancient road along the Vardar valley and the branches of Via Diagonalis and Via Egnatia, brought to the city long-term prosperity between the first and the third centuries AD. Several monumental buildings in Stobi are dated to this period: the Theater, the first City Wall, the Gate of Heraclea, part of the Forum Romanorum, Casa Romana, the Synagogue and the water supply system. In 267/269 AD the city suffered from raids by Goths and Herules. After their devastating attacks, Stobi was rebuilt, but following a different urban model. Most of the ruins visible today belong to buildings dated to this period. In the fourth century AD Stobi became an important Christian center and seat of mighty bishops. In the fifth and sixth century, Stobi was the capital city of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda, but suffered from the raids of Huns, Ostrogoths, Avars and Slavs. An earthquake in 518 AD marked the beginning of the end of urban life in Stobi. Some records mention a small Slav community that settled and lived here in later centuries. The last historical reference regarding Stobi is about the victory of the Byzantine troops over the military crew of Stobi in the eleventh century AD.

Collaborative Universities & Institutions: The  Balkan Heritage Foundation,  National Institution Stobi and New Bulgarian University.



Project Director: Silvana Blazhevska (Director of NI Stobi, archaeologist).
Project Coordinators:
  • Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage archaeologist; PhD student in Classic Archaeology at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany);
  • Mishko Tutkovski (Conservator, NI Stobi).
Chief conservator: Dragan Vergoski (Senior Conservator, National Conservation Centre of Macedonia).

Other instructors and activity supervisors:
  • Tome Filov (Conservator, NI Stobi);
  • Dimitar Nikolovski (archaeologist, NI Stobi).


Lectures (L), Workshops (W) and Guided Tours (GT):
  • History of Stobi and Macedonia in the Roman and Late Roman period (second century BC - sixth century AD) (L);
  • Introduction to the Floor Mosaics from Stobi: History and Techniques (L);
  • Review of Basic Methods and Techniques in  Mosaic Conservation (L);
  • Mosaics from Macedonia (4th - 6th cent. AD) (L);
  • Preliminary Initial Report:  Description of the Mosaic Technique, Technology and Mosaic Condition (W);
  • Initial Mosaic Documentation: Drawing 1:1, Photo Documentation, Digital Technical Documentation, Documenting Mosaic Damage (W);
  • Consolidation of the Mosaic's Front Side (W);
  • Consolidation of the Mosaic's Back Side (W);
  • Chemical and Mechanical Cleaning of the Mosaic's Surface (W);
  • Set up on a New Carrier (W);
  • Chemical and Mechanical Cleaning of the Mosaic's Surface (W);
  • Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis (GT);
  • Ohrid (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (GT).



First day

Arrival in Stobi by 7.00 pm* - Registration and check-in. Traditional welcome dinner. Orientation walk in Gradsko and town(s) nearby

*Participants, who travel by bus/train will be picked up from Gradsko bus/railway station. Pick-up transfer from one of the nearest airports: Skopje (Macedonia) and Thessaloniki (Greece) is available upon request!

Second day

Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Foundation and Field School, the National Institution Stobi, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking game. Sightseeing of the archaeological site of Stobi

Afternoon: LECTURES

Working days


7.50 - 8.30 am - Breakfast

8. 30 am - 1.00 pm - WORKSHOPS/LECTURES, with 30-min break*

1.00 - 4.00 pm - Lunch and siesta break

4.00 - 7.30 pm - WORKSHOPS/LECTURES 

8.00 - 9.00 pm - Dinner

The WORKSHOPS and LECTURES cover different aspects of the ancient mosaic conservation, restoration and documentation methods and practices.

During the evenings the project team could organize or assist participants in organizing leisure activities such as films, sports and visits to the neighboring towns/villages.




Guided visit of Ohrid and the Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Guided visit of the Old Town Quarter of Bitola and the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis



Last Working day

7.50 - 8.30 am - Breakfast

8. 30 am - 1.00 pm - WORKSHOPS/LECTURES with 30-min break*

1.00 - 8.00 pm - Lunch and free afternoon (optional visit to the towns nearby)

8.00 pm - .....- International evening (dinner and farewell party)


Departure day


Departure after breakfast

Drop-off to either Skopje (Macedonia) or Thessaloniki (Greece) airports is available upon request!


Room and Board arrangements: Participants will be accommodated in the recently renovated air-conditioned cabins at the archaeological base next to the ancient ruins of Stobi, in rooms with two to three beds. Every cabin has 4 bedrooms + living room, 2 bathrooms with showers and WC. A washing machine and Wi-Fi are available for free. Three meals (fresh, homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) at the base's premises. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted.
Free time: Films, sport games and visits to the neighbouring towns/villages are the options for the free time in the evenings. Guided visits to the town of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site) will be organized for all field school participants and are covered by the admission fee.
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 visit after the field school either Athens, Greece (650 km/400 mi) or Sofia, Bulgaria (300 km/190 mi). The BHFS can assist the participants who plan to organize their own trips with trip advices and recommendations, accommodation and tickets reservations, by providing historical information about the sites to be visited, arranging travel insurance and other tips. With our help these excursions could be cheap, easy, safe and pleasant. Look-up at other suggested travel ideas before/after the field school!

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

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL by Jan 31st, 2015 ( SAVE app. 150 EUR / 200 USD ):

The Early Bird Admission fee for the Project is 1286 EUR (app.1719 USD. Check current exchange rates!).

REGULAR Admission Fee after Jan 31st, 2015:

The regular admission fee for the Project is 1429 EUR (app.1919 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

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).