SUPER EARLY BIRD SPECIAL available for this project by November 30, 2014 - see details below!

Project type: field school (excavations). The variety of activities and team flexibility make this project suitable for both Beginners and Advanced in Field Archaeology. 


Site: Prehistoric tell next to the village of Yunatsite, Southern Bulgaria.

Period(s) of occupation: Chalcolithic (or Copper age, 4900 - 4100 BC) - IN THE PROJECT'S FOCUS, Early Bronze Age (3100-2200 BC), Iron Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages.
Project Venue: in a comfortable hotel in the district town of Pazardzhik, Southern Bulgaria. The fieldwork during the work days will involve travel to the site (8 km away from Pazardzhik) and the transport will be arranged by the Balkan Heritage Field School (BHFS).

The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 90 km) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria, 40 km) - don't forget checking the low cost  flight options! If participants arrive at the one of these airports, a transfer to the project venue in Pazardzhik 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 25 to 100 EUR. Ask for details!

How to get there?: The town of Pazardzhik is located in Thrace, Southern Bulgaria. It may be reached by both bus and train from Sofia (app. 1-1 1/2  h) and Plovdiv (app. 30-45 min).


Field school session 1: 12 - 26 July, 2015
Field school session 2: 26 July - 9 August, 2015
Application Deadlines: until the places are filled, or latest 10 June, 2015
Minimum length of stay: Two weeks
Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 16
Language: English
Experience required: No
Special requirements: The project is 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 28-38 C or higher. All participants should bring clothes and cosmetics suitable for hot and sunny weather. 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.



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. App. 1000 years later in the very beginning of the fifth millennium BC prehistoric population in Central and Eastern Balkans turned known metal-processing technologies into an industry for the first time in human history (the World most ancient copper mines are found near Mechi kladenets/Aybunar near Stara Zagora, Bulgaria and Rudna glava, Serbia). Archaeological evidence shows that in the fifth millennium BC these prehistoric cultures enjoyed a constant raise of population and wealth meanwhile experiencing social stratification due the intensive trade with metal products, salt and other goods with the rest of prehistoric Europe and Asia. These Balkan Copper age cultures had all characteristics of the first civilizations including: the very first urban settlements in Europe (Tell Yunatsite, Tell Durankulak and Tell Provadia in Bulgaria), dense network of settlements, "industrial" proportions of production of goods, esp. metal products and salt, developed trade, distinguished social and professional stratification, pictograms and characters interpreted by some scholars as the World's oldest script (Gradeshnitsa tablet for instance dates back to the sixth or early fifth millennium BC) as well as precious artifacts made of gold, pottery, bone and stone (the World oldest gold treasure found in the Varna Copper age necropolis). This very first civilization in Europe was Pre-Indo-European and emerged for not more a millennium covering large parts of the Balkans, NW Anatolia and Eastern Europe. It collapsed around the end of the fifth millennium under the pressure of both drastic climatic changes and invasion of Early Indo-Europeans. The period of study of this very first civilization in Europe has been quite short - about 40 years have passed, since the excavation of the Varna Copper age necropolis brought to light the first certain evidences about its existence. Nowadays scholars from all over the World are still discovering new facts and adding new data about the "lost" first civilization in Europe.

Tell Yunatsite is located in the fields next to the Bulgarian village of Yunatsite, NW Thrace. Its diameter is app. 110 m and its maximal height of 12 m above the modern surface. The tell was excavated for the first time in 1939 by Bulgarian archaeologist Vasil Mikov. The result was a 12 meter-deep trench known also as the Vasil Mikov's trench in the eastern part of the tell that did not reach its base but significantly contributed to the interpretation of tell's stratgraphy and history. However, regular excavations of the site did not start before 1976, when the archaeological project was initiated by the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In the course of time the project was joined by Soviet and Greek excavation teams. So far one third of the tell's surface has been excavated in its eastern part, still without reaching the sterile layers. The tell is topped by a medieval cemetery, ruins of a Roman fort and two layers from the Early Iron Age followed in depth by a thick Early Bronze age layer (3100-2200 cal. BC) with 17 building levels and a sterile layer (hiatus) that separates the EBA layer and the Copper age layer. Under all these sequences is found the 4 m thick Chalcolithic layer.

In 2006 archaeologists discovered by excavating numerous test pits and trenches in the area around the tell that the actual size of the Copper age settlement was far larger (having a diameter of 400 m or surface of app. 100 000 sq.m) than the tell and comprised of two areas separated (around 4750 cal. BC) by a cob five meter wide wall and ditch (2 meter deep and 6 meter wide): the larger downtown and the uptown (acropolis) at the tell. The earliest artifacts from these pits and trenches date 4900 cal. BC and mark either the establishment or extension of the prehistoric settlement. Inside the fortified uptown the buildings were placed close to each other because of the limited area. Thus the accumulation of the layer was faster than in the downtown and as a result the tell was rising gradually above the surrounding surface. The Copper age settlement was destroyed by invaders around 4200-4100 cal. BC. Among the ruins of the last Chalcolithic horizon are found the skeletons of its last inhabitants (mainly children and elderly men and women): a testimony of a cruel massacre. Those who survived returned and resettled for a while the devastated settlement but soon even they left it and Tell Yunatsite was abandoned for more than 1000 years. During this period a 0,45 meter-thick hiatus (sterile layer) covered most of the Chalcolithic layer.

Unlike the excavations in 1970 - 1990s (dealing with exploration of upper layers) recent excavations uncover mainly the Chalcolithic layers of the tell. They help archaeologist to study the Copper age fortification and the inner parts of the uptown. The recent finding of an wooden platform (probably a floor of a burnt building), that collapsed vertically along with numerous artifacts, that once stood on it, onto the walls of the huge pit under it, seems to be a very rare occurrence in archaeological practice.


THE FIELD SCHOOL: The RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN "CIVILIZATION" 2015 PROJECT will continue exploring in depth the earliest stages of tell's history through excavation of the Vasil Mikov's trench (app. 300 sq.m. excavations that took place there in 1939 were restarted in 2012) and esp. the Copper age structures there: foundations of dwellings, collapsed roofs and walls, amazingly well preseved Chalcolithic wooden flooring and a high number of ovens. During the small-scale excavations of the Mikov's trench from 2012 to 2014 the BHFS  archaeologists and students found numerous artifacts such as weapons, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, Spondylus jewels, decorated fineware pottery, shards marked by characters/pictograms). All of them belong to the three earliest tell building levels excavated so far. The site provides an amazing opportunity for all field school participants to dig at a real tell  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 Copper age inhabitants of Tell Yunatsite.


The project sessions available in 2015 include the following three modules: 1.fieldwork including excavation, 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; 2.lectures, workshops and field trainings in Prehistoric and Field Archaeology, Finds' processing and Documentation as well as 3.excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region such as the Pazardzhik Museum and the ancient town of Plovdiv.

The participants who join the two project sessions (1&2) will be able to  develop further their skills and competences regarding the field work and finds processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures, workshops and an excursion to Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings. (refer to the Course Program and Agenda!).

Optional tour of Troy and Istanbul (Turkey) is available for all students after the field school (9-13 August, 2015).

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 and 9 credits for participation in two sessions. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details please read the BHFS Regulations for obtaining ToR!

Archaeological context: The Chalcolithic (Copper age) period in Tell Yunatsite, Bulgaria corresponds chronologically (4900 - 4100 BC) to other European and Near Eastern sites and cultures such as: Varna, Kodzadermen-Gumelnita-Karanovo VI (Eastern Balkans), Krivodol-Salcuta-Bubanj hum (Central and Northern Balkans), Dimini (Southern Balkans), Early Cucuteni-Trypillian culture (Eastern Europe), Ubaid period (Mesopotamia).
Collaborative Universities & Institutions: The  Balkan Heritage Foundation; Tell Yunatsite Exacavation Team: National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History; New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).


  • Ass. Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
  • Asst. Prof. Kamen Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology)Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;



50 hours of fieldwork per session; 

25 hours of Lectures (L), Workshops (W), Guided Tours (GT) and Field Instructions & Trainings (FIT) during the first session:   


  • Rise and Fall of the Europe's Earliest Civilization in the Fifth Millennium BC (L);
  • Tell Yunatsite: Environment, History and Excavations (L);
  • Warfare in Prehistory (L);
  • From the Field to the Storage: Review of Basic Methods for Uncovering, "First Aid", Consolidation in Situ, Cleaning, Sorting, Labeling, Documenting and Storing Ceramic Artifacts (L);
  • Artifact Recording and Illustration: Prehistoric Pottery (W);
  • Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation (FIT);
  • Use of Tools and Working Techniques (FIT);
  • Introduction to the Field Journal; Contextual Sheets, Log Book and Other Forms (FIT);
  • Three Dimensional Positioning of Finds, Features and Structures (L);
  • How to Use a Dumpy Level? (FIT);
  • Stratigraphy: Horizontal and Vertical (L);
  • Field Graphic and Photographic Documentation:
    • How to Draw a Ground-plan/Elevetion-plan/Cross-section Using Scale (FIT);
    • Photography for Archaeologists (FIT);
  • Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research (L);
  • Field Reconnaissance Survey. Geophysical (Electrical and Magnetic) Methods in Archaeological Reconnaissance Survey (L);
  • Finds Processing and Flotation of Soil Samples (W);
  • History of Pazardzhik (GT);
  • History and Archaeology of Plovdiv (GT).

Only for students in the two project sessions (1&2): 25 hours of Lectures (L), Workshops (W), Guided Tours (GT) and Field Instructions & Trainings (FIT) during the second session:   

  • Urbanism in Prehistory - Copper age settlement patterns from Bulgaria(L);
  • Technology of Production of Metal, Stone and Bone Tools during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper age) Period in Europe(L); 
  • Dating Methods for Prehistoric Sites (L);
  • History and Archaeology of Stara Zagora (GT).
  • Artifact Recording and Illustration: Stone and Bone Artifacts (W);
  • Finds Processing and Flotation of Soil Samples (W).

    First Day
    Arrival and check-in at the hotel in Pazardzhik by 7.00 pm 
    8.00 - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian welcome dinner.

    A pick-up may be arranged from the  Sofia and Plovdiv airports upon request.

    Second Day

    Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and colaborative universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking.

    Afternoon: Orientation walk around the downtown Pazardzhik. Visit of the Pazardzhik Museum. Lectures.

    Day-off during the second project session for participants, who join the two project sessions.
    Working days

    6.15 - 6.30 am - Travel to the site.

    6.30 am - 8.30 am - Fieldwork*

    8.30-9.00 am - Breakfast at the site.

    9.00-11.00 am - Fieldwork*

    11.00-11.15 am - Break

    11.15 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork*

    1.00-5.00 pm - Lunch and Siesta break

    5.00-8.00 pm - Lectures/Workshops/Finds processing **

    8.00-9.00 pm - Dinner

    * In rare cases of rain, the project envisions substitute activities including finds processing workshops and film projections at the hotel

    ** Lectures and workshops in the area of Prehistory and Field Archaeology




    Saturday: Visit to the ancient town of Plovdiv -   European capital of Culture 2019

    Participants who join the two project sessions will visit Stara Zagora and and its supurb Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings during the second session.



    Sunday: Day off

    Optional excursions to historical sites and towns in North-western Thrace (Bulgaria) 

    Days between

    session 1 and 2

    Days off

    Optional excursions to historical sites and towns in North-western Thrace (Bulgaria)  


    Last Day

    Departure. Check-out by 12.30 pm

    A drop-off may be arranged to the airports  in Sofia and Plovdiv upon request.

    The project hotel - main building, Pazardzhik

    An old house in Pazardzhik

    Old Town Quarter, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    The Roman Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    At the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History.



    Accommodation and Food: in comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi) in a downtown-hotel Primavera in Pazardzhik. There is a cheap laundry service available at the site. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Staying an extra day at the hotel costs 30 EUR. Single rooms are available upon request for the supplement of 150 EUR per week.
    Free time:  The town of Pazardzhik and its surroundings offers a variety of opportunities for good entertainment, sightseeing, sports, wine-tasting and shopping. Guided visits to the Archaeological Museum, Roman monuments and the Old Town Quarter of Plovdiv will be organized for all field school participants. Participants in the two project sessions (1&2) will visit also Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings.

    Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursions to worth seeing historical sites and towns in North-western Thrace (Bulgaria)during the  field school and Istanbul and Troy (Turkey) on 9-13 August, 2015. 

    Look-up at other suggested travel ideas before/after the field school!



    The Admission fee includes educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, full-board accommodation (including three meals per day), 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 one project session is 1104 EUR / app.1419 USD*.  SAVE 195 EUR / 260 USD* 

    Super Early Bird Admission fee for for two project sessions is 2208 EUR / app.2849 USD*.   SAVE 260 EUR / 340 USD*

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL December 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015 (includes 10% discount off the admission fees)!

    Early Bird Admission fee for one project session is 1169 EUR / app.1479 USD*.   SAVE 130 EUR / 169 USD*

    Early Bird Admission fee for for two project sessions is 2338 EUR / app.2969 USD*.   SAVE 130 EUR / 169 USD*

    REGULAR Admission Fee after January 31, 2015:

    The regular admission fee for one session is 1299 EUR / app.1688 USD*

    The regular admission fee for two project sessions is 2468 EUR / app. 3208 USD* (including 5% discount for participation in 2 project sessions!).

    *(please 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).
    3. BHFS alumni, who participated successfully in at least two sessions of this project in the past.