Balkan heritage projects 2013:
RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN "CIVILIZATION" - TELL YUNATSITE EXCAVATIONS
Project type: field school (excavations) THE PROJECT IS SUITABLE FOR BOTH BEGINNERS AND ADVANCED IN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY!
Site: Prehistoric tell next to the village of Yunatsite, Southern Bulgaria.
Project Venue: the district town of Pazardzhik, Southern Bulgaria is 8 km away from the site.
Period(s) of occupation: Copper Age (4900 - 4100 BC), Early Bronze Age (3100-2200 BC), Iron Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages.
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.
Travel/access to the project venue: The town of Pazardzhik is located in Thrace, Southern Bulgaria. It may be reached by both bus and train from Sofia (app. 1-1 ½ hours) and Plovdiv (app. 30-45 min).
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. 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 oldest copper mines are found near Rudna glava, Serbia and Mechi kladenets/Ai bunar near Stara Zagora, Bulgaria). 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, Durankulak and 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’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. 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 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 uptwon 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 large pit under it, seems to be a very rare occurrence in archaeological practice.
The RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN "CIVILIZATION" 2013 PROJECT envisions further excavation of the following:
All participants will receive:
New Bulgarian University grants 6 credits to students for participation in the Standard Field School Project and 9 credits for participation in the Extended Field School Project. Transcripts 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).
Affiliation: 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).
Dig Director: Yavor Boyadzhiev, PhD in Archaeology, Archaeologist and Associated Professor at the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Project Coordinator: Ivan Vasilev (archaeologist and project manager, Balkan Heritage Foundation)
Standard Field School Project: 20 July–3 August, 2013
Extended Field School Project: 20 July-10 August, 2013
Application Deadlines: until the places are filled, or latest 15 June, 2013
Minimum length of stay for participants: Two weeks
Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 16
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 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
BHFS lecturers, instructors and trainers:
Lectures, workshops and field trainings:
Environmental, historical and cultural context of the site
Old Town Quarter, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The Roman Theater, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Room and Board arrangements: in rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, air-conditioning and Wi-Fi) in a downtown-hotel. There is a laundry service available at the hotel. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee of 130 EUR per week.
Free time: The town of Pazardzhik offers a variety of opportunities for good entertainment, sightseeing and shopping. At the weekends there are guided visits to the ancient city of Plovdiv (for all field school participants) and to Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings (for participants in the Extended Field School Project).
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 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 the Standard Project/Extended Project is 1124 /1610 EUR (app.1400/1900 USD Check current exchange rates!).
REGISTRATION AFTER JANUARY 31st, 2013
The regular admission fee for the Standard Project/Extended Project is 1249/1789 EUR (app.1550/2200 USD. 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!