BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL PROJECT (COURSE) 2014:
RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN "CIVILIZATION" - TELL YUNATSITE EXCAVATIONS



 
Project type: field school (excavations). THE VARIETY OF ACTIVITIES AND TEAM FLEXIBILITY MAKE THIS PROJECT SUITABLE FOR EITHER BEGINNERS OR ADVANCED IN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY.

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN EVEN MORE COMPREHENISVE EXPERIENCE WITH OLD WORLD'S PREHISTORY, PLEASE SEE ALSO THE PREHISTORIC PACK (COMBINING TWO DIFFERENT BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL PROJECTS)!

IF YOU ARE A PROJECT ALUMNI YOU CAN APPLY FOR ADMISSION IN THE SAME PROJECT IN 2014 BENEFITTING FROM THE NEW BHFS DISCOUNT POLICY PROVIDING 45% DISCOUNT OFF THE REGULAR ADMISSION FEE (See the admission fees below at the bottom of this page!).

 
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 90 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  hours) and Plovdiv (app. 30-45 min).
 
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THE FIELD SCHOOL

Dates:
Field school session 1: 19 July - 2 August, 2014
Field school session 2: 3 - 17 August, 2014
Field School Session 3 (Session 1 Extended): 19 July - 9 August, 2014
 
Application Deadlines: until the places are filled, or latest 15 June, 2014
 
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.
 
The site: 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" 2014 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, amazingly well preseved Chalcolithic wooden flooring and a high number of ovens. During the small-scale excavations of the Mikov's trench in 2012 and 2013 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 area provides an amazing opportunity for all field school participants 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 2014 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 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 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!).

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).

...

THE TEAM

 

Dig Director: Ass. Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev, PhD in Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Instructors, Trainers and Supervisors:

  • Asst. Prof. Kamen Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
  • Petar Zidarov (PhD candidate in Archaeology), Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany; Deputy director of the Laboratory for Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology, New Bulgarian University;
  • Desislava Takorova (PhD candidate in Archaeology), Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
  • Valeri Petrov (PhD candidate in Archaeology), Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
...

THE PROGRAM

 

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

  • Rise and Fall of the Europe's Earliest Civilization in the Fifth Millennium BC;
  • Tell Yunatsite: Environment, History and Excavations;
  • Warfare in Prehistory;
  • Technology of Production of Metal, Stone and Bone Tools during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic (Copper age) Period in Europe;
  • 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);
  • Dating Methods for Prehistoric Sites (L);
  • 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 Total Station? (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);
  • Excavation completion. Post excavation work and analyses;
  • Basic Principles of Finds Processing and Flotation of Soil Samples (W);
  • History of Pazardzhik (GT);
  • History and Archaeology of Plovdiv (GT).
Only for students in the three-week session (3) and the two project sessions (1&2):
  • Urbanism in Prehistory - Copper age settlement patterns from Bulgaria;
  • History and Archaeology of Stara Zagora (GT).
Only for students in the two project sessions (1&2):

  • Artifact Recording and Illustration: Stone and Bone Artifacts (W);
  • Standards in Archaeological Reports And Publications (L).
  • THE AGENDA:

    Dates
    Activities
    Notes
    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 either session 3 or 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

     

    Mid-session

    weekends

    Saturday: Visit to the ancient town of Plovdiv

    Participants who join either session 3 or two project sessions will visit Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings during the second session.

    Mid-session

    weekends

     Sunday: Days off

    Optional excursion to Bessa Valley Winery.

    Days between

    session 1 and 2

    Days off

    Optional excursion to the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

     

    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 FREE TIME

    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 in Pazardzhik. There is a laundry service available at the hotel. 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 session 3 and 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 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 (800 km/500 mi) or Istanbul, Turkey (480 km/290 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

    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.

    LAST MINUTE REGISTRATION BY MAY 31st, 2014:

    The Last Minute admission fee for either session 1 or session 2 is 1124 EUR  (app.1400 USD Check current exchange rates!).
     
    The Last Minute admission fee for session 3 is 1619 EUR (app. 2100 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

    The Last Minute admission fee for two project sessions (1&2) is 2248 EUR (app. 2660 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

     
    REGULAR ADMISSION FEE:

    The regular admission fee for either session 1 or session 2 is 1249 EUR (app.1550 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

    The regular admission fee for session 3 is 1799 EUR (app. 2338 USD. Check current exchange rates!)

    The regular admission fee for two project sessions (1&2) is 2373 EUR (app. 2990 USD including 5% discount for participation in two project sessions! Check current exchange rates!)

    Admission fee transfer options (for further information contact Admissions Office at bhfs.admissions@gmail.com):

      - Bank transfer
      -
    On-line transfers  

     

    DISCOUNTS OFF THE REGULAR ADMISSION FEE:

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

    1. Participation in more than 1 BHFS project or project session in 2014. (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 2014 (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 2014 (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 2014. (15% discount is valid only for the second, third etc. project/session to be attended).
    * 45% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available for the BHFS alumni, who participated successfully in at least two sessions of this project in the past (2011-2013). (45% discount is valid for any session to be attended).

     

    NOTE, 5% OF EVERY ADMISSION FEE FOR THIS PROJECT DIRECTLY SUPPORTS THE BALKAN HERITAGE PROTECTION FUND'S ACTIVITIES!

     APPLY ONLINE FOR ADMISSION TO THE PROJECT!