Republic of Macedonia

Workshop for Conservation and Documentation of Roman Mosaics and Mural Paintings

Period: Roman and Late Roman
Code: CDRMP.WRK 16
Session: 4 - 25 June, 2016
Academic credits available: 9
Admission fee starting from: 1709 EUR (app. 1919 USD)

The Project and the Course

General Information

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

Artifacts & monuments in the project's focus: Mosaics and wall-paintings of the ancient city of Stobi, Republic of Macedonia. 

Periods in the project's focus: Roman, Late Roman/Early Byzantine (Second century BC - Sixth century AD).  

Collaborating Universities & Institutions: Balkan Heritage Foundation and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria; NI Stobi, Republic of Macedonia

Workshop director: Silvana Blazhevska (Director of NI Stobi, archaeologist)

Chief conservators: Mishko Tutkovski (Conservator,NI Stobi; MA in Art Conservation; MA in Archaeology); Tome Filov (Conservator,NI Stobi; MA in Art Conservation)

Field School coordinators: Angela Pencheva (Archaeologist, Balkan Heritage Foundation; Ph.D. Candidate, Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany) and Mishko Tutkovski (Conservator,NI Stobi; MA in Art Conservation; MA in Archaeology)

Venue: Archaeological site of Stobi, Republic of Macedonia. The Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman city was a significant urban center in Antiquity and capital of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda in the Late Antiquity. Stobi was included in the 2012 world monuments watch list among the monuments with universal significance - Read more here!  

Dates: 4 - 25 June, 2016

Application Deadlines: until the places are filled, or latest 1 May, 2016   

Minimum length of stay: Three 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. Participation in the project 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 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 20 GB free disk space and a mouse. Operation system recommended: Windows XP or newer, Mac OSX or newer. All participants are expected to prepare for the workshop by reading at least the BHFS handbook (the BHFS e-handbook will be sent by e-mail to all registered students before the beginning of the project) and other recommended readings! Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.


The Workshop

The Workshop incorporates the following BHFS projects: the WORKSHOP FOR CONSERVATION AND DOCUMENTATION OF ROMAN MOSAICS (started in 2012) and the WORKSHOP FOR CONSERVATION AND DOCUMENTATION OF ROMAN MURAL PAINTINGS (started in 2011). Similar technical and methodological approaches in conservation and documentation of both mosaics and mural paintings make this combination not only possible and appropriate but also very efficient. In 2016 the field school project will be hosted again 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 and Mural Painting Art and Conservation.

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 and mural paintings. During the first two project weeks 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 and with authentic Late Roman wall-painting fragments found in Stobi during the third project week.

The project includes three modules:practical work in documentation and conservation of Roman mosaics and mural paintings; lectures and trainings on their history and conservation as well as excursions to the town of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis, medieval churches and monasteries of Prilep, Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Ancient Macedonian capitals in Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece. 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 Roman (esp. Late Roman) mosaics and mural paintings;
  • learn about the history and techniques of Roman (esp. Late Roman) mosaics and mural paintings;
  • be able to develop basic/further practical skills (depending on the participant's initial level of qualification) in ancient mosaic and wall painting conservation and documentation;
  • be able to recognize many of the alteration types of ancient wall-paintings and their causes;
  • deepen their knowledge through a first-hand experience of the Roman History, Arts 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 9 academic credits to students for participation in the project. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee! Contact Admissions Office for details!


Archaeological and Historical Context

Why Stobi? The first historic records to mention Stobi are by the Roman historian Titus Livy (ca. 197 BCE). According to Livy, Stobi became an important center for salt trading after the Roman conquests of Macedonia and the establishment of Pax Romana. In 69 CE, Emperor Vespasian granted Stobi the rank of municipium and the right to mint its own coins. Stobi was not only an important salt trading center but also strategically located at the crossroad of the ancient roads that ran along the two rivers Axios and Erigon. The first road connected the North and the South of the Balkans as it does today, while the second to the southwest connected Stobi with Via Egnatia near Heraclea Lyncestis and to the northeast it continued to Serdica.

This commercial and strategic position brought Stobi long-term prosperity, especially in the period between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. Several monumental buildings in the city are dated to this period: the Theater, the first City Wall, Porta Heraclea, Public Building with Arches (most probably the Stobi library), Casa Romana, the Synagogue, as well as the water supply system. In 267 CE the city suffered Goths and Herules raids. IN the end of the 3d century Stobi was devastated by an earthquake, later on rebuilt, but following a different urban plan. Most of the ruins visible today belong to buildings dated to this period.

In the 4th century CE, Stobi became an important Christian center and the seat of powerful bishops. In the 5th-6th centuries, Stobi was the capital city of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda, but suffered from the raids of Huns, Ostrogoths, Avars and Slavs. The constant threat of barbarian raids, as well as certain climatic changes lead to the gradual abandonment of the city in the second half of the 6th century CE.Some records mention a small Slav community that settled and lived there in later centuries. The last historical reference regarding Stobi describes the victory of the Byzantine troops over Stobi’s local militia during the 11th century CE. 

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 Theodosian 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 contributes to this program and facilitates significantly the conservation of at least one of the endangered mosaics!


Thank to the hardworking conservation team of NI Stobi and all project participants as well as the Balkan Heritage funding in 2012 and 2013 two of the floor mosaics in the Theodosian Palace of Stobi were successfully conserved. In 2014 the project will move on to conservation of one of the mosaics in the Episcopal Basilica, which is considered to be the oldest and most important Early Christian monument in the Republic of Macedonia.In the year 2015, students participated in the conservation and restoration project of the mosaics from the narthex of the Episcopal basilcia, that is planed to be completed next year. In the focus of the course in 2016, will be the floor mosaics from the late antique palace (so called "Casino") and plus the mosaics from the narthex in the Episcopal basilica.


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.


The mural paintings of the Old Basilica are the oldest known in the Republic of Macedonia and among the oldest in the Balkans. Thank to the conservation project (2010-2012) funded by the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Heritage Preservation all of these frescoes were detached from the walls, conserved and placed on aluminium honeycomb panels. They are going to be returned to their original position during the final stage of conservation. See the Gallery of NI Stobi!

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

The Program


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 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);         
  • Introduction to the Late Roman Wall-painting: History and Techniques (L);   
  • Causes of Alteration in Wall-paintings (L);
  • Review of Basic Methods and Techniques of Conservation of Wall-paintings (L);   
  • Introduction to the Conservation Work (Laboratory, Tools, Materials, Chemicals) (L);
  • Documentation of Late Roman Wall-painting Fragments (W);
  • Conservation of Detached Late Roman Wall-painting Fragments (incl. Fixation, Consolidation, Application to the New Support, Cleaning, Disinfection, Retouch etc.) (W).
  • Set up on a New Carrier (W);
  • Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis (GT);
  • Pella and Vergina (GT);
  • Ohrid (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (GT).


  • Lectures will take place at the site's lab.  
  • Workshops will take place at the site.
  • Instructions and training - will take place at the site.

The Agenda


First day

Arrival at archaeological site of Stobi by 7.00 pm, check-in and registration. Short orientation walk in Gradsko.

8/8.30 - 10.30 pm - Traditional welcome dinner. 

A pick-up may be arranged from one of the nearest airports: Skopje (Macedonia) and Thessaloniki (Greece) upon request.

Participants, who travel by bus/train will be picked up from Gradsko bus/railway station. 

Arrival date: 4 June, 2016

Second Day

Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and collaborating universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking and orientation.Sightseeing of the archaeological site of Stobi.

Afternoon: Lectures.

Work 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

Workshops and lectures cover different aspects of the ancient mosaic and mural painting 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. 

First weekend

Saturday: Guided visit of Ohrid and the Ohrid Lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

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

Last workday

7.50 - 8.30 am - Breakfast

8.30 am - 1.00 pm - Workshops/Lectures with 30-min break.

1.00 - 4.00 pm - Lunch. Presentation of the workshop results.

4.00 - 8.00 pm - Free time (optional visit to the towns nearby).

8.00 pm - .....- Dinner and farewell party.

Second weekend

Saturday: Guided tour of ancient Macedonian capitals Pella and Aigai, modern Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece   

Sunday: Day-off

Departure day

Departure after breakfast (by 10.30 am).

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


Departure date: 25 June, 2016

Reading Background


Andreae B., Antike Bildmosaiken, Mainz, 2003   

Bruneau Ph., La mosaïque antique. Lectures en Sorbonne, Paris, 1987   

Cather S. (Ed.), The Conservation of wall paintings, in: Proceedings of a symposium organized by the Courtauld Institute of Art and the Getty Conservation Institute, London 1987

Donderer M., Die Mosaizisten der Antike und ihre wirtschaftliche und soziale Stellung, Erlangen-Nürnberg, 1989     

Downing C. J., Wall Paintings from the Baptistery at Stobi, Macedonia, and Early Depictions of Christ and the Evangelists (Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 52, 1998, 259-280 

Dunbabin K.M.D. , Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World, Cambridge 1999   

Early Christian Wall Paintings from the Episcopal Basilica in Stobi:

Fischer P., Mosaic: History and Technique, New York & Toronto, 1971      

Ling R.J., Ancient Mosaics, London, 1998

L’Orange H.P., Nordhagen P., Mosaics from Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages, London, 1966  

Wiseman R., Mano-Zissi Dj., Stobi: A City of Ancient Macedonia. In: Journal of Field Archaeology, 3, 1976, p. 269-302

Travel & Accommodation & Practicalities   


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 (13 km) and Kavadartsi (20 km) participants could get on a bus to Gradsko or on a taxi directly to Stobi.


Accommodation & Meals   


Accommodation: in the recently renovated air-conditioned cabins at the archaeological site 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. Washing machine and Wi-Fi are available for free. There are outdoor and indoor dining and social spaces.

Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) at the site's dining room or outdoors next to it. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, gluten-free etc.) are difficult to maintain in this location.

Participants must pay on their own for extra meals, beverages, services and products!    


Free Time & Trips 

Films, sport games and visits to the neighboring 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) as well as ancient Macedonian capitals in Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece will be organized for all field school participants and are covered by the admission fee.     

Technicalities & Practicalities 


Insurance: The admission fee does not cover health insurance. It is necessary to arrange your own insurance before your trip to Republic of Macedonia! There are hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in all the larger towns. Foreign tourists must pay for health services, but might receive a refund if their home country has signed the Health Insurance Convention with Macedonia (you should check this information with your Ministry of Health).

Weather: Moderate continental climate dominates in Stobi. Summers there are usually hot (up to 40-45 C; 100 – 110 F). Rainy and chilly days in this season are rare but not excluded.

What to bring?

  • A pair of working shoes (sneakers, running shoes) and a pair of comfortable shoes for walking/hiking;
  • Clothing suitable for an outdoor working environment: sun-hat and light clothes with long sleeves and legs (protecting from the sun and insects), including a light raincoat (consider weather conditions - hot and sunny, but rain may fall as well); 
  • Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop having at least 20 GB free disk space, a mouse and an USB flash drive. Operating system recommended: Windows XP or newer; Mac OS X 10.0.0 or newer.
  • Medication - only prescription medicines you may need. It is not necessary to bring non-prescription medicine from your country since you can buy all basic non-prescription drugs in Macedonia.   
  • Don’t forget to bring a converter to EU type electricity wall-plug if needed.
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries ;) 
  • Conservation & Documentation tools and materials are available at the site.

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.


The price in USD is for orientation. Please check current exchange rates! 


Early Bird Special by January 31, 2016:

Early Bird admission fee for the project is 1709 EUR/ app.1919 USD - SAVE 220 EUR/ app. 360 USD.


Regular Admission Fee - after January 31, 2016:

The regular admission fee for the project is 1899 EUR/ app.2139 USD.    


Admission Fee Transfer Options:

- Bank transfer
- On-line transfers via the Balkan Heritage virtual POS Terminal VISA, MASTERCARD & MAESTRO cards are accepted.

For further information contact Admissions Office at!

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 in 2016. (5% discount is valid for all project 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 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 BHFS project in 2016 (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 in 2016 (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 in 2016. (15% discount is valid only for the second, third etc. project to be attended).
  3. BHFS alumni, who participated successfully in the same project in the past.


Note, 5% of every admission fee for this project directly supports the Balkan Heritage Protection Fund's activities!


For more information about scholarships, low-cost flights, hotels, etc. please feel free to contact us or look at our recommended links

Academic credits


New Bulgarian University grants 9 academic credits to students for participation in the project. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee! For details please read the Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records!

Tuition fee: starting from 423 EUR for nine ECTS credits.



Republic of Macedonia

Workshop for Conservation and Documentation of Roman Mosaics and Mural Paintings

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