Republic of Macedonia

Stobi (The Capital City of Macedonia Secunda) Excavation Project

Period: Roman, Late Roman
Code: STOBI.EXC 16
Session 1: 26 June - 10 July 2016
Session 2: 10 - 24 July 2016
Academic credits available: 9
Admission fee starting from: 1104 EUR (app. 1239 USD)

The Project and Course

General information

This project is included in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans   

Project type: field school & archaeological excavation. The variety of activities and the team's professionalism and flexibility make this project suitable for both beginners and advanced in either Field or Roman Archaeology. Individual program and task assignment are available to advanced students.

Site and venue: Archaeological site of Stobi is near the village of Gradsko, Republic of Macedonia. Stobi was included in the 2012 world monuments watch list among the monuments with universal significance - read more here!

Period(s) of occupation: Hellenistic, Roman, Late Roman (Second century BC - Sixth century AD)

Period in the project's focus: Roman, Late Roman (Second century - Sixth century AD)

Collaborating Universities & Institutions: Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF), Bulgaria, National Institution Stobi, Republic of Macedonia, and Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA, Queen's University, Department of Classics, Canada and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria.

Dig director: Silvana Blazhevska (MA in Archaeology), Director of National Institution Stobi

Field School Coordinators: Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage archaeologist, PhD student at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany); Goce Pavlovski (archaeologist, NI Stobi, MA in Archaeology);

Visiting professor: George A. Bevan (PhD), Associate Professor, Department of Classics, Queen's University,Canada.

Sessions' dates:

Field school two week session 1: 26 June - 10 July, 2016
Field school two week session 2: 10 July - 24 July, 2016

Application Deadlines:

For two week session 1 and four week session: 15 May 2016

For two week session 2: 1 June 2016   

Minimum length of stay for volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)

Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member) 

Number of field school places available: Maximum 20   

Language: English      

Experience required: No

Special requirements: 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 25-35 C or higher. All participants should bring clothes and cosmetics suitable for hot and sunny weather. Bear in mind that chillier days are very rare but not uncommon. All participants are expected to prepare 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.

If you are interested in an even more comprehensive experience with classical antiquity, check our project pack ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN PACK combining 2 different Balkan Heritage Field School Projects!

The Site and the Excavation Project


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. 


Periods of excavations:

For more than a century the ancient city of Stobi has been attracting scientists from all over the World to reveal its secrets. The first reported excavations started during the World War I by German officers and the archaeologist Hald and later on Krischen.

1923 to 1940 - Excavations, directed by Balduin Saria and R. Eger, Kj. Truhelka, V. Petkovic, J. Petrovic, Dj. Mano-Zissi - the Belgarde National Museum;

1955 to 1969 - Excavations carried out by the Archaeological Museum of Skopje and the Agency for Protection of Monuments of Culture, Macedonia;

1970-1980 - Excavations, directed by Dj. Mano-Zissi and J. Wiseman - the Museum of Veles, Macedonia, University of Austin, Texas, and later Boston University - both from USA.

1992 -1995 - rescue excavations by the Agency for Protection of Monuments of Culture, Macedonia;

The National Institution Stobi was founded in December 2008 and since 2009 a large-scale excavation campaign the aim was to systematically excavate the south end of Stobi.

Despite all the excavation campaigns only 15% of the territory of Stobi that is surrounded by the city wall has been excavated.

The Field School

In 2010 the field school project was concentrated on the Western Necropolis (in use from the first century BC to the fifth century AD) and the temple of Isis dated to the second and the third century AD. The excavations between 2011 and 2013 took place in the Northern Residential Area of Stobi, inhabited mainly in the Late Antiquity. The participants in 2014 Field School excavated part of the most representative, residential building in Stobi the so called "Theodossian Palace", located in the center of the ancient town, between the streets of Via Principalis Inferior and Via Principalis Superior. The name of this richly decorated with mosaics building, was applied by the assumption that the emperor Theodosius I was accommodated here when he visited Stobi in 388 AD. The excavations during the field school in 2015 are going to continue at the same spot.

Two field school sessions are available every year and each includes the following three modules:fieldwork, including excavation of Roman and Late Roman layers and structures: practicing basic excavation techniques and developing of archaeological field documentation by 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 dumpy level, as well as taking photographs at the site; lectures, workshops and field training in Roman and Field Archaeology, Finds' Processing and Documentation as well as excursions to to the old towns of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis as well as to Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

The participants who join the two project sessions (1&2) will be able to develop further their skills and competences regarding the archaeological field work and finds' processing, gained during the first two-week session. They will:

  • attend a number of extra lectures and workshops for analyzing, recording, illustration and conservation of archaeological artifacts;
  • attend a 5-day Workshop on Advanced Digital Imaging & Surveying For Archaeological and Architectural Recording alongside the excavation (it is optional and covered by the admission fee), taught by Canadian professor Dr. George Bevan (Queens University, Canada). Students will continue to excavate in the morning session but will have the option of additional training in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) and Photogrammetry of small finds such as coins or ceramics in the afternoon as well as of larger-scale features in excavated units on site. Further training will be given in the operation of a Total Station and the establishing of a survey control network on site.
  • participate in a field survey and site recording in the vicinity of Stobi;
  • take a trip during the project to Skopje (covered by the admission fee) and to the ancient Macedonian capital Pella and the royal burial complexes in Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Greece (optional, not covered by the admission fee).


After the field school the participants could join also the optional 5-day trip to Athens and Delphi, Greece.


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.



The Team   

Instructors, Trainers and Area Supervisors:

  • Goce Pavlovski (archaeologists, NI Stobi);     
  • Zlatko Kovantsaliev (archaeologists, NI Stobi); 
  • Dr. George A. Bevan (Assoicate Professor, Department of Classics, Queen's University, Canada); 
  • Jovan Radnyanski (archaeologists, NI Stobi);  
  • Bilyana Jankulovska (conservator, NI Stobi).

The Program

50 astronomical hours of fieldwork per session;

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

  • History of Macedonia in Antiquity (Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman Period) (L);
  • History and Archaeology of Stobi and Introduction in the excavation area (L)
  • Roman Civil, Public and Religious Architecture in Macedonia (Based on Examples from Stobi) (L);
  • Typology of Roman Pottery, with Examples from Stobi (L)   
  • Conservation of Ceramic Artifacts (W)   
  • Artifact Recording and Illustration in Archaeology: Pottery shards (W);
  • Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation (FIT);
  • Introduction to the Field Journal; Locus Sheets, Log Book and Other Forms (FIT);
  • Use of Tools and Working Techniques (FIT);
  • Three Dimensional Positioning of Finds, Features and Structures(L);
  • How to Use a Dumpy Level? (FIT);
  • Stratigraphy: Horizontal, Vertical and Chronological (L);
  • Field Graphic and Photographic Documentation:
  • Scale-drawing of: Ground-plan/elevation-plan/Cross-section (FIT);
  • Photography for Archaeologists (FIT);
  • Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research (L);
  • Excavation Completion. Post Excavation Work and Analyses. Excavation and Reconnaissance Survey Report (L);
  • From the Field to Storage: Review of Basic Methods for Uncovering, "First Aid", Consolidation in Situ, Cleaning, Sorting, Labeling, Documenting and Storing Ceramic Artifacts (L);     

  • Basic Principles of Finds Processing (W);
  • Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis (GT).


Only for students in the four week project session:

  • Practical total station operation (L, FIT);   
  • Introduction to Surveying: GNSS;    
  • Photogrammetry capture and processing (L, FIT);     
  • Tour of Skopje (GT).
  • Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece - optional (GT).
  • Tour of Athens and Delphi, Greece – optional (GT).      


Fieldwork - expect to perform all types of fieldwork at the site, from digging and brushing to mapping and sampling as well as finds processing along with lab work.

Lectures will take place at the lab and the site.

Workshops will take place at the lab and the site.

Field instructions and training - will take place at the site.


The Agenda


First day

Arrival in Stobi by 7.00 pm. Registration and check-in. Traditional welcome dinner.

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

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

Arrival dates: two week session 1 (four week session): 25 June, 2016; two week session 2: 10 July, 2016

Meeting time/point on arrival date: 8.00 pm at Stobi

Second day

Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School, National Institution Stobi and the other collaborating universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking and orientation.

Sightseeing of the archaeological site of Stobi, LECTURE and orientation walk in Gradsko and the town(s) nearby.

Working days

6.00 am - 6.40 am - Breakfast

6.40 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork with 30-min break*.

1.00 pm - 5.00 pm - Lunch and siesta break.

5.00 pm - 5.45 pm - Lectures/ Workshops

6.00 pm - 7.30/8.00 pm - Finds' processing. Workshops.

8.00 pm - 9.00 pm - Dinner.


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

** Lectures and workshops in the area of Roman and Field Archaeology.


The BHFS team could organize/assist organization of various leisure activities for participants during their free time such as hiking, wine-tasting, movies etc.

Mid-session weekends (Saturdays)

The first session’s Saturday: Visit to the ancient town of Bitola and the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis.

Mid-session weekends (Sundays)

Visit to Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site).

Last day

Departure after breakfast.

A drop-off may be arranged to the airports in Skopje (Macedonia) and Thessaloniki (Greece)upon request.

Departure dates: two week session 1: 10 July, 2016; two week session 2 (four week session): 24 July, 2016

Reading Background   


Anderson-Stojanovic, V.R. Stobi, The Hellenistic and Roman Pottery, Princeton University Press, 1992.

Boardman, J., et al. (ed.) The Oxford History of the Classical World. Oxford & New York,1986.

Brown, P. The World of Late Antiquity AD 150-750 (Library of World Civilization). Norton & Company, 1989.

Errington, R. M. A History of the Hellenistic World: 323-30 BC. Wiley-Blackwell 2008.

Errington, R. M. A History of Macedonia. Barnes Noble, 1994.

Grant J., Gorin S. and Fleming N.. The Archaeology Course Book: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge. 2008.

Renfrew, C. and Paul B.. Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. New York, 2006.

Wiseman, J.R. and Mano-Zissi D.Stobi: A City of Ancient Macedonia, Journal of Field Archaeology, 3(3): 269-302, 1976.

Travel & Accommodation & Practicalities   


The nearest air terminals: Skopje, Macedonia (80 km) and Thessaloniki, Greece (160 km) - don't forget checking 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 neighboring 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: 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. 

Meals: 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.  

Participants must pay on their own for extra meals, beverages, services and products! There is no option for single room accommodation at Stobi!


Free Time & Trips


Free time: 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 LyncestisOhrid and Ohrid Lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site) will be organized for all field school participants. Tour of Skopje is available only for participants in the two project sessions. All are covered by the admission fee.


Extra trips and excursions:

Please follow the links above for excursion details and information on how to join!   


Technicalities & Practicalities


Insurance: The admission fee does not cover health insurance. It is necessary to arrange your own insurance before your trip to Macedonia! There are hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in all the larger towns. The service is good and prices are moderate. Foreign tourists must pay for health services,but might receive a refund if their native 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?   

  • Work shoes and clothes that will suit outdoor work keeping in mind the diverse weather conditions (from rainy and cool to sunny and warm)! Don’t forget both your raincoats and suntan lotion/oil, a pair of comfortable hiking shoes/boots, hat and a small backpack (for your food, bottle of water, moist wipes, camera, papers etc)are required. Long pants are recommended because of the potentially harmful plants,insects and reptiles!
  • Medication - It is not necessary to bring non-prescription medicine from your country since you can buy all basic non-prescription drugs: aspirin and bug repellent etc.! It is recommended that you bring individual prescription medicines if you suffer from specific illnesses.   
  • Don’t forget to bring a converter to EU type electricity wall-plug if needed.
  • Excavation & Documentation tools and materials are available at the site.         
  • You do not need to bring drawing, measuring and/or other tools - these will be provided by the field school!   
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries ;)

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! 


Super Early Bird Special - by November 30, 2015:

Super Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1104 EUR / app.1239 USD  -  SAVE 195 EUR / 220 USD

Super Early Bird Admission fee for four project session is 2439 EUR / app.2740 USD.  -  SAVE 260 EUR / 300 USD


Early Bird Special - from December 1, 2015 until January 31, 2016:

Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1169 EUR / app.1309 USD -  SAVE 130 EUR / 150 USD

Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2569 EUR / app. 2885 USD -  SAVE 130 EUR / 150 USD


Regular admission fee - after January 31, 2016:

The regular admission fee for one session is 1299 EUR / app.1449 USD

The regular admission fee for four project session is 2699 EUR / app. 3030 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).

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   



  • Students who study in Europe (EU, EEA, CH, Russian Federation and countries from Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus): New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credits to all European students for attending any of two-week sessions and 12 ECTS credits for attending the four-week session. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details please read carefully the Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records. Tuition fee: starting from 282 EUR for six ECTS credits / 564 EUR for nine ECTS credits.
  • Students who study outside Europe willing to obtain academic credits for attending the four-week session of this field school project shall apply to BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans and enroll through Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA. They will be awarded 12 semester credit units (equivalent to 18 quarter units) through our academic partner University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and will receive a letter grade. Tuition fee: it is included in the IFR admission fee.



Republic of Macedonia

Stobi (The Capital City of Macedonia Secunda) Excavation Project

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