This project is included in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans
Project type: field school & archaeological excavations. The variety of activities and the team's professionalism and flexibility make this project suitable for both beginners and advanced in either Field or Classical Archaeology. Individual program and task assignments are available to advanced students.
The field school started: 2013
Site: Emporion Pistiros, between the small towns of Septemvri and Vetren, Southern Bulgaria.
Project venue: Villa Terres is a newly built tourist complex including a SPA hotel and a winery. It is located in the southern part of the village of Karabunar, 8 km from the motorway exit "Trakia" on the road to Velingrad. During the project work days all participants will be provided with transportation from the hotel to the site (that is located 14 km away) and back.
Period(s) of occupation: Late Classical, Hellenistic (5th - 3rd century BCE)
Major field school topics/activities: Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation; ancient Greek and Thracian archaeology in the light of their trade and religious interaction at the site; RTI in collaboration with University of Exeter, UK; documentation of Late Classical and Hellenistic finds, excursions to significant heritage sites in Thrace, Bulgaria.
BHF partners in this project: Septemvri Archaeological Museum "Prof. Mieczyslaw Domaradzki", Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA, Pistiros Excavation Team from the National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, "Pistiros" Association and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).
Dig director: Asst. Prof. Alexey Gotsev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Field school coordinator: Dr Angela Pencheva, Balkan Heritage Program Manager; PhD in Classical Archaeology.
Visiting professors: Dr Jacqueline Christmas and Dr Judith Bannerman - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Dr Lidia Domaradzka - Sofia University: Ass. Prof. Tzvete Lazova - New Bulgarian University; Gavrail Lazov (MA in Archaeology), Archaeologist and Museologist; Valentina Taneva (MA in Archaeology), Archaeologist and Numismatist; National Historical Museum, Pazardjik; Maya Nikolova, Pottery Conservator at the Archaeological Museum "Prof. M. Domaradski", Septemvri, Bulgaria;
Field school sessions available:
Application deadlines: until the places are filled or 1 July 2019
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 18
Project language: English
Academic credits available: Students who study in Europe can receive up to 9 ECTS credits through New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria. Students who study outside Europe can obtain 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through IFR’s academic partner Connecticut College.
Experience required: None
Special requirements: 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 (77 - 100° F) or higher. All participants should bring clothes and toiletries suitable for hot and sunny weather but should also prepare for possible rainy, windy and chilly days. Participants are also expected to prepare for the dig by reading at least the BHFS handbook that will be sent by e-mail 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 wide ranging experience with classical antiquity, please see also the ANCIENT GREEK PACK and the ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN PACK (each combining two different Balkan Heritage Field School projects)!
|WATCH STUDENT TESTIMONIALS!|
The ruins of an ancient Greek trade center (emporion) in the heart of Thrace – on the left bank of Maritsa River (ancient Hebros), between the towns of Vetren and Septemvri, were discovered by Prof. M. Domaradzki in 1988. He started regular excavations and in 1990, his team found a stone inscription (known as "Vetren inscription") that helped the scholars identify the site as the Ancient Greek emporion named Pistiros. Merchants from Greek coastal cities of Maroneia, Thassos and Apollonia lived and traded there with their Thracian neighbors under the supreme protection of the Thracian Odrysian kings (the biggest and mightiest Thracian Kingdom at that time).
The emporion was also a major metallurgical center and a key harbor for export of metals and metal products from Thrace to Greece in the Classical and Early Hellenistic periods (from the middle of the 5th to the beginning of the 3rd century BCE). The trade contacts of the emporion are evident through finds of numerous imports such as Attic red-figured and black-slip pottery, amphorae (mainly Thassian) and coins (e.g. several hoards of copper, silver and gold coins found during the excavations - they represent the coinage of different Odrysian kings (e.g. Amatokos I, Bergaios, Kotys I, Amatokos II, Teres II, Kersebleptes, Teres II), Greek cities (Thassos, Maroneia, Parion, Thracian Chersonese, Enos, Apollonia, Messabria etc.) and Macedonian rulers (Philip II, Alexander the Great, Kassandros, Demetrios Poliokretes, Lysimachos etc.).
Most of the ancient authors and the majority of the modern scholars consider the cult of Dionysos rooted in Thrace. Apparently, it played a very important role in the emporion's religious life. For instance the Vetren inscription informs about the oath taken in the name of Dionysos by the Odrysian king: Kotys I (383-359 BCE) and his successor from the citizens of Pistiros - this how they guaranteed the integrity of their lives, properties and activities in their town under the sovereignty of the Thracian kings.
Pistiros history in brief:
So far, archaeologists have uncovered the eastern fortification wall of the emporion (having one gate, a tower, and a bastion - all built of stone blocks analogically to the Thassian fortification system), streets paved by stone plates, solid stone foundations of two buildings as well as an efficient drainage system. Buildings of different types are indicating at least two different chronological horizons of the site's existence. The investigation of their characteristic features and shapes, as well as the emporion's planning are among the major research questions concerning Pistiros, together with the following others:
In the years since 1988, the Pistiros Excavation Team - lead by representatives of National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) was joined by the following institutions:
The Balkan Heritage Field School at the site of Pistiros started in 2013. To date, the students have worked in the southeastern sector which is an area next to the fortification wall where two chronologically different building horizons were identified.
In the earlier one, the area was covered with simple half dug in houses, presumably dated in the very first period of the site's existence - the end of the 5th BCE.
The architectural remains from the second horizon belong to buildings made of wooden beams, wattle and daub, and existed in the period between the second half of 4th and beginning of 3rd BCE. Characteristic for this time period are clay escharae (fireplaces) of rectangular or oval shape. A huge amount of local and imported Greek vessels, cult figurines, Greek and Thracian coins, weapon etc. were among the artifacts discovered in the last five years.
The participants in 2019 in Ancient Greeks in the Land of Dionysos - Excavation of Emporion Pistiros will be included in the further excavation of the same sector.
The project sessions available in 2019 include the following three modules:
The participants who join the four-week project session will be able to further develop their skills and competences regarding the field work and findings processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures, workshops and an excursion to some of the most remarkable Thracian royal tombs in the Rose Valley in and around Kazanlak and Starosel, Bulgaria. They will also attend the Workshops on Advanced Digital Imaging for Archaeological Recording alongside the excavation (it is optional and covered by the admission fee), taught by Dr Jacqueline Christmas and Dr Judith Bannerman - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK;. Students will continue excavating in the morning session but will have the option of additional training in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) of epigraphic monuments and small objects found in Pistiros, in the afternoon.
Students who must prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.
All participants will receive:
Instructors, Trainers and Area Supervisors:
Angela Pencheva (
PhD in Classical Archaeology); Adjunct Professor, CPCE, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria;
Petia Ilieva (PhD in Archaeology; MA in Ancient Greek Philology). Assistant Professor at Centre of Thracology and Institute for Balkan Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
Two-week field school sessions provide a minimum of 85 hours of fieldwork and training, workshops, lectures and guided tours as follows:
The four-week session provides a minimum of 170 hours of fieldwork and training, workshops, lectures and guided tours incorporating all two-week session's activities plus the following:
Lectures & Workshops on:
Students who must prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.
Arrival and check-in at Villa Terres, Karabunar, Pazardzhik district, Bulgaria by 7.00 pm
8.00 pm - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian Welcome Dinner.
Transfers from the Sofia or Plovdiv airports can be arranged for an additional fee upon request.
Meeting time/point on arrival date: 7.00 pm, Villa Terres, Karabunar
Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and collaborative universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breakers.
Afternoon: Site seeing of Pistiros and the Septemvri Archaeological Museum "M. Domaradzki".
6.30 am - 7.00 am - Breakfast
7.10 am - 7.25 am - Travel to the site
7.30 am - 10.30 am - Fieldwork*
10.30 am - 11.00 am - Break
11.00 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork*
1.00 pm - 5.00 pm - Lunch and siesta break
5.00 pm - 6.30 pm - Lectures/Workshops/Finds processing **
7.30 pm - 9.00 pm - Dinner
*In rare cases of rain, the field school program provides substitute activities including finds processing workshops and film projections at Villa Terres.
**Lectures and workshops in the area of Classical and Field Archaeology, focused on Ancient Greek and Thracian culture in Pistiros and advanced digital imaging and surveying for archaeological and architectural recording.
The following excursions are included in the field school program and covered by the admission fee:
28 July (Sunday): Visit to the ancient town of Plovdiv – European capital of Culture 2019
11 August (Sunday): 1-day excursion to the Thracian royal tombs in the Rose Valley in and around Kazanlak (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
19 August (Sunday): 1-day excursion to Northwestern Thrace (Bulgaria): Koprivshtitsa (a historical town and architectural reservation keeping the traditional look of Bulgarian towns in the 18th and 19th century); Recently discovered Thracian sites (castles and shrines) in Sredna Gora Mountains. Panagyurishte (including the History Museum with the famous golden treasure of Panagyurishte).
Participants who attend the four-week project sessions will join all the tours.
4, 11 August
Departure day. Check-out by 12.30 pm.
Transfers to the airports in Sofia and Plovdiv can be arranged for an additional fee upon request.
Villa Terres provides SPA center with sauna, steam bath and swimming pool for free to all field school participants as well as ATVs and bikes for hire. The BHFS team can assist with the organization of additional leisure activities for participants upon request such as hiking, wine-tasting outside the Villa, movies etc.
Archibald, Z. H. – The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace: Orpheus Unmasked (Oxford, 1998)
Bouzek, J., M. Domaradzki, Z. Archibald (eds.) - Pistiros I. Excavations and Studies (Prague, 1996).
Bouzek, J., L. Domaradzka, Z. Archibald (eds.) - Pistiros II. Excavations and Studies (Prague, 2002).
Bouzek, J., L. Domaradzka, Z. Archibald (eds.) - Pistiros III. Excavations and Studies (Prague, 2007).
Bouzek, J., L. Domaradzka, Z. Archibald (eds.) - Pistiros IV. Excavations and Studies (Prague, 2010).
Bouzek, J., L. Domaradzka, A. Gotzev, Z. Archibald (eds.) - Pistiros V. Excavations and Studies (Prague, 2014).
Bouzek, J., Militky J. (eds.) - Pistiros VI. Pistiros Hoard (Prague, 2016)
Bouzek. J. - The outline of the chronology of Pistiros. – Studia Hercynia XVII/1, Pistiros V supplementum, Pragae, 2013, 5-7.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. (eds.). The Culture of Thracians and their Neighbours. Proceedings of the International Symposium in Memory of Prof. Mieczysław Domaradzki, with a Round Table 'Archaeological map of Bulgaria’. BAR International Series 1350. Oxford, 2005.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzki, M.†, Domaradzka, L., Taneva, V. Fortification and Urban Planning of Emporion Pistiros (Adžijska Vodenica). – Archeologia (Warszawa) LII 2001, Warszawa 2002, 7 – 18.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L., Gotzev, A., Ivanova E., Katincharova, D., Kolarova, V., Lazov, G., Taneva, V., Youroukova, Y. Pistiros and the Celts. (In:) Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities. Eirene 42, Prague 2006, 124 – 129.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. The Emporion Pistiros near Vetren between greater Powers, 450 – 278 B.C. (In:) Thrace in the Graeco-Roman World, Athens 2008, 86 – 94.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and the North Aegean Greek Cities. Ancient Macedonia. Proceedings of the 7th International Symposion on Ancient Macedonia. Thessaloniki 2007, 2009, 745 – 758.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros. Facts and Opinions. Eirene XLV/2009, Prague 2009, 147 – 154.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and Inland Emporia in the Balkans: Greeks, Thracians, and their Neighbours. – Eirene XLVI/2010/I – II, Prague 2010, 157 – 160.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Greeks in Inner Thrace. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 45 – 60.
Grant J., S. Gorin and N. Fleming.The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge. 2008.
Taneva, V. The Potter’s Kiln Found at Pistiros. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 25 – 28.
Valeva, J., Nankov, E., Graninger D. (ed.) A Companion to Ancient Thrace, Wiley Blackwell, 2015.
Project venue: Villa Terres is located in the village of Karabunar, 84 km/52 mi away from the Bulgarian capital Sofia and just 8 km/5 mi away from "Trakia" motorway exit to Velingrad. The distance from the villa to the site is approx. 15 km/9,5 mi, approx. 15/20 min drive. Daily BHFS shuttle service is arranged for the participants to bring them to the site and back. The site has running water, electricity and a squat toilet.
The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 84 km/ 52 mi) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria, 50 km/ 34 mi). If participants arrive at one of these airports, a transfer to Villa Terres in Karabunar may be arranged by request. Individual or group transfer prices may vary, depending on the number of passengers, from 25 to 100 EUR. Ask for details!
How to get there?: Participants who individually arrange their travel will be expected to arrive at Villa Terres on the arrival day by 7.00 pm. It may be reached by bus from Septemvri (15 - 20 min) and Sofia (app. 1 ½ hrs). A detailed travel-info sheet will be provided to enrolled students.
Visa requirements: Citizens of EU, EEA, USA, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Bulgaria for up to 90 days or any of Bulgaria’s neighboring countries,except Turkey. However, the Turkish government facilitates tourism by providing the option for obtaining an e-visa at www.evisa.gov.tr/en/. Citizens of all other countries may need a visa.The Balkan Heritage Foundation can send an official invitation letter that should be used at the relevant embassy to secure a visa to the program. For further details please visit our Visa information page.
Accommodation: Villa Terres Hotel, Karabunar, Bulgaria - in comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC), equipped with a/c and TV in a local newly built hotel. The hotel has a small swimming pool and SPA, free of charge for the participants in the field school. There are cheap laundry services and free Wi-Fi is provided. Extra night - 30 EUR (per night per person), Single room - 200 EUR (for two-week period).
Meals: Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) in the hotel’s restaurant. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Brown-bag lunches during the excursions and days off.
Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products!
Free time: Possible leisure activities during the siesta and days off in and around Karabunar are: swimming / sunbathing at the hotel pool, hiking in the Rhodopi Mountains, wine-tasting at one of many local wineries, visiting local tourist sites, traveling by the narrow gauge train to Velingrad (popular and larger spa and wellness town) or shopping and sightseeing in the neighboring cities of Pazardzhik and Plovdiv.
Insurance: The admission fee does not cover insurance. It is mandatory to arrange your own health insurance before your trip to Bulgaria. All EU citizens can use Bulgarian medical services, as long as they can provide evidence of their home-country health insurance with a card/certificate, etc.
Weather: South-European climate dominates in the field school area, making summers hot (30-40° C, 86-104° F). Rainy and chilly days in this season are rare but not excluded.
What to bring?
Excavation & documentation tools and materials including working gloves are available at the site!
The admission fee is valid only for students who enroll in this field school through the Balkan Heritage Field School (BHFS). Students wishing to benefit from the advantages of the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans must apply through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA and pay the admission fees corresponding to the IFR's terms and conditions.
The BHFS Admission fee includes: Educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), tools, materials, project handbook and issue of Certificate of Attendance, administrative costs and excursions included in the field school program plus relevant entrance fees.
The fees in USD are approximate. Please check current exchange rates!
Super Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1199 EUR (approx. 1402 USD)
Super Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2299 EUR (approx. 2689 USD)
Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1299 EUR (approx.1519 USD)
Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2429 EUR (approx. 2841 USD)
Regular Admission fee for two week project session is 1429 EUR (approx.1671 USD)
Regular Admission fee for four week project session is 2599 EUR (approx. 3040 USD)
Admission Fee Transfer Options:
For further information contact Admissions Office at [email protected]
* 5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:
* 10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:
* 12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:
* 15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available for:
Note, 5% of every admission fee for this project directly supports the Balkan Heritage Protection Fund's activities!