Workshop for Conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery

Period: Ancient Greek and Hellenistic
Code: APDR.WRK 23
Session: To be announced
Academic credits available: 6
Cost starting from: To be announced

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.   

The field school started: 2009   

Venue: the summer resort town of Sozopol (ancient Apollonia Pontica) on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

Artifacts & monuments in the project's focus: The pottery for the workshop originates from the ancient Greek and Hellenistic necropolis of Apollonia Pontica (6th – 2nd century BCE) which is one of the biggest ancient Greek necropoleis ever excavated. The vessels used for conservation originate from the cult fireplaces in the necropolis. They are provided by the Archaeological Museum – Sozopol, Bulgaria.

Periods in the project's focus: Archaic and Classical Greek, Hellenistic (6th – 2nd century BCE)

BHF partners in this project:  

Workshop directors: Krastina Panayotova, PhD in Archaeology, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Teodora Bogdanova, Ph.D. in Archaeology, Curator at Museum of Archaeology - Sozopol; Adjunct Professor, CPCE, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria

Chief Instructor:  Daniela Cherneva, PhD in Archaeological Conservation, BHF affiliate conservator  

Field School coordinator: Nayden Prahov, PhD in Archaeology, Program Director of the Balkan Heritage Foundation and Assistant Professor at the National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgaria.

Field school session available: To be announced

Application Deadlines: To be announced

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 8

Academic credits available: Participants can receive up to 6 European academic credits through New Bulgarian University.

Language: English

Experience required: No

Special requirements: Good physical condition and command of manual operations. All participants should bring clothes and toiletries suitable for hot and sunny weather, although the weather might be sometimes chilly and rainy. It is recommended that participants bring their laptops with at least 6 GB free disk space and a mouse. Operation system recommended: Windows Vista 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 labs and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.

 Archaeological and Historical context

Apollonia Pontica (present-day Sozopol, Bulgaria) is one of the most ancient towns on the western Black Sea coast. The city, founded by Miletian colonists around 610 BCE, was named Apollonia Pontica, in honor of the patron deity of Miletus - Apollo. The Ancient authors identify the philosopher named Anaximander as the founder of the city. It became an autonomous and strong democratic polis and important trade center between Ancient Greece and Thrace. Thanks to its strong navy and naturally protected harbors, Apollonia kept control of the major merchant road along the western Black Sea Coast, called Via Pontica, for several centuries. The city preserved its independence during the campaigns of Phillip II of Macedon (342-339 BCE) and Alexander the Great (335 BCE) but in 72 BCE it was conquered, pillaged and burned by the Roman legions of Marcus Lucullus. The victors took the most prized trophy to Rome: the colossal statue of Apollo. The city succeeded in restoring its former glory and was known in the Roman World as Apollonia Magna (Great Apollonia). Following the Christian mainstream tradition, its name was changed to Sozopol in the 4th century CE. Despite the damage, it survived the period of the Great Migration of People (4th - 7th century CE) and entered the Middle Ages as a focal point of long-lasting Byzantine-Bulgarian conflicts.

The large necropolis of Apollonia Pontica, dated to the 6th - 2ndcentury BCE and 4th - 6th century CE, is Sozopol's most important archaeological site today. It was once outside the ramparts of the town, along the sea coast in what is today the Harmani beach area and Budzhaka peninsula. Here archaeologists have discovered more than 2500 ancient graves. Some of them contained impressive artifacts such as painted pottery, funerary reliefs, jewels and terracotta statuettes.

The collection of ancient Greek vases from the necropolis is among the richest in the world. The most representative part of it is kept in the Archaeological Museum – Sozopol, Bulgaria but some artifacts are now in the Louvre Museum (Paris, France), the Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg, Russia), the Pergamon Museum (Berlin, Germany) and the National Museum of History, Sofia, Bulgaria. The vessels for conservation originate from the cult fireplaces in the necropolis. They are provided by the Archaeological Museum – Sozopol, Bulgaria. The workshop’s main initiative is to conserve pottery from these specific contexts.


   The Workshop

The Workshop for Conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery will guide the participants through the history of Ancient Greek pottery and the process of pottery conservation, restoration, documentation and study. Both the theoretical and practical courses will be based on Ancient Greek pottery found in Sozopol (the ancient Greek city of Apollonia Pontica on the Black Sea Coast ). The course includes three modules: 1) practical work in conservation of ancient pottery (involving authentic pottery shards found in the necropolis of Apollonia Pontica); 2) lectures on topics related to the archaeological context of conserved vessels and to conservation process of ancient Greek pottery; 3) excursions to the ancient coastal towns of Nessebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a sightseeing tour of Sozopol (including study visits to their archaeological museums). Refer to the Course Program and Agenda below.


By the end of the workshop the participants will:

  • be introduced to the basic methods for conservation and documentation of ancient pottery;
  • be able to develop basic/further practical skills (depending on participant's initial level of qualification) in ancient pottery conservation and illustration;
  • deepen their knowledge through first-hand experience with ancient Mediterranean/European History and Archaeology;
  • meet professionals, who work in the areas of Classical Archaeology and Pottery Conservation and Documentation.

The workshop has taken place since 2009.  The instructors and the students have conserved more than 180 Ancient Greek vases.


All participants will receive:

  • Project handbook (in PDF by e-mail );
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the topics and the hours of the fieldschool activities (fieldwork, lectures, workshops, educational trips, ets.).

The Team

Workshop directors:   

  • Krastina Panayotova, PhD in Archaeology, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences      
  • Teodora Bogdanova, Ph.D. in Archaeology, Curator at Museum of Archaeology - Sozopol; Adjunct Professor, CPCE, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria

Chief Instructor:    

  • Daniela Cherneva, PhD in Archaeological Conservation, BHF affiliate conservator

Field School coordinator:    

  • Nayden Prahov, PhD in Archaeology, Program Director of the Balkan Heritage Foundation and Assistant Professor at the National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgaria.

The Program

The workshop provides a minimum of 75 hours of training, instructions, lectures and guided tours as follows:


  • Conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery (part I & part II)
  • Technology, Typology and Chronology of the Greek and Hellenistic Pottery with Examples from Apollonia Pontica 
  • Ancient Greek Cemeteries and Funeral Rites with Examples from the western Black Sea Coast (according to historical and archaeological evidences)   
  • History and Archaeology of Apollonia Pontica


  • Conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery (with fragmented original pottery from Apollonia Pontica
  • Archaeological Documentation of Ancient Greek (drawing, graphic reconstruction, photographing, description, etc.) 


Guided Tours

The Agenda


First day

Arrival and check-in by 7.30 pm

8.00 - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian welcome dinner.

Meeting time/point on arrival date: 7:45 pm Dom Mladenovi guesthouse garden

Transfers from Burgas or Varna airports, train or bus stations may be arranged upon request for an additional fee.

Second day

Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and collaborative universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breakers.

Afternoon: Town sightseeing and orientation walk.

Work days

7.50 - 8.30 am - Breakfast;

8.30 - 1. 00 pm - Workshops on conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery; 

1.00 - 5.00 / 5.30 pm - Lunch and free time; 

5.00 / 5.30 - 7.30 pm - Lectures and workshops on conservation and documentation of Ancient Greek pottery; 

7.30 - 9.00 pm - Dinner.


8.00 - 9.00 am - Breakfast;   

10.00 am - 5.00 pm - Visit to Nessebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) - sightseeing and free time;


1 day

Departure day

8.00-10.00 am - Breakfast;   

Check-out by 11:30 am

Reading background   


Boardman, John. The History of Greek Vases: Potters, Painters and Pictures, 2006, Thames & Hudson.

Bouzek, J. Studies of Greek Pottery in the Black Sea Area. Oxford, 2003.   

Cherneva, D. Richly Decorated Pottery from Apollonia Pontica (4th Century B.C.). Technical Study, Damage Phenomena, and Approach to Conservation. - Report in the Interim Meeting of the ICOM-CC and Glass Working Group and Corpus Vitrearum - ICOMOS in Amsterdam (In print)

Cherneva, D. Investigations on the Gilding Technology of Antique Ceramics from Apollonia Pontica. Archaeologia Bulgarica, XVII, 2, Sofia, 2013, 39-53.

Cherneva, D. Archaeological glass from a mound in Pamuklia (Bulgaria),1st -2nd century AD: Identification, damage phenomena and conservation, Poster, 17th Triennial Conference ICOM-CC, 2014 Melbourne, Australia.

Cook, R., P. Dupont. East Greek Pottery. London, New York, 1998. p. 1-10; 26 – 70; 77 – 94; 129 – 131; 192 – 206.   

Cook, Robert Manuel. Greek Painted Pottery (Handbook of Archaeology), 1997, Routledge.

Panayotova, K. Burial and post-burial rites in the necropolises of the Greek colonies on the Bulgarian Black Sea Littoral. - In: Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea - 2, vol. I. BAR International Series, 2007, 87 – 126.

Panayotova, K. The Necropolis of Apollonia Pontica in Kalfata / Bugjaka: In.- Docter, R., Kr. Panayotova, J. de Boer, L. Donnellan, W. van der Put, B. Bechtold, Apollonia Pontica, 2007, Gent, 2007

Pavlova, L., D. Cherneva, N. Velinov. Study on Red-figure Ancient Ceramics. - In Proceedings of the University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, Sofia, 2011. 

Pena, J. Theodore. Pottery in the Archaeological Record, 2007.

Sparkes, Brian. Greek Pottery. The Introduction., 1991, Manchester University Press.


Travel, Accommodation & Practicalities



Project venue: the picturesque, small Black Sea coastal town of Sozopol, Bulgaria is a popular summer destination for tourists.

The nearest air terminals: Burgas airport (45 km/28 mi), Varna airport (160 km/100 mi). If participants arrive at one of these airports, a transfer to Sozopol may be arranged by request. Transfers prices are:

Burgas Airport - Sozopol - 31 EUR (60 BGN); Burgas downtown - Sozopol - 26 EUR (50 BGN); Varna - Sozopol - 102 EUR (200 BGN); Sofia - Sozopol - 225 EUR (440 BGN).

Transfers can be shared by several participants.

How to get there? Bus lines connect Sozopol with Burgas, Sofia (the Bulgarian capital) and Plovdiv.

All participants will receive a travel info-sheet in advance with basic travel instructions and information how to get to the hotel.

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 & Meals


Accommodation*: Accommodation is either at Dom Mladenovi guest house or at  VMK Military Club, both of which have comfortable ensuite rooms with two to three beds, bathrooms with shower and WC, a/c, refrigerators, TV. The hotels are located very close to the town beaches, the Old Town Quarter, the Archaeological Museum and within 15 min walking distance from the archaeological site. Wi-Fi is available on the first floor of the lobby area. Staying an extra day costs 25 EUR. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee of 120 EUR per week.

Alternative more luxurious accommodation (single, double or triple rooms) is available for an additional fee of 120 to 180 EUR per week upon request at Villa Kera. Places are limited.

For those who prefer higher class accommodation, the BHFS recommends the following hotels in Sozopol: Hotel Casa del Mare and Hotel Fiesta. All participants who organize and pay extra for their own accommodation will receive a discount of 75 EUR (per week) off the reimbursement payment. 

Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation!

Meals: Daily breakfast and the official welcome and the farewell dinners are covered by the reimbursement payment. Students are responsible for their own lunch and dinners.

Sozopol offers variety of restaurants that can meet everyone’s preferences and dietary requirements – from fast food options to cozy gourmet restaurants. The average meal price (soup/salad, main dish and dessert) can cost between 6 to 12 USD. The project team will recommend restaurants for different preferences (cuisine, cost, dietary needs) and will arrange discounts for the students.   

*Subject to change. May be substituted with similar level accommodation.   


Free Time & Trips


Free time:  Leisure activities during the free time as swimming, sunbathing, walking, etc. can be facilitated by organizers.

Extra trips and excursions: BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take trips to some worth seeing historical sites and towns nearby. BHFS encourages participants in the current project to visit after the field school:   

  • Ancient city of Plovdiv on their way to the Bulgarian capital Sofia (the entire trip from Sozopol is about 370 km/ 230 mi)
  • Istanbul, Turkey (340 km/ 215 mi from Sozopol).   

BHFS can assist the participants who plan to organize their own trips with trip advice 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. Suggested travel ideas and excursions before/after the field school.  


Technicalities & Practicalities


Insurance: The reimbursement payment does not cover insurance. It is necessary to arrange your own insurance before your trip to Bulgaria. All EU citizens can use Bulgarian medical services as long as they provide evidence of their home-country health insurance with a card/certificate, etc.

Weather: A southern European (subtropical) climate dominates in the region, making summers hot (30-40° C/ 86-104° F) but breezy. Rainy and chilly days in this season are rare but not excluded.

What to bring?

  • Participants are expected to bring clothing suitable to the workshop’s environment (both urban areas and countryside) and the weather conditions from hot and sunny to chilly and rainy. Light clothes and sun-hats for the sunny days as well as raincoats for probable rainy and windy days are recommended.    
  • Comfortable shoes - visiting some of the sites requires walking on country roads and medieval cobble stone streets.     
  • Wide brim hat   
  • A small backpack (for your water bottle, snacks, camera, etc.) 
  • Swimming suits and sunscreen
  • 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 Bulgaria.
  • A converter to EU type electricity wall-plug if needed.   
  • EQUIPMENT: Participants are encouraged to bring their PC’s having at least 6 GB free disk space, a mouse and an USB flash drive. Operating system recommended: Windows Vista or newer. 
  •  A good attitude for work, fun, study and adventures ;)


The Cost   


In order to participate in this educational project the BHFS expects all participants to reimburse their related costs, i.e. B&B accommodation (hotel + breakfast per day), tools, materials, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and other administrative costs. All participants are invited to support the project realization through donations. Information about all related costs will be published as soon as the WHO organization announces the end of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Reimbursement Transfer Options:

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

For further information contact Admissions Office at bhfs.[email protected]

Academic Credits

New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credits to students for attending this project. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details: Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records.




Workshop for Conservation of Ancient Greek Pottery

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