Exploring the Land of the Levantines: History and Archaeology of Medieval Chios.

Period: Medieval and Late Medieval
Code: CHI 24
Session: 31 August - 07 September
Academic credits available:
Cost starting from: 2050 EUR/approx. 2200 USD

The Project and the Course

General Information

Project type: Field school & archaeological field survey

Field school & expedition founded: 2024

The sites: Participants will visit, study and receive training on surveying, recording and mapping medieval settlements, sites and their components; they will study the medieval natural and built landscape, and record features pertaining to human activity on the physical landscape in the northern part of Chios island.

Project venue and accommodation: Participants and staff will stay at the Makuti Beach Bar - Restaurant - Apartments, situated on the coast of Volissos, in NW Chios. Lectures will be taking place at the school of Volissos, a beautiful early-twentieth-century building.

About the project: The course aims to introduce students to the landscape archaeology, historical topography and monumental architecture of the Byzantine-to-the-post Byzantine period (roughly from the 10th-11th century to the 1600s). During the field survey, we will study the town and countryside, and any kind of human activity on the landscape such as settlement patterns, monumental architecture, watch towers, rural churches, fortifications and material culture. Participants will trace the evolution of the Byzantine settlement pattern from the dispersed settlement to the fortified (compact-clustered) village and its components. Hiking along selected medieval trails will give students insights into other archaeological features, such as manor houses, rural towers of the great landowners, village architecture, and the like.


The field school is designed for students and young specialists in heritage, history and archaeology, but we also welcome anyone interested in:

-Medieval civilization in Southeastern Europe.

-Documentation of secular, religious and defensive architecture and decoration.

-Cultural heritage preservation.

-Travel to important heritage sites on Chios island.


BHF partners in this project:

Director: Dr. Ioanna N. Koukounis

Field school session available: 31 August - 07 September 2024

Application deadline: 31 July, 2024

Minimum length of stay: One week

Minimum age: 18

Number of field school places available: 8

Project language: English

Archaeological Context & Period

The island of Chios holds a special place in the Aegean Sea. In the Middle Ages, its commercial, maritime and economic roles emerged at the time of the Commercial Revolution, when the two maritime Republics of Venice and Genoa had consolidated their supremacy in the Mediterranean. In the course of three centuries under the banners of Saint George, patron saint of Genoa, Chios was the most sought-after commercial center in the Levant. Its rise as a hub for international seaborne trade is an achievement credited to the Genoese mercantile spirit, organization, and management. Its overwhelming prosperity attracted people from the West, who settled there for business opportunities, interacted with the local population and adapted to the local culture. As a result, the island’s demography changed and a new social class emerged dubbed “the Levantines”.How did one culture impact the other? What is their heritage that was left behind? During the field school, we will explore the palimpsest of the Byzantine and Genoese material remains and the cultural impact of Eastern and Western encounters.

The Expedition

The expedition focuses on Mount Amani, the island’s northwestern region, a terra incognita in the scholarly record. Harsh, remote, and poor, Mount Amani is nevertheless surprisingly rich in material for the landscape archaeologist and the student of historical topography. Participants will be introduced to different types of historical and archaeological evidence and will be able to use, integrate and contextualize them.

The Field School

In 2024, the project envisions supplementing the database created during the previous seasons by documenting the architecture and frescos (and their condition) of three to six medieval Christian Orthodox chapels or small churches in western Bulgarian borderlands and collecting new data on their history, artifacts and environment.

The Field School is comprised of: 

  • Fieldwork including personal observation of the landscape, recording and documentation of features, and mapping.  

  • Specialized lectures in the Byzantine history of the northeastern Aegean; Christian Orthodox architecture and art; methodology; and types of historical and archaeological evidence. 

  • Excursions and guided tours to Nea Moni (UNESCO monument); Aghion Galas, a medieval settlement built on a rocky spur, on the foothills of which there is a cave with traces of habitation dating from the Neolithic period; the Castle of Chios town; the Kampos, the suburbs of Chios town, where the Byzantine and the Genoese nobles had their summer resorts.

All participants will receive:

  • Project handbook (in PDF version by e-mail)
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the fieldwork hours, educational modules, and sites visited
  • T-shirt

The Team

  • Dr Ioanna N. Koukouni, Byzantine archaeologist.  
  • Ms. Vivi Potamousi MA in Distance Learning, Deputy Mayor responsible for Culture  
  • Dr. Eirini Panou, Byzantine archaeologist, Open University of Cyprus.

The Program

The one-week field school session provides a minimum of ... hours of fieldwork, workshops, lectures and guided tours as follows:


  • Survey in selected sites.


  • Historical context of Chios island and the nearby Anatolian (Turkish) coast and its place in the provincial administration of the Byzantine Empire. The Genoese period of Chios (1304-1566).  
  • Imperial patronage: fresco and mosaic decoration in imperial foundations.  

  • Religious architecture and imperial patronage.  

  • Secular architecture and rural manor houses.  

  • Sigillography.  

  • Numismatics.  

  • Settlement patterns, hamlets, installations.  

  • Defensive architecture – watch towers.  

  • Rural churches.  

  • Material culture.  

  • Heraldry.


  • Introduction to Byzantine sigillography and medieval numismatics 

Guided Tours:

  • Nea Moni monastery  
  • Cave of Aghion Galas

  • Chios Mastic Museum

  • Lectures and workshops take place at the School of Volissos.

The Agenda


31 August 2024

Arrival day:

Arrival and check-in by 7.30 pm.

8.00 pm - Welcome dinner.

Reading Background

  • Koukouni, I.,Chios dicta est…et in Aegaeo sita mari: Historical Archaeology and Heraldry on Chios, Oxford: Archaeopress 2021.  
  • Argenti, P. Ph., The Occupation of Chios by the Genoese and their administration of the island 1346-1566, Cambridge U.P. 1958.  

  • Doula Mouriki, The mosaics of Nea Moni on Chios, Athens 1985.  

  • Bouras, Ch., The architecture of Nea Moni on Chios, Athens, 1982.  

  • Ousterhout, R., “Originality in Byzantine Architecture: The Case of Nea Moni”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 51, No. 1 (Mar. 1992), pp. 48-60.  

  • Herrin, J., Byzantium: The surprising life of a medieval empire. Penguin books 2007.


Travel & Accommodation & Practicalities


Nearest Air Terminal: Chios Airport

Nearest Port: Port of Chios

Or: port of Çesme (Turkey) and thence to Chios

Where to go? Please arrive on 31 August 2024 no later than 16:30pm in Chios, Greece.

Visa requirements: Citizens of EU, EEA, USA, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Bulgaria. 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*: Participants will stay at the Makuti Beach Bar, restaurant and accommodation in Volissos in single-, double- or three-bedrooms. All rooms have showers and wifi. All students will be given a pick-up transfer option from the airport or the port.

Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the reimbursement payment. Meals usually take place in the hotel restaurant, except the brown-bag lunches (when on site and during the excursions). Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Participants will have to pay extra for additional days in the project hotels, for single room accommodation, as well as for any meals and beverages, services or products outside the project package.

Free Time & Trips

Free time: Visits to Nea Moni, Agio Galas, the Chios Mastic Museum (or Panayia Krina) and the winery Ariousios are organized for all field school participants and covered by the reimbursement payment.

Technicalities & Practicalities

Insurance: The reimbursement payment does not cover insurance. It is necessary to arrange your 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: The weather on Chios during September is summery. However, because of the mountainous geophysical relief, land and sea breezes account for cooler temperatures during the evening.

What to bring?

  • Work shoes and clothes that will suit outdoor work – keeping in mind the weather conditions (sunny and warm during the day), sunscreen, a wide brim hat, and long trousers because of the vegetation and insects.
  • Medication - Please bring only the prescription medicines needed. Bringing non-prescription medicine is unnecessary since you can easily buy all basic non-prescription drugs in Greece.
  • Small backpack (for your water bottle, snacks, camera, etc.)
  • A converter to EU-type electrical sockets if needed.
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries!

The Cost

All field schools are conducted as non-profit projects by the Balkan Heritage Foundation, Bulgaria. Their costs, including students' costs related to participation in the field school, are covered by the reimbursement payments made by field school students.

BHFS project reimbursement payment covers: Educational and fieldwork activities, pick-up shuttle on arrival, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), tools, materials, project handbook or readings, issue of Certificate of Attendance, administrative costs, travel related to the fieldwork and the excursions included in the field school program plus relevant entrance fees.

BHFS project reimbursement payment does not include: travel costs to Chios or costs of any activities not included in the field school program; medical products and services and any expenses related to medical quarantine (food delivery, accommodation, etc.).

The costs in USD are approximate. Please check the current exchange rates!

Reimbursement Transfer Options:

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

For further information contact Admissions Office at: [email protected]!


Discounts off the regular cost:

* 5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular cost available for:

  1. Participation in more than one BHFS project in 2024 (discount applies to the second, third, etc. project).
  2. Membership in the Archaeological Institute of America.

* 10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular cost available for:

  1. Participation in any BHFS project/s in the past.

* 12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular cost available for:

  1. Group Participation (three or more people who participate together in one BHFS project in 2024). The discount is valid for each participant.

* 15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular cost is available for:

  1. Group Participation (three or more people, who participate in more than one BHFS project in 2024 (the discount is valid for each participant).
  2. BHFS alumni, who participate in more than one BHFS project in 2024. (discount applies to the second, third, etc. project).
  3. BHFS alumni who attended a full project in the past and return to the same project.


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Exploring the Land of the Levantines: History and Archaeology of Medieval Chios.

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