Romans in Illyricum - Doclea Excavations

Period: Classical Roman
Code: DOCL.EXC.24
Session: To be announced
Academic credits available: 9
Cost starting from: To be announced

The Project and the Course

General Information

Project type: Field school & archaeological excavation

The excavation started: 1890; The field school started: 2017   

Site and venue: Archaeological site of Doclea in the northern suburbs of the Montenegrin capital city of Podgorica and Hotel Bojatours Lux, Podgorica

Period in the project's focus: Classical Roman and Late Roman (1st - 4th century CE)   

About the project: The Romans in Illyricum field school project enables students to take part in an ongoing Roman dig, to learn about the Roman conquest, archaeology and civilization of the eastern Adriatic, and to visit the beautiful Mediterranean towns & coast of Montenegro and Croatia. The field school is targeted for students and young specialists in archaeology, heritage management and museum studies, but anyone interested in field archaeology, Roman civilization, cultural heritage preservation and travel is also welcome.

Major field school topics/activities: archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and recording in regard to specifics of excavation of Classical Roman urban site; finds processing with focus on Roman pottery, glass & coins; introduction to Roman history, archaeology, trade & numismatics in the eastern Adriatic; as well as excursions to significant heritage sites in Montenegro and an optional tour of Dubrovnik (Croatia).   

BHF Partners in this project:    

Dig director: Dr. Lenka Bulatovich, Museums and Galleries of Podgorica 

Research and field school team: Dr. Robyn Le Blanc, UNCG (USA); Miloš Živanović, archaeologist, MA, Center for Conservation and Archaeology of Montenegro; Alexander Manev, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, Balkan Heritage Foundation (Bulgaria); Ivana Živanović, archaeologist, MA (Serbia); Džuro Priblović, archaeologist, MA (Montenegro); Matthew Schueller, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (USA) and Dragan Radović, museum curator, MA, Museums and Galleries of Podgorica (Montenegro).

Field school sessions available:

  • Session 1: To be announced
  • Session 2: To be announced
  • Session 3: To be announced

Application deadline: 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 12   

Project language: English

Academic credits available: Students can receive up to 9 ECTS credits through New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria. 

Experience Required: None   

Special considerations: Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment. The project is not recommended for individuals with special illnesses that might be exacerbated during the intensive outdoor activities.

Note: Citizens of the EU, EEA, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand do not need an entry visa for Montenegro and Croatia. Citizens of countries not mentioned above should check in advance whether they will need entry visas for one or both countries. The cost of any visas is not included in the price of the field school.

Special Requirements:

  • The reimbursement payment does not cover insurance. It is necessary to arrange your own insurance before your trip to Montenegro. 
  • Participants should bring clothes and toiletries suitable for hot and sunny weather, but should also prepare for rainy, windy and chilly days. The average summer temperatures in the area are 25-35° C (77-95° F) or higher.
  • Participants are also expected to prepare for the field school by reading the recommended readings.They are available online.

COVID-19 Safety measures: All participants should read our updated Terms & Conditions regarding BHF's COVID-19 Safety policy.

The Site and the Excavation Project

The Roman city of Doclea is an important urban center of the eastern Adriatic Roman province of Dalmatia (1st - 3rd c. CE), the capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (3rd - 5th c. CE) and the most significant ancient site in Montenegro. It is 4 km (2.5 mi) away from downtown Podgorica, the Montenegrin capital city. In Roman times the city was situated near but apart from the crossings of several main roads and thus isn’t mentioned by the most important Roman itineraries - Tabula Pointingeriana and Itinerarium Antonini. The Romans chose to build Doclea on a plateau bordered on three sides by the Zeta, Moraca and Siralija Rivers considering its strategic position.

The foundation of the city is related to the Roman effort to urbanize the newly established province of Dalmatia in the beginning of the 1st c. CE. Doclea was named after the Illyrian tribe Docleati on which territory it was built. It soon turns into an important trading center and receives the status of municipium during the Flavian Age along with other Dalmatian cities. Romans enforced the city’s protection through mighty 2.5 m - thick walls, towers, battlements and fortified bridges across the rivers. The city is built according to the classical urban grid plan. The East-West Via Principalis features the most important city buildings which are still preserved today: the triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Gallienus, the temple & the statue of Roma, the temple of Diana, a palace, as well as the spacious and richly decorated city baths. The forum design does not deviate from the standard Roman forums at the time: square-shaped with a colonnaded porticoes that run the length of the space. Why the basilica on the forum was dedicated to the 15 year old boy Flavius Frintanus Balbinus, whose gilded statue decorated the forum is still unknown. The city flourishes as a capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (3rd - 5th c. CE). The Early Christians churches and the large episcopal basilica dated to this period are located in the eastern urban and suburban areas both intra and extra murum. The bishop of Doclea Evandros is mentioned among the participants of the 4th Ecumenical Council held in Halkidon 451.

The city’s urban life declines after the Ostrogoths sacked Doclea in 490 CE. It was devastated further during the earthquake of 518 CE. It never restores its glory and during the following turbulent period of Avar and Slavic invasions, the city is finally abandoned. Byzantine authors in the later periods often refer to Doclea as the birthplace of Diocletian and call it Dioclea which confused many researchers by the mid-twentieth century.

The archaeological site of Doclea has attracted the attention of researchers since the 19th century. The first archaeological excavations took place in 1890 – 1892 directed by the Russian researcher Pavle Rovinski by order of King Nikola I of Montenegro. In 1913, Piero Sticotti published the book "Roman town Doclea in Montenegro", which is so far the only monograph of the archaeological site. In the 1960s the necropoli of Doclea were excavated by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. After that, only small-scale excavation projects have been conducted at various sectors of the site. Since 2017, Balkan Heritage Foundation has been supporting the excavation and research of the central residential and trading neighborhood of the Roman city east of the Temple of Capitoline Triad near the Cardo Maximus. In 2019 the Montenegrin and Bulgarian research teams were joined by US scholars from the University of North Carolina , Greensboro and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The Field School

This field school is an amazing opportunity to:

  • dig at a Roman city in Montenegro
  • learn about the Roman colonization & urbanization of the Illyrian lands and the development of Doclea from a Roman colony to one of the richest cities of the eastern Adriatic region
  • practice all basic excavation and recording techniques on the field
  • develop skills in finds processing with focus on pottery, glass & coins
  • expand knowledge on Roman numismatics and trade
  • visit significant archaeological and historic sites, including UNESCO world heritage sites in Montenegro and Croatia.

The field school excavations in 2023 will continue unearthing the rooms belonging to a Roman residential building east of the Temple of Jupiter, Junona, and Minerva (2nd c. CE). Three field school sessions are available: two two-week sessions and one four-week session.

Session 1 is an excellent opportunity for beginners who will be introduced to the methodology and theoretical knowledge needed for engaging in an archaeological excavation of a Roman city. Session 2 is ideal for participants with some (at least two weeks) field experience who will be able to develop more skills and competences regarding the field work as well as finds and samples processing; and to attend special lectures on Roman glass-making and workshops on Roman numismatics and recording & illustration of Roman pottery and glassware. Each two-week session includes 10 working days, 1 day for orientation and introduction; 1 day for excursion; and 1 day-off plus arrival & departure days. Session 3 is a well designed combination of Session 1 and Session 2 with 20 working days, 2 excursion days; 4 days off (one of them with an optional excursion) and plus arrival & departure days.

Students who are required to prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.

All participants will receive:

  • Access to the project recommended readings
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the topics and the hours of the field school activities (fieldwork, lectures, workshops, educational trips, etc.)
  • T-shirt

The Team

Dig director:    

  • Dr. Lenka Bulatovich, Museums and Galleries of Podgorica

Research and field school team:    

  • Dr. Robyn Le Blanc, UNCG (USA);    
  • Miloš Živanović, archaeologist, MA, Center for Conservation and Archaeology of Montenegro;    
  • Alexander Manev, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, Balkan Heritage Foundation (Bulgaria);    
  • Ivana Živanović, archaeologist, MA (Serbia); Džuro Priblović, archaeologist, MA (Montenegro);    
  • Matthew Schueller, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (USA) 
  • Dragan Radović, museum curator, MA, Museums and Galleries of Podgorica (Montenegro).

The Program

The two-week Sessions 1 and 2 provide a minimum of 90 hours and the four-week Session 3 provides a minimum of 180 hours of fieldwork, workshops/lab work, lectures/instructions and guided tours as follows:

Sessions 1, 2 and 3 

Field Work

  • Use of excavation tools
  • Practice of basic working techniques
  • Identification of archaeological contexts
  • Field record - field journal, context sheets and labels, ground plans and cross-sections, field photography, etc.
  • Processing of archaeological finds


  • History and Archaeology of Doclea and Introduction to the Excavation Area   
  • Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation at Doclea
  • Hygiene, Health, and Safety at the Site


  • How to Use a Dumpy Level
  • How to Draw a Ground-plan/elevation-plan/cross-section using scale
  • Photography for archaeologists
  • Finds processing   

Guided tours covered by the reimbursement payment:

  • Tour of the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica including the Museum of Podgorica


Sessions 1 and 3   


  • History of Roman Eastern Adriatic Provinces (2nd century BCE - 4th century CE)
  • Architecture and Urban Development in Doclea
  • Roman Trade and Commerce with Emphasis on the Adriatic Area
  • Typology of Roman Pottery and Glass, with Examples from Doclea   
  • From the Field to Storage: Review of Basic Methods for Uncovering, "First Aid", Consolidation in Situ, Cleaning, Sorting, Labeling, Documenting and Storing Ceramic Artifacts
  • Introduction to the Field Journal; Contextual Sheets, Log Book and Other Record Forms

  • Three Dimensional Positioning of Finds, Features and Structures
  • Stratigraphy: Horizontal and Vertical
  • Field Graphic and Photographic Documentation
  • Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research
  • Excavation Completion. Post Excavation Work and Analyses

Guided tours covered by the reimbursement payment:   

Optional tour: Two-day tour of Dubrovnik (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Croatia for the additional fee of 180 EUR  (Priced based on minimum of six attendees.  Deadline for enrolling in tour is 31 March.)


Sessions 2 and 3


  • Roman Glass-making
  • Late Roman Coins in Illyricum (3th - 4th century CE)


  • Artifact Recording and Illustration: Roman pottery and glassware  
  • Illustration (using graphic software) of Roman Pottery and Glassware – optional but free. Please consider bringing your laptop with you.
  • Roman Numismatics

Guided tours covered by the reimbursement payment:   

  • Tour of St. Nikola Monastery, Skadar Lake and Bar Old Town Quarter


  • Fieldwork - expect to perform all types of fieldwork at the site, from digging, brushing to mapping and sampling as well as finds processing along with lab work
  • Lectures & workshops take place at the site's premises
  • Field instructions and training take place at the site


The Agenda


First day

Arrival in Podgorica  by 7.00 pm. Registration. Traditional welcome dinner

Transfers from Podgorica airport, train station or bus terminal can be arranged for an additional fee upon request

Second day

Morning: Orientation

Afternoon: Lectures   

Evening: Sightseeing of Podgorica

Working days

6.15 - 8.30 am - Fieldwork*

8.30 - 9.00 am - Breakfast

9.00 - 11.00 am - Fieldwork*

11.00 - 11.15 am - Break

11.15 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork*

1.30 - 2.30 pm - Lunch

2.30 - 5.00 pm - Siesta break

5.00 - 8.00 pm - Lectures/Workshops/Finds processing

8.15 - 9.15 pm - Dinner

* In case of rain, the field school program provides substitute activities including finds processing workshops and film projections

Excursion days

Tour of Budva and Kotor Bay Area (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Visit to Bar Old Town Quarter and Sutomore Beach Area


Optional trip for students in Sessions 1 and 3 to Dubrovnik (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Croatiafor the additional fee of 180 EUR (Price based on minimum of six attendees.)

The BHFS team can assist with organization of various leisure activities for participants during their free time such as hiking, city sightseeing, wine-tasting, movies, shopping, kayaking, going to the beach etc.

Last day

Departure by 11.00 am 

Transfers to the Podgorica airport, train station or bus terminal can be arranged for an additional fee upon request.

Reading Background   


Baković M. Archaeological Research on the Locality of Doclea in 2009, Building № 9, New Antique Doclea I, Podgorica 2010. 67-7

Baković M. Preliminary Results of the Research into the Area of the Capitol Temple of the Doclea Site, New Antique Doclea II, Podgorica 2011, 09-26   

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.

Cvetković I. Numismatic Material From 2011 Excavations at the Archaeological Site Doclea, New Antique Doclea III, Podgorica 2012, 105-115.

Drašković D.,and Živanović M. Room 3/IX Pottery, a Contribution to Introduction of Doclea Everyday Life,New Antique Doclea II, Podgorica 2011, 57-98

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

Levi P.  Podgoritza Cup,Heytrop Journal 4 / 1 Oxford 1963, 55-60

Munro J, and Ruskin A.  Excavations in Montenegro, The Athenaeum vol. 2 / 1893 London, 459 – 460, 632.

Pett L. Doclea, Geophysical Survey Report, Oktober 2007, New Antique Doclea I, Podgorica, 2010, 07-44

Rehren T., and Cholakova A., Živanović M. The Making of Black Glass in Late Roman Doclea, Montenegro, New Antique Doclea III, Podgorica 2012, 71-91.

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

Sanader M. Dalmatia – Eine Roemische Provinz an der Adria, Mainz am Rhein 2009. 89,91,97,108,119

Sejović D., and Cemanović – Kuzmanović A.,Velimirović – Žižić O. La necropole romaine a Duklja (Doclea) pres de Titograd en Montenegro, Inventaria Archeologica fasc, 8, Beograd 1965

Sticotti P. Die Romische Stadt Doclea in Montenegro, Kaiserlische Akademie der Wisserschaften, Schiften der Balkankommission, Antiquarische Abteilung H. 6, Wien 1913

Živanović M. Archaeological Research into Room 3/IX, Preliminary Observations, New Antique Doclea II, Podgorica 2011, 27-56

Živanović M. and Stamenković A. On City Walls Of Ancient Doclea, New Antique Doclea III, Podgorica 2012, 115-145   


Travel & Accommodation & Practicalities    



Nearest Air Terminal: Podgorica (TGD)

The venue: Hotel Bojatours Lux, Podgorica

How to get there? If participants arrive at either the Podgorica airport or bus/train stations, a taxi transfer to the project hotel in Downtown Podgorica can be arranged by request for an additional fee of 12 EUR.

Visa requirements: Citizens of EU, EEA, USA, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand do not need a visa to visit Montenegro and Croatia. 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*: The participants will be accommodated in the comfortable Hotel Bojatours Lux located near the historic neighborhood of Podgorica. There is a/c and wi-fi. Participants will be housed 2-3 people per room. Each room has a/c, free wi-fi, and a private restroom. Clothes washing service is available for a small fee. Participants will be given a free lift to and from the archaeological site on a daily basis.

Participants who prefer to stay in single rooms or at different type of accommodation can secure their own lodgings in Podgorica. They will receive a deduction in the reimbursement payment of 150 EUR for 2 weeks and 300 EUR for 4 weeks. They must meet at Hotel Bojatours Lux for the daily pick-ups.

In case of a small number of (less than 5) registrations, participants will be accommodated together with the team members in the air-conditioned cabin at the archaeological base amidst the ancient ruins of Doclea, in rooms with two to three beds. The cabin has 2 shared bathrooms with showers and WC. Wi-Fi and a washing machine are available there for free.

Accommodation before and after the project is possible only at the Hotel Bojatours Luxl in Podgorica.   

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

Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the reimbursement payment. Meals will usually take place in the dining room at the hotel, except for excursions. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Participants have to pay extra for any meals and beverages, services or products outside the project package.   


Free Time & Trips   


Free time: Podgorica and Doclea area offer many opportunities for good entertainment, kayaking, hiking, wine-tasting, sightseeing, shopping etc. For more information see: It takes just 30-40 min by either train or bus from Podgorica to the splendid Adriatic coast of Montenegro. Guided visits of Podgorica, including the downtown area, the Museums and Galleries of the City, the town of Kotor and Kotor Bay (UNESCO world heritage site), Budva, St. Nikola Monastery, Skadar Lake and Bar are organized for all field school participants and are covered by the reimbursement payment.

Extra trips: The participants in Sessions 1 and 3 can take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursion to Dubrovnik, Croatia for the additional fee of 180 EUR.   


Technicalities & Practicalities


Insurance: The reimbursement payment does not cover insurance. It is mandatory to arrange your own health insurance before your trip to Montenegro.

Weather: South-European (Mediterranean) climate with hot summers - the average summer temperatures in the area are 25-35° C (77-95° F) or higher. Rainy days in this season are not unheard of.

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)   
  • Wide brim hat   
  • Small backpack (for water bottle, snacks, camera, etc.)
  • Medication -- Please bring only the prescription medicines needed as you can buy all basic non-prescription drugs in Montenegro   
  • A converter to EU-type electrical sockets if needed   
  • Equipment and tools: Participants will not need to bring drawing or measuring supplies, working gloves, nor any other tools. These will be provided by the field school.
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries.


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 [email protected]


Academic credits   


New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credit units to students for attending any of two-week sessions (1 and 2) and 9 ECTS credits for attending the four-week session (3). Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details: Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records.




Romans in Illyricum - Doclea Excavations

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