North Macedonia

Workshops for Conservation of Roman Pottery and Glass

Period: Roman and Late Roman
Code: RPGDR.WRK 20
Session 1: 6 - 19 June (Pottery)
Session 2: 6 - 26 June (Pottery & Glass)
Academic credits available: up to 9
Admission fee starting from: tba

The Project and the Course

General information

Project type: Conservation workshop & field school. The balanced agenda of theoretical and practical activities on pottery and glass conservation and documentation and the  team flexibility make this project suitable for both Beginners and Advanced (either volunteers or students) in conservation.   

The course is designed primarily for students in Archaeological Conservation, Archaeology, Anthropology, History, Art History, and other related scientific fields.

The field school started: 2009

Artifacts & monuments in the project's focus: authentic Roman and Late Roman pottery and glass shards from the Roman and Late Roman collection of National Institution Stobi, Republic of North Macedonia; Replicas of Roman and Late Roman glass vessels.   

See the published results of the workshop (2010 - 2014) here.   

Periods in the project's focus: Roman and Late Roman (1st century BC - 6th century CE)  

Venue: Archaeological site of Stobi, Republic of North Macedonia. The Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman city was a significant urban center in Antiquity and capital of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda in the Late Antiquity.    

Since 2012 Stobi is included in the World Monuments Watch List among the monuments with universal significance - Read more here.

Major workshop activities: The main goal of this program is to provide theoretical and hands-on training experience on pottery and glass conservation. It does so through the exposure of students to Stobi's site lab, enabling them to evaluate and appreciate similarities and differences in conservation problems, approaches, methods, technique, design and material choice applied on different types of artifacts. The participants will work with first with replicas and then with authentic pottery and glass vessels from the ancient city of Stobi, as well as terracotta figurines.

BHF partners in this projectNI Stobi, Republic of North Macedonia, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria

Chief conservator: Biljana Jankulovska - Peeva (Conservator, NI Stobi)

Field School coordinators: Dr Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage Foundation & Field School Program Director) and Biljana Jankulovska - Peeva (Conservator, NI Stobi)

Project sessions available:

  • Session 1: Two week session on pottery conservation: 6 - 19 June 2020 


  • Session 2: Three week session on pottery & glass conservation: 6 - 26 June 2020  

Application deadlines: until the places are filled, or 25 April 2020

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

Language: English

Experience required: None 

Special requirements: Good physical condition and command of manual operations. The average summer temperatures in the area are 25-38 C or higher. All participants should bring clothes suitable for hot and sunny weather, although the weather in June might be sometimes chilly.    

It is recommended that participants bring their laptops having at least 20 GB free disk space and a mouse. Operating system recommended: Windows XP or newer, Mac OSX 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 site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.   

If you are interested in an even more comprehensive experience with pottery conservation, check our CONSERVATION OF ANCIENT POTTERY PACK combining 2 different conservation Balkan Heritage Field School projects in two Balkan countries - North Macedonia and Bulgaria.


The Workshop

In 2020, the Workshop for Conservation and Documentation of Roman Pottery and Glass will be hosted for a 10th year by the National Institution Stobi, R. of North Macedonia at the Roman city of Stobi (today an archaeological park). It provides an unique opportunity for students and volunteers to gain comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experience in Roman and Late Roman pottery and glass conservation. In the same time, the participants are guided through the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman pottery and glass and consequent stages of their study, conservation, restoration and documentation. Both the theoretical and practical parts of the course will be based on ceramic and glass vessels found in the ancient city of Stobi.    

During the first two project weeks, students begin their training with replicas of ancient vessels.Once they reach an acceptable level of skill, accuracy and precision  and then progress to originals . Most students will be able to master conservation and restoration efforts within the course of this field school and expect to complete work on 3-5 artifacts by the end of the program, depending on the initial state of objects’ conservation, the necessity of conservation treatment and the individual performance of the student.    

The activities in the third project week will be focused on basic principles in conservation of ancient glass. The participants will practice on originals and replicas of Roman glass vessels.    

The project includes three modules: practical work in documentation and conservation of Roman and Late Roman pottery and glass: lectures, training and behind-the-scenes study visits and excursions to the town of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea LyncestisOhrid and Ohrid Lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site), ancient Macedonian capitals in Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece as well as to a traditional pottery workshop. Refer to the Course description and Workshop agenda below.


By the end of the workshop the participants will:

  • be able to develop basic/further practical skills (depending on participant's initial level of qualification) in ancient pottery and glass conservation. 
  • get acquainted with the basic methods of all the required documentation for conservation and restoration of ancient pottery and glass, which includes: drawing by hand and using graphic software, as well as photo documentation. 
  • learn about the forms, types and technology of Roman and Late Roman pottery and glassware.   
  • deepen their knowledge through first-hand experience of Roman and Late Roman History and Archaeology in the region of ancient Macedonia.
  • meet professionals who work in the areas of Pottery and Glass Conservation, as well as Classical Archaeology.            


All participants will receive:

  • Project handbook (in PDF version by e-mail and a hard copy upon arrival);
  • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate with the fieldwork hours, educational modules, and sites visited;   
  • T-shirt.

NB! Students who must prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance. Students registering for academic credit hours must take an exam.


Archaeological and historical context

Why Stobi? The first historic records to mention Stobi belong to the Roman historian Titus Livy ( ca. 197 BCE). According to Livy, Stobi became an important center for salt trading after the Roman conquest 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 crossroads of the ancient roads that ran along the two rivers Axios (Vardar) and Erigon (Crna). The first road connected the North and South of the Balkans as it does today, while the second to the southwest connected Stobi with the Via Egnatia near Heraclea Lyncestis (present day Bitola) and to the northeast continued to Serdica (present day Sofia).   



This commercial and strategic position brought Stobi long-term prosperity, especially in the period between the 1 st and 3rd centuries CE. Several monumental buildings in the city are dated to this period: the Theater, the first City Wall, Porta Heraclea, the Public Building with Arches (most probably the Stobi library), the Casa Romana, the Synagogue, as well as the water supply system. In 267 CE the city suffered from raids conducted by the Goths and Herules. At the end of the 3rd century CE, Stobi was devastated by an earthquake; it was later rebuilt but following a different urban plan. Most of the ruins visible today belong to buildings dating to this period.

In the 4 th century CE, Stobi became an important Christian center and the seat of powerful bishops. Late, in the 5 th- 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 6 th century CE. Some records mention a small Slavic 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 11 th century CE. 

The Program


Two-week workshop session will focus only on pottery conservation and will provide a minimum of 80 hours of practical work, workshops/lab work, lectures/instructions and guided tours as follows:    

Workshops and practical work:         

  • Conservation and Restoration of replicas and authentic Roman and Late Roman ceramic vessels (with fragmented pottery from Stobi) - series of workshops;
  • Archaeological Documentation and Illustration (drawing, graphic reconstruction, image processing using graphic software, photographing, description etc.) of  Roman and Late Roman ceramic vessels - series of workshops;      


  • Review of Basic Methods for Uncovering, "first aid", Consolidation in situ, Cleaning, Sorting out and Storing of Ceramic Artifacts
  • Material Science and Technology. Clay Properties and Changes during Firing        
  • Deterioration of Ceramics Objects. Soluble Salts, Porosity, Firing; Choosing the Most Appropriate Conservation Treatment for Each Object
  • Conservation and Restoration of Roman and Late Roman Objects. Basic Steps and Principles. Ethics and Conservation. Cleaning of Ceramic Objects: methods of dirt removal, mechanical and chemical methods of salt efflorescence removal, desalination of the ceramic body. Extraction of cleaning and/or desalination agents from the ceramic body. Consolidation – need, methods and materials; requirements. Assembly of the fragments – adhesives and requirements. Methods of temporary fixing. Molds and temporary supports. Gap filling, modelling and finishing touches            
  • Required Documentation for Pottery and Glass Conservation:    
    • Graphic documentation
    • Graphic reconstruction
    • Photographing
    • Conservation journal
    • Conservation history list 



  • List of used materials and safety data sheets
  • Ancient Traditions and Technologies in Ceramic Production;   
  • Typology and Chronology of Roman and Late Roman Pottery (with examples from Stobi);   
  • Archaeological Record and Illustration of Roman and Late Roman pottery;   
  • Introduction to Technical Photography
  • History of Stobi and Macedonia in the Roman and Late Roman period (2nd century BCЕ - 6th century CE);
  • History of the ancient Heraclea Lyncestis and Bitola;  
  • History of Ohrid, the ancient city of Lychnidos (UNESCO Heritage Site);   

Guided tours:   

          The three-week field school session will focus on pottery and glass conservation and will provide a minimum of 120 astronomical hours of practical work, workshops/lab work, lectures/instructions and guided tours. The three-week session's educational activities incorporate all two-week session's ones plus the following:     

          Workshops and practical work:    

        • Conservation of Roman and Late Roman Glass Objects (with fragmented replicas of Roman vessels):
        • Mechanical and chemical cleaning of selected original Roman and Late Roman glass shards      
        • Recording and documentation of glass shards and vessels
        • Preliminary assembly, final assembly using medical tape, application of omega clips, application of resin, removal of the omega clips, cleaning of extra resin and adhesive, mold making (using dental silicon and rubber) application of the gap filling resin, refining the additions.
        • Lectures:   
          • History of Pre-Roman and Roman Glass Technology. Core formed glass vessels, mosaic glass; mold formed vessels, glass blowing, free blown vessels, mold blown objects, cage cups etc.
          • Chemical Composition of Glass. Forms of natural silica, forms of natural glasses.
          • Deterioration of glass, physical damage, chemical deterioration.
          • Basic Techniques in Ancient Glass Conservation and Restoration: cleaning of glass, preliminary assembly, final assembly using medical tape, application of omega clips, application of resin, removal of the omega clips, cleaning of extra resin and adhesive, mold making (using dental silicon and rubber) application of the gap filling resin, refining the additions
          • Materials Used for Cleaning, Stabilization and Conservation of Ancient Glass. Choosing a consolidants and adhesives for archaeological glass, solubility, ageing properties, reversibility, working properties.
          • Roman and Late Roman Glass Forms, Based on Examples from Stobi
          • History and Archaeology of the Macedonian Capitals Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site)      


          Guided tours to:     

          • Lectures will take place at the cabins, lab and the site.  
          • Workshops will take place in Stobi's lab.
          • Instructions and training - will take place in Stobi's lab.

The Agenda


First day

Arrival date: 6 June 2020

Arrival at archaeological site of Stobi by 7.00 pm, check-in and registration.    

8/8.30 - 10.30 pm - Short orientation walk in Gradsko. Traditional welcome dinner. 

Transfers from one of the nearest airports: Skopje (R. of North Macedonia) or Thessaloniki (Greece) can be arranged for an additional fee upon request.

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

Second Day

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

Afternoon: Lectures and Sightseeing of the archaeological site of Stobi.

Work days

7.50 am - 8.30 am - Breakfast

8.30 am - 1.00 pm - WORKSHOPS/LECTURES, with 30-min break*

1.00 pm - 4.00 pm - Lunch and siesta break.

4.00 pm - 7.30 pm - WORKSHOPS/LECTURES

8.00 pm - 9.00 pm - Dinner

The WORKSHOPS and LECTURES cover different aspects of the Roman and Late Roman pottery and glass conservation and documentation methods and practices.

During the evenings, the project team can organize or assist participants in organizing leisure activities such as films, sports and visits to the neighboring towns/villages. 

Excursion Schedule

The following excursions are included in the field school program and covered by the admission fee: 

Saturday (13 June): Guided visit of the Old Town Quarter of Bitola, the city museum and the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis.

Sunday (14 June): Guided visit of Ohrid and the Ohrid Lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site)     

Sunday (21 June): Guided visit to the ancient Macedonian capitals Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Greece. ONLY FOR THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE THREE-WEEK SESSION. 

Participants who attend the three-week session will be able to attend all the tours.

Day off

20 June (Saturday)

For the participants in the three week session. 

Departure days

Departure after breakfast.      


  • Two week session: 19 June, 2020     
  • Three week session: 26 June, 2020  

Transfers to either Skopje (R. of North Macedonia) or Thessaloniki (Greece) airports can be arranged for an additional fee upon request.


Reading background   


Balkan Heritage Foundation, National Institution Stobi, 2016 - Workshop for Conservation of Roman and Late Roman Pottery from Stobi (2010 - 2014)

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

Bray, Ch., Dictionary of Glass, Materials and Techniques (Pennsylvania Press, 2001)   

Buys, S., V. Oakley - The Conservation and Restoration of Ceramics, (Oxford, 1993); 3-163.

Davison, S. - Conservation and Restoration of Glass, (Oxford, 2006); 1-242.

Elder, A., S. Madsen, G.,Brown, C., Herbel, C., Collins, S., Whelan, C., Wenz, S., Alderson and L. Kronthal. 1997. Adhesives and Consolidants in Geological and Paleontological Conservation: A Wall Chart. SPNHC Leaflets, Vol. 1 No. 2.

Hayes, J. W. - Handbook of Mediterranean Roman Pottery (British Museum Press, 1997).

Koob, S. P. - Conservation and Care of Glass Objects (London, 2006).      

Peacock, D.P.S., Pottery in the Roman World, (London, 1982).

Sease, C. 1992. A conservation manual for the field archaeologist. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (book available as a free PDF):

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 Airports: Skopje, R. of North Macedonia (80 km) and Thessaloniki, Greece (160 km). If participants arrive at 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 North 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 North Macedonia) - the highway exit STOBI is just in front of the site's entrance; 2. catching a bus/train from Skopje (R. of North Macedonia) or Thessaloniki (Greece) - the bus stop is at Gradsko (5 km. away from Stobi), from there participants can 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); the railway is next to the site 3. from neighboring towns of Negotino (13 km) and Kavadartsi (20 km) participants can get on a bus to Gradsko or on a taxi directly to Stobi.

Accommodation & Meals

Accommodation: in the recently renovated air-conditioned cabins at the archaeological site 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. Washing machine and Wi-Fi are available for free. There are outdoor and indoor dining and social spaces.

Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) at the site's dining room or outdoors next to it. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, gluten-free etc.) are difficult to maintain in this location.

Participants must pay on their own for extra meals, beverages, services and products. No single room accommodation is available at Stobi.

Free Time & Trips

Films, sports games and visits to the neighboring towns/villages are the options for free time in the evenings. 

Technicalities & Practicalities

Insurance: The admission fee does not cover health insurance. It is necessary to arrange your own insurance before your trip to Republic of North Macedonia! There are hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in all the larger towns. Foreign tourists must pay for health services, but might receive a refund if their home country has signed the Health Insurance Convention with R. of North 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?

  • 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).
  • Participants are encouraged to bring a laptop having at least 20 GB free disk space, a mouse and an USB flash drive. Operating system recommended: Windows XP or newer; Mac OS X 10.0.0 or newer.
  • Medication - only prescription medicines you may need. It is not necessary to bring non-prescription medicine since you can buy all basic non-prescription drugs in North Macedonia.      
  • Wide brim hat.   
  • Small backpack (for your water bottle, snacks, camera, etc.)
  • A converter to EU type electricity wall-plug if needed.        
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries! :)         


 NB!! All Conservation & Documentation tools and materials are available at the site! 

The Admission fee


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. 


Admission Fee 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 credits to students for attending the two-week session and 9 ECTS credits for attending the three-week session. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details : Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records.



North Macedonia

Workshops for Conservation of Roman Pottery and Glass

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