Republic of North Macedonia

Stobi (The Capital City of Macedonia Secunda) Excavation Project

Period: Roman, Late Roman
Code: STOBI.EXC 20
Session: 27 June - 25 July
Academic credits available: up to 12
Admission fee starting from: 2299 EUR (approx. 2529 USD)

The Project and Course

General information

 This project is included in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans   

Project type: Field school & archaeological excavation. The variety of activities and the team's professionalism and flexibility make this project suitable for both beginners and advanced in field Roman Archaeology.    

Тhe field school started: 2010

Site and venue: Archaeological site of Stobi is near the village of Gradsko, Republic of North Macedonia. Since 2012, Stobi is included in the World Monuments Fund Watch list among the sites with universal significance - read more here!

Period in the project's focus: Roman, Late Roman (2nd century - 6th century CE)   

Major field school topics/activities:  archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation in regard to specifics of excavation of Roman and Late Roman urban site; course on photogrammetry and 3D archaeological recording and modelling in collaboration with Queen's University, Canada; finds processing; as well as excursions to significant heritage sites in Republic of North Macedonia and Greece.   

BHF Partners in this project: National Institution Stobi, Republic of North Macedonia, and Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA, Department of Geography and Planning of Queens University, Canada and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria.

Dig director: Goce Pavlovski, Archaeologist at National Institution Stobi

Field school coordinators: Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage Foundation & Field School Program Director, PhD in Classical Archaeology); Goce Pavlovski (archaeologist, NI Stobi, MA in Archaeology);

Visiting professor: George A. Bevan (PhD), Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, Queen's University, Canada.

Field school sessions available:

Four week session: 27 June - 25 July 2020 

Application deadlines:  Until the places are filled, or 30 May 2020

Minimum length of stay for volunteers: four weeks 

Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member) 

Number of field school places available: Maximum 20   

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. See more details below.   

Experience required: No

Special requirements: 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 25-35°C (77-95°F) or higher. All participants should bring clothes and toiletries suitable for hot and sunny weather. Bear in mind that chillier days are very rare but not uncommon.    

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 comprehensive experience with classical antiquity, check our project pack ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN PACK combining two different Balkan Heritage Field School Projects!     


The Site and the Excavation Project


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

This commercial and strategic position brought Stobi long-term prosperity, especially in the period between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. Several monumental buildings in the city are dated to this period: the Theater, the first City Wall, Porta Heraclea, Public Building with Arches (most probably the Stobi library), Casa Romana, the Synagogue, as well as the water supply system. In 267 CE, the city suffered raids of Goths and Herules. At the end of the 3rd century 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 dated to this period.

During the 4th century CE, Stobi became an important Christian center and the seat of powerful bishops. In the 5th and 6th centuries CE, 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 6th 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 11th century CE. 


Periods of excavations:

For more than a century the ancient city of Stobi has been attracting scientists from all over the World to reveal its secrets. 

The first reported excavations were begun during the World War I by German officers and the archaeologist Hald and later on Krischen;

1923 to 1940 - Excavations, directed by Balduin Saria and R. Eger, Kj. Truhelka, V. Petkovic, J. Petrovic, Dj. Mano-Zissi - the Belgrade National Museum;

1955 to 1969 - Excavations carried out by the Archaeological Museum of Skopje and the Agency for Protection of Monuments of Culture, Macedonia;

1970 to 1980 - Excavations, directed by Dj. Mano-Zissi and J. Wiseman - the Museum of Veles, Macedonia, University of Austin, Texas, and later Boston University - both from USA.

1992 to 1995 - rescue excavations by the Agency for Protection of Monuments of Culture, Macedonia;

The National Institution Stobi was founded in December 2008 and since 2009 a large-scale excavation campaign aimed to systematically excavate the south end of Stobi.

Despite all the excavation campaigns, only 15% of the territory within the city wall of Stobi has been excavated.

The Field School

In 2010, the field school project concentrated on the Western Necropolis (in use from the 1st century BCE to the 5th century CE) and the temple of Isis dated to the 2nd and the 3rd century CE. The excavations between 2011 and 2013 took place in the Northern Residential Area of Stobi, inhabited mainly in the Late Antiquity. Since 2014, the students in the field school have been participating in the excavation of the most representative, residential building in Stobi, the so called "Theodosian Palace" and the area southwest of it, located in the center of the ancient town, between the streets of Via Principalis Inferior and Via Principalis Superior. The name of this richly mosaic decorated building, was given under the assumption that the emperor Theodosius I was accommodated here when he visited Stobi in 388 CE. The excavations during the field school in 2020 are going to continue at the same spot.

The field school includes the following three modules:   

  • fieldwork, including excavation of Roman and Late Roman layers and structures: practicing basic excavation techniques and developing of archaeological field documentation by maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling locus sheets and labels, drawing an elevation plan/ a ground plan/ a cross-section, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a dumpy level, as well as taking photographs at the site; 


  • lectures and workshops in Roman and Field Archaeology, Finds' Processing and Documentation; workshops on Photogrammetry & Surveying for Archaeological and Architectural Recording alongside the excavation, taught by Dr. George Bevan (Queen's University, Canada). Further training will be given in the operation of a Total Station and the establishing of a survey control network on site;           

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

All participants will receive:

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




The Team   

Instructors, Trainers and Area Supervisors:         

  • Goce Pavlovski (archaeologist, NI Stobi)
  • Jovan Radnyanski (archaeologist, NI Stobi)   
  • Dr. George A. Bevan (Assoicate Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, Queen's University, Canada)    
  • Kristen Jones (PhD Student, Department of Geography & Planning, Queen's University, Canada)

The Program

The four-week field school session provides a minimum of 180 hours of fieldwork, workshops/lab work, lectures/instructions and guided tours.

Field Work   

  • Practicing basic excavation techniques
  • Use of tools and working techniques
  • Creating of field documentation - field journal, locus sheets and labels, ground plans and cross-sections, photographs, etc;
  • Identifying and sorting of archaeological finds;       


  • Practical total station operation;
  • Introduction to surveying: GNSS;
  • Photogrammetry capture and processing;
  • Archaeological documentation of pottery (drawing, graphic reconstruction, photographing, description, etc.);
  • Cleaning of pottery;
  • Basic principles of finds processing.


  • History of Macedonia in Antiquity (Hellenistic, Roman and Late Roman Period)
  • History and Archaeology of Stobi and Introduction in the Excavation Area 
  • Architecture and Urban Development of Stobi   
  • Cemeteries and Burial Practices in Stobi
  • Typology of Roman and Late Roman Pottery, with Examples from Stobi    
  • Religious Beliefs in Stobi
  • Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation
  • Introduction to the Field Journal; Locus Sheets, Log Book and Other Forms 
  • Stratigraphy: Horizontal, Vertical and Chronological
  • From the Field to Storage: Review of Basic Methods for Uncovering, "First Aid", Consolidation in Situ, Cleaning, Sorting, Labeling, Documenting and Storing Ceramic Artifacts

  • Field Graphic Documentation: Scale-drawing of: Ground-plan/elevation-plan/Cross-section
  • Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research
  • Excavation Completion. Post Excavation Work and Analyses. Excavation
  • Total Station and GNSS Surveying; Ground Control Setup
  • Digital Photogrammetry of Excavations and Total Station Operation; Mapping in 3DM Analyst
  • Processing Photogrammetry Data in 3DM Analyst and Agisoft Photoscan
  • History of Bitola and Heraclea Lyncestis
  • History of Ohrid.  

Guided tours (covered by the participation fee):


For students with archaeological experience who would like to concentrate mainly on 3D documentation of active excavations using photogrammetry, surveying, RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging), and CAD (Computer Aided Design), please contact Balkan Heritage or George Bevan ([email protected]) directly.  



  • 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 will take place at the site's lab.
  • Workshops will take place at the site.
  • Field instructions and training will take place at the site.

The Agenda


First day

 Arrival date:    27 June 2020;    


Arrival in Stobi by 7.00 pm. Registration and check-in. Traditional welcome dinner.

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

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

Meeting time/point on arrival date: by 7.00 pm at Stobi

Second day

Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School, National Institution Stobi and the other collaborating universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breakers and orientation.

Sightseeing of the archaeological site of Stobi.

Working days

6.00 am - 6.40 am - Breakfast

6.40 am - 1.00 pm - Fieldwork with 30-min break*.

1.00 pm - 5.00 pm - Lunch and siesta break.

5.00 pm - 5.45 pm - Lectures/ Workshops

6.00 pm - 7.30/8.00 pm - Finds' processing. Workshops.

8.00 pm - 9.00 pm - Dinner.


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

** Lectures and workshops in the area of Roman and Field Archaeology.


The BHFS team may organize/assist organization of various leisure activities for participants during their free time such as hiking, wine-tasting, movies etc.

Excursion Schedule

4 July (Saturday): Visit to the ancient town of Bitola and the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis.

5 July (Sunday): Visit to Ohrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site).   

18 July (Saturday): guided visit to Skopje, the capital of Republic of North Macedonia. 

Optional excursion to Pella and Vergina, Greece on 12 July 2020, not included in the field school fee! Excursion fee of 40-60 EUR applies (depending on number of participants).  

Days off


12, 18 July 

Last day

Departure dates:    25 July 2020

Departure after breakfast.

Transfers to the airports in Skopje (R. of North Macedonia) and Thessaloniki (Greece) may be arranged for an additional fee upon request.

Reading Background   


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

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

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.

Errington, R. M. A History of the Hellenistic World: 323-30 BC. Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.

Errington, R. M. A History of Macedonia. Barnes Noble, 1994.

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

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

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/49 mi) and Thessaloniki, Greece (160 km/100 mi.) Transfers to Stobi from these airports may be arranged by request.  Individual or group transfer prices may vary, depending on the 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 highway E-75 (from Athens, Greece to Belgrade, Serbia and Central Europe across R. of 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 stop is at Gradsko (5 km. away from Stobi), from there participants/visitors 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); 3. from neighboring towns of Negotino (13 km) and Kavadartsi (20 km) participants can take a bus to Gradsko or a taxi directly to Stobi.      

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 Republic of North Macedonia for up to 90 days. 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 be accommodated in the recently renovated air-conditioned cabins at the archaeological base next to the ancient ruins of Stobi, in rooms with two to three beds. Every cabin has 4 bedrooms and living room, 2 bathrooms with showers and WC. A washing machine and Wi-Fi are available for free at the site. 

Meals: Three meals (fresh, homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except for the lunch packages during the excursions) at the base's premises. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted.

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


Free Time & Trips


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

Extra trips and excursions:

Please follow the links above for excursion details.   


Technicalities & Practicalities


Insurance: The admission fee does not cover insurance. It is mandatory to arrange your own health insurance before your trip to R. of North MacedoniaThere are hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in all the larger towns. Foreigners 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);   
  • Wide brim hat;   
  • Small backpack (for your water bottle, snacks, camera, etc.)
  • Medication - only prescription medicines you may need since you can buy all basic non-prescription drugs in North Macedonia.
  • A converter to EU type electricity wall-plug if needed.
  • A good attitude for work, fun, study and discoveries ;)



  • NB! Excavation & documentation tools and materials, as well as working gloves are available at the site!

The Admission fee   



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 enroll through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA and pay the admission fees corresponding to the IFR's terms and conditions.

BHFS admission fee includes: Educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (boarding + 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 price in USD is approximate.Please check current exchange rates! 


Super Early Bird - by November 30, 2019:


Super Early Bird Admission fee for a four week project session is 2299 EUR (approx. 2529 USD)  -     


Early Bird - By January 31, 2020:


Early Bird Admission fee for a four week project session is 2399 EUR (approx. 2639 USD)   


Registration after January 31, 2020:


Regular Admission fee for a four week project session is 2499 EUR (approx. 2749 USD)    


Admission Fee Transfer Options:

- Bank transfer
- Online 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]


Discounts off the regular admission fee:


* 5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:

  1. Participation in more than one BHFS project in 2020 (discount applies to the second, third, etc. project).   
  2. Membership in the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).

* 10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:

  1. Participation in any BHFS project in the past.

* 12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available for:

  1. Group participation (three or more people, who participate together in one BHFS project in 2020). The discount is valid for each participant.

* 15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available for:

  1. Group Participation (three or more people, who participate in more than one BHFS project in 2020 (the discount is valid for each participant).   
  2. BHFS alumni, who participate in more than one BHFS project in 2020. (discount applies to the second, third, etc. project)

Note, 5% of every admission fee for this project directly supports the Balkan Heritage Protection Fund's activities!


For more information about scholarships, low-cost flights, hotels, etc. please feel free to contact us or look at our recommended links

Academic Credits   



  • Students who study in Europe (EU, EEA, CH, Russian Federation and countries from the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus): New Bulgarian University grants 9 ECTS credits for attending the field school. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee . For details: Regulations for obtaining Transcripts of Records.


  • Students who study outside Europe wishing to obtain academic credits for attending the four-week session of this field school project must apply to the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans and enroll through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA. They will be awarded 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units) through Connecticut College and will receive a letter grade. The tuition fee is included in the IFR admission fee.            


  • Queen's University students: 6.0 credits is available through Queen's University at the Undergraduate level (CLST 412 and 413) and at the Graduate level (CLAS 810). Please contact George Bevan ([email protected]) for details.



Republic of North Macedonia

Stobi (The Capital City of Macedonia Secunda) Excavation Project

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