This project is included in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans
Project type: field school & archaeological excavations. The variety of activities and the team's professionalism and flexibility make this project suitable for both beginners and advanced in either Field or Classical Archaeology. Individual program and task assignments is available to advanced students.
The field school started: 2013
Site: Emporion Pistiros, between the small towns of Septemvri and Vetren, Southern Bulgaria.
Project venue: "Villa Terres" is a newly built tourist complex including a SPA hotel and a winery. It is located in the southern part of the village of Karabunar, 8 km from the motorway exit "Trakia" on the road to Velingrad. During the project work days all participants will be provided with transportation from the hotel to the site (that is located 14 km away) and back.
Period(s) of occupation: Late Classical, Hellenistic (5th - 3rd century BCE)
Major field school topics/activities: Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation; ancient Greek and Thracian archaeology in the light of their trade and religious interaction at the Site; RTI in collaboration with University of Exeter, UK; documentation of Classical and Hellenistic finds, excursions to significant heritage sites in Thrace, Bulgaria.
BHF partners in this project: Septemvri Archaeological Museum "Prof. Mieczyslaw Domaradzki", Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA, Pistiros Excavation Team from the National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, ,"Pistiros" Association and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).
Dig director: Ass. Prof. Alexey Gotsev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.
Field school coordinator: Angela Pencheva, Balkan Heritage Program Manager; PhD student in Classical Archaeology at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany.
Visiting professors: Dr Jacqueline Christmas and Dr Judith Bannerman - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Dr Lidia Domaradska - Sofia University: Ass. Prof. Tzvete Lazova - New Bulgarian University; Gavrail Lazov - Director of the Department “Archaeology” at the National Museum of History, Sofia.
Field school sessions available:
Application deadlines: until the places are filled or 1st of July, 2017
Minimum length of stay for participants: two weeks
Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 18
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 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA-Extension). See more details below!
Experience required: None
Special requirements: Participation in 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 25-38° C (77 - 100° F) or higher. All participants should bring clothes and toiletries suitable for hot and sunny weather but should also prepare for possible rainy, windy and chilly days. 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 wide ranging experience with classical antiquity, please see also the ANCIENT GREEK PACK and the ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN PACK (each combining two different Balkan Heritage Field School projects)!
|WATCH STUDENT TESTIMONIALS!|
The ruins of an ancient Greek trade center (emporion) in the heart of Thrace – on the left bank of Maritsa River (ancient Hebros), between the towns of Vetren and Septemvri, were discovered by Prof. M. Domaradzki in 1988. He started regular excavations and in 1990 his team found a stone inscription (known as "Vetren inscription") that helped the scholars to identify the site as the Ancient Greek emporion named Pistiros. Merchants from Greek coastal cities of Maroneia, Thassos and Apollonia lived and traded there with their Thracian neighbors under the supreme protection of the Thracian Odrysian kings (the biggest and mightiest Thracian Kingdom at that time).
The emporion was also a major metallurgical center and a key harbor for export of metals and metal products from Thrace to Greece in the Classical and Early Hellenistic periods (from the middle of the 5-th to the beginning of the 3-rd century BCE). The trade contacts of the emporion are evident through finds of numerous imports such as Attic red-figured and black-slip pottery, amphorae (mainly Thassian) and coins (e.g. several hoards of copper, silver and gold coins found during the excavations - they represent the coinage of different Odrysian kings (e.g. Amatokos I, Bergaios, Kotys I, Amatokos II, Teres II, Kersebleptes, Teres II), Greek cities (Thassos, Maroneia, Parion, Thracian Chersonese, Enos, Apollonia, Messabria etc.) and Macedonian rulers (Philip II, Alexander the Great, Kassandros, Demetrios Poliokretes, Lysimachos etc.).
Most of the ancient authors and the majority of the modern scholars consider the cult of Dionysos rooting in Thrace. Apparently, it played a very important role in the emporion's religious life. For instance the Vetren inscription informs about the oath taken in the name of Dionysos by the Odrysian king: Kotys I (383-359 BCE) and his successor from the citizens of Pistiros - this how they guaranteed the integrity of their lives, properties and activities in their town under the sovereignty of the Thracian kings.
Pistiros history in brief:
So far archaeologists uncovered the eastern fortification wall of the emporion (having one gate, several towers, and a bastion - all built of stone blocks analogically to the Thassian fortification system), streets paved by stone plates, solid stone foundations of buildings as well as an efficient drainage system. Despite the long period of study there are still many questions concerning Pistiros to be answered - for instance:
In the course of time after 1988 the Pistiros Excavation Team lead by representatives of National Archaeological Institute with Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) was joined by the following institutions:
The Balkan Heritage Field School at the site of Pistiros has started in 2013. Until the moment the students have worked in the south-eastern sector which is an area next to the fortification wall. Based on the high concentration of artifacts and features, like pits, and clay escharae (fireplaces), the archaeologists suggest that the area was covered with simple houses, presumably dated in the very first period of the existence of the site (5th BCE). A huge amount of local and imported pottery, cult figurines, Greek and Thracian coins, weapon etc. were among the discovered artifacts in the last four years.
The participants in 2017 in Ancient Greeks in the Land of Dionysos - Excavation of Emporion Pistiros are going to be included in the further excavation one of the same sector.
The project sessions available in 2017 include the following three modules:
The participants who join either the three-week and four-week project sessions will be able to develop further their skills and competences regarding the field work and findings processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures, workshops and an excursion to some of the most remarkable Thracian royal tombs in the Rose valley in and around Kazanlak and Starosel, Bulgaria (Please refer to the Course Program and Agenda below!) and a guided tour to Sofia.
The participants who join four week project session will be able to attend the Workshops on Advanced Digital Imaging for Archaeological Recording alongside the excavation (it is optional and covered by the admission fee), taught by Dr Jacqueline Christmas and Dr Judith Bannerman - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK;. Students will continue excavating in the morning session but will have the option of additional training in Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) of epigraphic monuments and small objects found in Pistiros, in the afternoon.
Students who should prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.
All participants will receive:
Instructors, Trainers and Area Supervisors:
Angela Pencheva (
PhD Candidate in Classical Archaeology, Humboldt University, Germany); Adjunct Professor, CPCE, New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria;
Petia Ilieva (PhD in Archaeology, Sofia University, Bulgaria; MA in Ancient Greek Philology, Aristotle University Thessaloniki, Greece. Assistant Professor at Centre of Thracology and Institute for Balkan Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences;
Two-week field school sessions provide a minimum of 85 hours of fieldwork and training, workshops, lectures and guided tours as follows:
The three-week session provides a minimum of 120 hours of fieldwork and training, workshops, lectures and guided tours incorporating all two-week session's ones plus the following:
Lectures & Workshops on:
The four-week session provides a minimum of 170 hours of fieldwork and training, workshops, lectures and guided tours incorporating all three-week session's ones plus the following:
Lectures & Workshops:
Students participating in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans will be able to join the excursion to Northwestern Thrace for free. The excursion is available for the other students for an additional fee.
Students who should prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.
Arrival and check-in at villa Terres, Karabunar, Pazardzhik district, Bulgaria by 7.00 pm
8.00 pm - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian Welcome Dinner.
A pick-up may be arranged either from the Sofia or Plovdiv airports upon request.
Meeting time/point on arrival date: 8.00 pm, villa Terres, Karabunar
Morning: Presentation of the Balkan Heritage Field School and collaborative universities & institutions, the project and the participants. Ice-breaking.
Afternoon: Lectures and the site seeing of Pistiros.
6.30 am - 7.00 am - Breakfast
7.10 am - 7.25 am - Travel to the site
7.30 am - 10.00 am - Fieldwork*
10.00 am - 10.15 am - Break
10.15 am - 12.30 pm - Fieldwork*
12.30 pm - 1.30 pm - Finds processing
1.30 pm - 5.00 pm - Lunch and Siesta break
5.00 pm - 6.30 pm - Lectures/Workshops/Finds processing **
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 at villa Terres.
**Lectures and workshops in the area of Classical and Field Archaeology, focused on Ancient Greek and Thracian culture in Pistiros and advanced digital imaging and surveying for archaeological and architectural recording.
The following excursions are included in the field school program and covered by the admission fee:
30 July (Sunday): Visit to the ancient town of Plovdiv – European capital of Culture 2019
5 August (Saturday): 1-day excursion to North-western Thrace (Bulgaria): Koprivshtitsa (a historical town and architectural reservation keeping the traditional look of Bulgarian towns in the 18th and 19th century); Recently discovered Thracian sites (castles and shrines) in Sredna Gora Mountains. Panagyurishte (including the History Museum with the famous golden treasure of Panagyurishte).
12 August (Saturday): 1-day excursion to the Thracian royal tombs in the Rose valley in and around Kazanlak (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Starosel
20 August (Sunday): 1- day guided visit to the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Participants who attend the four-week project sessions or the three-week one will join all the tours.
6, 13 August
Departure day. Check-out by 12.30 am.
A drop-off may be arranged to the airports in Sofia and Plovdiv upon request.
Villa Terres provides SPA center with sauna, steam bath and swimming pool for free to all field school participants as well as ATVs and bikes to hire. The BHFS team can assist with the organization of additional leisure activities for participants upon request such as hiking, wine-tasting outside the Villa, movies etc.
Archibald, Z. H. – The Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace: Orpheus Unmasked (Oxford, 1998)
Bouzek. J. - The outline of the chronology of Pistiros. – Studia Hercynia XVII/1, Pistiros V supplementum, Pragae, 2013, 5-7.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. (eds.). The Culture of Thracians and their Neighbours. Proceedings of the International Symposium in Memory of Prof. Mieczysław Domaradzki, with a Round Table 'Archaeological map of Bulgaria’. BAR International Series 1350. Oxford, 2005.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzki, M.†, Domaradzka, L., Taneva, V. Fortification and Urban Planning of Emporion Pistiros (Adžijska Vodenica). – Archeologia (Warszawa) LII 2001, Warszawa 2002, 7 – 18.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L., Gotzev, A., Ivanova E., Katincharova, D., Kolarova, V., Lazov, G., Taneva, V., Youroukova, Y. Pistiros and the Celts. (In:) Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities. Eirene 42, Prague 2006, 124 – 129.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. The Emporion Pistiros near Vetren between greater Powers, 450 – 278 B.C. (In:) Thrace in the Graeco-Roman World, Athens 2008, 86 – 94.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and the North Aegean Greek Cities. Ancient Macedonia. Proceedings of the 7th International Symposion on Ancient Macedonia. Thessaloniki 2007, 2009, 745 – 758.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros. Facts and Opinions. Eirene XLV/2009, Prague 2009, 147 – 154.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and Inland Emporia in the Balkans: Greeks, Thracians, and their Neighbours. – Eirene XLVI/2010/I – II, Prague 2010, 157 – 160.
Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Greeks in Inner Thrace. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 45 – 60.
Grant J., S. Gorin and N. Fleming.The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge. 2008.
Taneva, V. The Potter’s Kiln Found at Pistiros. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 25 – 28.
Valeva, J., Nankov, E., Graninger D. (ed.) A Companion to Ancient Thrace, Wiley Blackwell, 2015.
Project venue: Villa Terres is located in the village of Karabunar, 84 km/52 mi away from the Bulgarian capital Sofia and just 8 km/5 mi away from "Trakia" motorway exit to Velingrad. The distance from the villa to the site is approx. 15 km/9,5 mi, and it takes approx. 15/20 min drive. Daily BHFS shuttle service is arranged for the participants to bring them to the site and back. The site has running water, electricity and a squat toilet.
The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 84 km/ 52 mi away) and Plovdiv (Bulgaria, 50 km/ 34 mi away) - don't forget to check the low-cost flight options! If participants arrival at one of these airports, a transfer to Villa Terres in Karabunar may be arranged by request (please, specify this in your application form!). Individual or group transfer prices may vary, depending on the number of passengers, from 25 to 100 EUR. Ask for details!
How to get there?: Participants who arrange individually their travel will be expected to arrive at Villa Terres on the arrival day by 7.30 pm. It may be reached by bus from Septemvri (15 - 20 min) and Sofia (app. 1 ½ hrs). 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 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: Villa Terres Hotel, Karabunar, Bulgaria - in comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC), equipped with air-conditioning and TV in a local newly built hotel. The hotel has a small swimming pool and SPA, free of charge for the participants in the field school. There are cheap laundry services and free Wi-Fi provided. Extra night - 30 EUR (per night per person), Single room - 200 EUR (for two-week period).
See all accommodation options on our Information page!
Meals: Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) in the hotel’s restaurant. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Brown-bag lunches during the excursions and days off.
Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products!
Free time: Guided visits to the Archaeological Museum, Roman monuments and the Old Town Quarter of Plovdiv will be organized for the field school participants in sessions 1, 3, and 1&2. Participants in session 3 and the two project sessions (1&2) will visit also Thracian royal tombs in the Rose valley in and around Kazanlak (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Starosel, as well as the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The above mentioned trips are covered by the admission fee. Possible leisure activities during the siesta and days off in and around Karabunar are: swimming in/sunbathing around a pool with mineral water, hiking in the Rhodopi Mountains, wine-tasting at one of many local wineries, visiting local tourist sites, traveling by the narrow gauge train to Velingrad (popular and larger spa and wellness town) or doing shopping and sightseeing in the neighboring cities of Pazardzhik and Plovdiv.
Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursions to:
Please follow the links above for excursion details and information on how to join!
Insurance: The admission fee does not cover insurance. It is mandatory to arrange your own health 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: South-European climate dominates in the field school area, making summers hot (30-40° C, 86-104° F). Rainy and chilly days in this season are rare but not excluded.
What to bring?
Excavation & documentation tools and materials, as well as working gloves are available at the site!
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 shall enroll through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA and pay different admission fees corresponding to the IFR's terms and conditions.
The BHF Admission fee includes: Educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (hotel + 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 fees in USD are approximate. Please check current exchange rates!
Super Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1147 EUR / approx.1285 USD - SAVE 202 EUR / 226 USD
Super Early Bird Admission fee for three week project session is 1742 EUR / approx. 1951 USD - SAVE 307 EUR / 344 USD
Super Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2293 EUR/ approx. 2568 USD - SAVE 270 EUR / 303 USD
Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1214 EUR / approx.1360 USD - SAVE 135 EUR / 151 USD
Early Bird Admission fee for three week project session is 1844 EUR / approx. 2065 USD - SAVE 205 EUR / 230 USD
Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2428 EUR / approx. 2720 USD - SAVE 135 EUR / 151 USD
The regular admission fee for two week project session is 1349 EUR / approx.1511 USD.
The regular admission fee for three week project session is 2049 EUR /approx. 2295 USD
The regular admission fee for four week project session is 2563 EUR / approx. 2871 USD
Admission Fee Transfer Options:
- Bank transfer
- Online transfers via the Balkan Heritage virtual POS Terminal VISA, MASTERCARD & MAESTRO cards are accepted.
For further information contact Admissions Office at [email protected]!
* 5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available in case of:
Note, 5% of every admission fee for this project directly supports the Balkan Heritage Protection Fund's activities!