This project is included in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans
Project type: Field school & archaeological excavation. Suitable for both beginner and advanced students as well as those interested in prehistoric and Aegean archaeology. Individual program and task assignments are available to advanced students.
The excavation started: 2012; The field school started: 2016
Site: Prehistoric fortified settlement in Bresto near Banya, southwestern Bulgaria.
Period(s) of occupation: Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age (13th - 12th century BCE).
Period in the project's focus: Transition from the Late Bronze to Early Iron Age (13th - 12th century BCE).
Project venue: The spa-resort village of Banya, Bulgaria. The village is located in the small valley dividing the Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the Rila Mountains (the highest range in the Balkan Peninsula), not far from the famous ski resort of Bansko. The site is 3 km/1.5 mi away from the hotel, approx. 10 min drive. A daily BHF shuttle service is arranged for the participants to bring them to the site and back.
Major field school topics/activities: Archaeology and history of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze and the Early Iron Ages; Excavations of the Late Bronze Age (1300 – 1200 BCE) fortress in Bresto; Artifact biographies and cultural encounters; Interdisciplinary studies (zooarchaeology, paleobotanics, geoarchaeology etc.); Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation; Recording of prehistoric (Bronze and Iron Age) artifacts; Processing of finds and samples; Excursions to significant heritage sites in Bulgaria and Greece.
Dig co-directors: Prof. Dr. Philipp Stockhammer, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany, Institute for Pre- and Protohistoric Archaeology and Archaeology of Roman Provinces (Germany); Asst. Prof. Bogdan Athanassov, New Bulgarian University, Sofia (Bulgaria); John Gorczyk, PhD candidate at Cornell University (USA).
Field school sessions available:
Application deadlines: Until the places are filled or latest 1 July, 2017
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 15
Project language: English
Academic credits available: Students who study in Europe can receive up to 9 ECTS credits through the 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 for applicants for Session 1 and/or 3. However, applicants for Session 2 are expected to have at least two weeks of archaeological field experience prior to their participation in this session.
Special requirements: Participation in the project is not recommended for individuals with solar allergies or other special illnesses that might be exacerbated during intensive outdoor activities. The average summer temperature in the area is 20-30°C (68-83°F). Participants should bring clothes and cosmetics 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 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 Old World Prehistory, please see also the PREHISTORIC PACK (combining 2 to 3 different Balkan Heritage Field School projects)!
The Bresto: Digging in the Time of Troy Field School Project is affiliated with the excavation project at Bresto, in the mountains of southwestern Bulgaria. The latter explores a fortified settlement from the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE. It was founded in the 13th century BCE at the time of the zenith of Troy and both the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and the Aegean palatial civilizations. In the 12th cent. BCE after the collapse of these polities, new kinds of networks emerged in the Aegean, where former “fringe” areas became important hubs for the exchange of objects, ideas, and practices. Only 80 miles away from the Aegean Sea, the fortified site at Bresto presents many of the challenges for excavations, including complex stratigraphy. The settlement was protected by two large fortification walls. An international team of scholars from Bulgaria, Germany and the USA with a wide range of specialties is currently attempting to better understand the story behind Bresto and its place in the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age. The excavation conducted for the last five years shows that despite Bresto’s location in a marginal mountain valley, economic and social life flourished at the site during the 13th–12th century BCE, benefitting from Bresto’s position on an important route for communication and exchange between the Aegean and Central Europe. This idea was confirmed by our most important find from the 2016 campaign - an almost complete Mycenaean alabastron is currently being analyzed for organic residues in order to identify the type of ointments or other precious subsistence that may have been kept in this rare object.
Archaeological context: The transition from Bronze to Iron Age in the Eastern Balkan Peninsula corresponds to the end of the Bronze Age in Anatolia, the Late Helladic IIIC period in the Aegean and the Greek mainland and the beginning of the Urnfield Period in Central Europe.
The excavation project at Bresto seeks to answer specific and general questions regarding Eastern Mediterranean and European Prehistory:
In 2017 the archaeologists and participants in the Bresto: Digging in the Time of Troy field school will seek together answers to the questions listed above and take part in further excavation of a large apsidal building and fortifications from the 13th–12th century BCE.There are three field school sessions (2 consecutive two-week sessions and 1 four-week session) available. Each of them covers the following three modules: 1) fieldwork including excavation of the fortified settlement, maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling context sheets and labels, drawing an elevation plan/a ground plan/a cross-section, 3D positioning of finds, taking coordinates with a total station, and taking photographs at the site; 2) lectures, workshops and field training in prehistoric, Aegean, theoretical and field archaeology, finds processing and documentation and 3) excursions to: Bansko Historical Downtown and Museum on 28 July, 2017; the Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site) on 29 July, 2017; the Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and to Blagoevgrad Historical Museum on 20 August, 2017; as well as the optional tour of the ancient Philippi (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Aegean coastal town of Kavala, Greece on 12-13 August, 2017. Field school students are considered team members (colleagues) and advanced students who show a desire to learn and excel can become co-authors.
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 prehistoric settlement, with an emphasis on the Eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age. 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; to attend a course entitled "Artifact Biographies and Cultural Encounters in the Past", and to gain new managerial skills/competences through assignment of trench-leader tasks. The goal of this course is to move beyond the traditional approaches to archaeological artifacts dealing mainly with questions of function, dating and style. Embracing the metaphor of biography, the workshops emphasize the fact that objects are not static and passive, but constantly change in meaning and social significance.
A key for the understanding of these biographies are the social contexts of the artifacts. Our teaching starts with traditional approaches to the analysis of small finds, tools, pottery, weapons and architecture, but on the next level the emphasis is laid on contextual interpretations. A special importance in this session is placed on sharp breaks of artifact biographies, because they are often related with radical resetting of meanings. This can happen, for example, when objects become alienated from their culture of origin. That is why we finish the session with the topic of cultural encounters, which is fundamental for the interpretation of material remains from the past. Each two-week session includes 9 working days, 1 day for orientation and introduction; 1 day for excursion; and 2 days-off (with an optional excursion) plus arrival & departure day.
Session 3 is a well-designed combination of Session 1 and Session 2 with 19 working days, 2 excursion days; 4 days-off (two of them with an optional excursion) and 1 day for research and individual work plus arrival & departure day.
Students who are required to prepare field reports and presentations for their universities can receive additional instruction and assistance.
All participants will receive:
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 and 3:
SESSIONS 2 and 3:
Arrival Date for Sessions 1 and 3 - 24 July, 2017; for Session 2 - 7 August, 2017
8.00 - 9.30 pm - Traditional Bulgarian welcome dinner
A shuttle or taxi pick-up may be arranged from the Sofia airport upon request.
Meeting time/point on arrival date: 8.00 pm, the tavern of Pri Spaska (Spaska's) Hotel, Banya, or 6.30 pm at the bus stop in Bansko. Earlier pick-ups from Bansko can be arranged by e-mail, phone call or SMS (contact info will be provided to all registered students). The BHFS will organize pick-up from Bansko Bus Station to Banya for free.
5.30 - 6.00 am - Breakfast
6.10 - 6.20 am - Drive to the site
6.30 am - 1.40 pm - Fieldwork, including a 30 min break, field instruction and training (at the site).*
1.40 - 2.00 pm - Drive to the hotel
2.00 - 4.30 pm - Lunch and lunch break
4.30 - 7.30 pm - Lectures, Workshops, Finds processing, Research
7.30 - 8.30 pm - Dinner
* In case of rain, the field school program provides substitute activities such as lectures and lab work.
30 July; 6, 12, 13 August, 2017
See details about the optional tour to Greece on 12-13.08.2017!
The BHFS team can assist with the organization of additional leisure activities for participants upon request.
28.07.2017: Afternoon tour of Bansko (including the Historic Museum and Downtown Quarter). The excursion is covered by the admission fee.
29.07.2017: Excursion to the Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The excursion is covered by the admission fee.
12-13.08.2017: Tour of the ancient Philippi (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Aegean coastal town of Kavala, Greece (optional). Students participating in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans will be able to visit the Greece for free. Participation to the excursion is open to the rest of the students for an additional fee.
20.08.2017: Tour of the History Museum of Blagoevgrad and the Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The excursion is covered by the admission fee.
Participants who attend the Session 3 will be able to attend all the tours!
Departure. Check-out by 12.00 pm
A drop-off by taxi may be arranged to the airport in Sofia.
RECOMMENDED READINGS (ALL SESSIONS):
Andreou, St., M. Fotiadis, K. Kotsakis . Review of Aegean Prehistory V: The Neolithic and Bronze Age of Northern Greece. AJA 100, 3, 1996, 537-597.
Athanassov, B., I. Kulov, Ph. Stockhammer. Siedlungen der späten Bronze- und frühen Eisenzeit in Südwestbulgarien: Vorbericht zu den deutsch-bulgarischen Forschungen 2012 im Struma- und Mestatal.
Banning, E. B. Archaeological Survey. Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers, New York et. al. 2002.
Becks, R. Troia VII: the Transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age. In: B. Fischer, H. Genz, É. Jean, K. Köroğlu (eds.), Identifying Changes: The Transition from Bronze to Iron Ages in Anatolia and its Neighbouring Regions, 2002, 41-53.
Bintliff, J. Experiencing archaeological fieldwork. In: Bintliff, J. (ed.) A Companion to Archaeology. Blackwell Publishing 2006, 397-405.
Burke, H. and Cl. Smith. The Archaeologist's Field Handbook. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest 2004.
Carver, M. Field archaeology. In: G. Barker (ed.) Companion Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Vol. 1, London et. al., 1999, 128-181.
Chapman, J., E. Magyari, B. Gaydarska Contrasting subsistence strategies in the Early Iron Age? - New results from the Alföld plain, Hungary, and the Thracian plain, Bulgaria. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, 28, 2, 2009, 155-187.
Dickinson, O. The Aegean from Bronze Age to Iron Age. Continuity and Change Between the Twelfth and the Eighth Centuries BC. Routledge, London et al. 2006.
Drewett, P. Field Archaeology. An Introduction. UCL Press, London 2001 (1999).
Gamble, C. Archaeology: The Basics. Rutledge, New York al. 2001
Grant J., S. Gorin and N. Fleming. The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge 2008.
Grębska-Kulova, M. and I. Kulov. Prehistorical Sites in the Middle Struma River Valley between the End of the VIIth mill. BC and the beginning of the Ist Mill. BC.- In: H. Todorova, M. Stefanovich. G. Ivanov (eds.). The Struma/Strymon River Valley in Prehistory. In the Steps of James Harvey Gaul, 2. Sofia,2007, 279-296.
Harris, E. C.Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London 1979.
Roskams, St. Excavation. Cambridge Univ. Press. 2001
Stefanovich, M., H. A. Bankoff. Kamenska Cuka 1993 -1995. Preliminary report. In: Stefanovich, M. / H. Todorova / H. Hauptmann (eds.) In the Steps of J. H. Gaul, Vol. I, Sofia 1998, 255-338.
Stochkammer, Ph. The Change of Pottery's Social Meaning at the End of the Bronze Age: New Evidence from Tiryns. In: C. Bachhuber & R. G. Roberts (Eds.), Forces of Transformation: The End of the Bronze Age in the Mediterranean. Proceedings of an International Symposium Held at St. John’s College, Oxford, 25.–26. March 2006. Themes from the Ancient Near East BANEA Publication Series Vol. 1. Oxbow Books, Oxford 2009, 164–169.
Walker, W. H. Stratigraphy and practical reason. American Anthropologist 104, 1, 2002, 159-177.
RECOMMENDED READINGS (SESSIONS 2 AND 3 ONLY):
Appadurai, A. The Social life of things. Commodities in cultural perspective. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.), The Social life of things. Commodities in cultural perspective, Cambridge University Press, 1986, 3-63.
Berggren, A. The relevance of stratigraphy. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 22-25.
Cobb, H. / O. J. T. Harris / C. Jones / Ph. Richardson (eds.) Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork. Exploring On-Site Relationships Between Theory and Practice. Springer. New York et al. 2012
Bradley, R. The Excavation Report as a Literary Genre: Traditional Practice in Britain. World Archaeology 38, 4, 2006, 664-671.
Gosden, Chr. and Y. Marshall. The cultural biography of objects. World Archaeology, 31, 2, 1999, 169-178.
Hodder, I. Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships Between Humans and Things. Wiley-Blackwell 2012.
Kopytoff, I. The cultural biography of things. Commoditization as process. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.) 1986, The Social Life of Things, Cambridge 1986, 61-94.
Lucas, G. Critical Approaches to Fieldwork. Contemporary and Historical Archaeology Practice. Routledge. London and New York 2001.
Lyman, L. R. and M. J. O' Brien. Measuring Time with Artifacts. A History of Methods in American Archaeology. University of Nebraska Press 2006.
Maca, A. L. Remembering the basics. Social and stratigraphic debates and biases. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 31-38.
McAnany, P. and I. Hodder. Thinking about stratigraphic sequence in social terms. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 1-22.
McAnany, P. and I. Hodder. Thinking about archaeological excavation in reflexive terms. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 41-49.
Paice, P. Extensions to the Harris Matrix System to Illustrate Stratigraphic Discussion of an Archaeological Site. Journal of Field Archaeology 18, 1991, 17-28.
Schiffer, M. B. Formation Process of the Archaeological Record. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press 1987.
Skibo, J. M. and M. B. Schiffer. People and Thinks. A Behavioural Approach to Material Culture. Springer, New York 2008.
Yarrow, Th. Artefactual Persons: The Relational Capacities of Persons and Things in the Practice of Excavation. Norwegian Archaeological Review 36, 1, 2003, 65-73.
Project Venue: The spa resort village of Banya, Blagoevgrad District, Bulgaria. The village is located in the small valley dividing the Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site) from the Rila Mountains (the highest range in the Balkan Peninsula), not far from the famous ski resort of Bansko. The site is 3 km/ 1.5 mi away from the hotel, a drive of approximately 5-7 min. A daily BHF shuttle service is arranged for the participants to bring them to the site and back. The site has no running water or electricity but the team organizes drop-offs to the hotel WC upon request.
The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 150 km) and Thessaloniki (Greece, 216 km) - don't forget to check the low-cost flight options!
How to get there? If participants arrive at the Sofia airport, a shuttle (only for Sessions 1 and 3) or taxi transfer to the field school venue in Banya may be arranged by request
(please, specify this in your application form!). Individual or group transfer taxi prices may vary, depending on the number of passengers, from 38 to 114 EUR. The shuttle fee is 40 EUR per ride. Participants who arrange their travel individually will be expected to arrive either straight at the project venue Hotel Pri Spaska in Banya by 7:30 pm or at the bus stop in Bansko by 6:30 pm on the arrival day. From there they will be given a free ride to Banya. Earlier pick-ups from Bansko can be arranged per e-mail, phone call or SMS (contact info will be provided to all registered students). Direct bus lines connect Bansko and the Bulgarian capital Sofia
(150 km away) daily almost every hour from 7.00 am until approx. 4.00 pm (price approx. 12-15 EUR). 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. 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: In comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, tap hot water comes from a geothermal spring) at Hotel Pri Spaska. There are cheap laundry services available in the village and free Wi-Fi in the lab. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Staying an extra day at the hotel costs 15 EUR. Single rooms are limited but available upon request for the supplement of 100 EUR per week. Higher-class accommodation is also available at the Aquilon Residence & SPA - studios are available upon request for the supplement of 200 EUR per week.
Meals: Three meals of fresh Bulgarian food per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place in the Hotel Pri Spaska restaurant. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Brown-bag lunches during the excursions and days off. Vegan, kosher and gluten-free restrictions are impossible to accommodate in this location.
Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products!
See all accommodation options on our Information page!
Free time: Guided visits to the Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the traditional town of Bansko, Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and the History Museum of Blagoevgrad. Possible leisure activities during the siesta and days off in and around Banya are: swimming/sunbathing around the local swimming pools, spa, mountain hiking and climbing, horseback riding, soccer, tennis, badminton, traveling by the narrow gauge train to Velingrad (popular and larger spa and wellness town) or going shopping and sightseeing in the neighboring town of Bansko.
Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants can take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursion to the ancient Philippi and the Aegean coastal town of Kavala, Greece on 12-13 August, 2017). Students participating in the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans will be able to visit Greece for free. Participation to the excursion is open to the rest of the students for an additional fee.
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, just like Bulgarian citizens, as long as they can provide evidence of their home-country health insurance with a card/certificate, etc.
Weather: South-European (Transitional Mediterranean to Continental) climate with hot summers (30-40° C) dominates in the lower areas of the region. However, the area of Banya has a milder climate (20-30° C) due to the higher elevation and the vicinity of mountains. Rainy and chilly days in the summer are not unheard of.
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.
BHFS 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 any two-week session is 1147 EUR/ approx. 1285 USD
Super Early Bird Admission fee for four-week session is 2293 EUR/ approx. 2568 USD
Early Bird Admission fee for two week project session is 1214 EUR/ approx.1259 USD
Early Bird Admission fee for four week project session is 2428 EUR/ approx. 2719 USD
The regular admission fee for two week project session is 1349 EUR / approx.1511 USD
The regular admission fee for four week project session is 2563 EUR/ approx. 2870 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!