Location: Sofia and Western Bulgaria, Bulgaria
The decline of Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires in the fourteenth century, rise and fall of Serbian Kingdom (an Empire between 1346-1371), Ottoman conquest of South-eastern Europe and the apogee of Ottoman power between the second half of the fourteenth and the end of seventeenth century highlight the Balkan Late Medieval Period. Churches and chapels that will be visited and studied were built during these turbulent times in one of the few Balkan areas where the traditions of all the major Balkan Late Medieval Art Schools and Guilds (those of Constantinople, Tarnovo, Ohrid, Thessaloniki, the Athos Holy Mountain, Epirus, Creta and the Danubain principalities) met. What we see today from the once flourishing medieval Orthodox art in the area are just small chapels and churches that survived the “disastrous” Ottoman invasion in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Many of these monuments are characterized by humble architecture and often hide exquisite frescoes behind their unattractive exterior. Most of them have been abandoned long ago. There is visible damage due to both hostile acts of Muslims (in the period of Ottoman domination: fifteenth to nineteenth century.) and/or weather conditions ruining them after they were abandoned.
This project aims to support the documentation of medieval frescoes preserved in abandoned churches and chapels in remote areas of Western Bulgaria. Their number has permanently decreased due to the lack of effort to preserve and protect them from weather damage. For the last five years the “Fresco-Hunting” Photo Expedition has been upgrading the existing database of drawn and photographic records of eleven churches and chapels in Western Bulgaria. The task of the expedition envisioned for 2014 is to enhance the database created during the previous seasons by documenting frescoes and their condition as well as collecting new data on history, architecture, artifacts and environment of the ecclesiastical buildings they belong to. The objective is: the publication of a ‘Corpus of Medieval Frescoes from Western Bulgaria’ and development of further projects to support the sites in danger through conservation,restoration, development/improvement of the site's management and fund-raising.
The field school project is comprised of two parts:
1. Standard Field School Project (17 - 31 May, 2014):
2. Extended Field School Project Stage (1 - 7 June, 2014):
Note, the fieldwork will involve travel to the church sites (app. 60-80 km away from Bankya)! Transport will be arranged by BH Field School.
The project will admit participants to:
All participants will receive:
The project is not recommended for individuals with special illnesses that might exacerbate during the intensive outdoor activities. All participants are expected to bring individual digital cameras. The participants are encouraged to bring a laptop having at least 5 GB free disk space, a mouse and an USB flash drive.
Period(s) of Occupation: Late Medieval period (14th to 17th centuries)
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)
Room and Board Arrangements
Chavrukov, G. Bulgarian monasteries. Septemvri Publishing House, Sofia. 1978
Cormack, Robin. Byzantine Art (Oxford History of Art). Oxford University Press. 2000
Filov, B. Early Bulgarian Art. Paul Haupt. 1919
Mango, Cyril. History of World Architecture: Byzantine Architecture. Rizzoli International Publishing, New York. 1978.
Mora. P., Laura Mora. Conservation of Wall Paintings (Butterworth - Heinemann Series in Conservation and Museology). Butterworth-Heinemann. 1984
Safran, L (Editor). Heaven on Earth: Art and the Church in Byzantium. Pennsylvania State University Press. 1998
Tragido, Alfredo. Icons and Saints of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Guide to Imagery Series). 2006.