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Tell Yunatsite: Excavation of One of the Earliest Urban Settlemets in Europe

Location: Pazardjik, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

July 20, 2013 to August 10, 2013

Session dates: 
Standard project: 20 July - 3 August, 2013; Extended project: 20 July - 10 August, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 15, 2013

Discount for AIA members: 
5% off the regular admission fee.

Program Type

Field school


Balkan Heritage Foundation, Tell Yunatsite Exacavation Team (National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Project Director:

Yavor Boyadzhiev, PhD in Archaeology, Archaeologist and Associated Professor at the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Project Description

Tell Yunatsite is located in the fields next to the Bulgarian village of Yunatsite, NW Thrace. Its diameter is app. 110 m and its maximal height of 12 m above the modern surface. The tell was excavated for the first time in 1939 by Bulgarian archaeologist Vasil Mikov. However, regular excavations of the site did not start before 1976, when the archaeological project was initiated by the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In the course of time the project was joined by Soviet and Greek excavation teams. So far one third of the tell has been excavated in its eastern part, still without reaching the sterile layers. The tell is topped by a medieval cemetery, ruins of a Roman fort and two layers from the Early Iron Age followed in depth by a thick Early Bronze age layer (3100-2200 cal. BC) with 17 building levels and a sterile layer (hiatus) that separates the EBA layer and the Copper age layer. Under all these sequences is found the 4 m thick Chalcolithic layer.

The Tell Yunatsite  - Excavation of One of the Earliest Urban Settlemets in Europe PROJECT envisions further excavation of the following:
  1. the Early/Middle Copper age structures: foundations of a dwelling and a high number of ovens, found along with numerous artifacts (weapons, Spondylus jewels, decorated fineware pottery, shards marked by characters/pictograms) in 2012 when the excavation of 1939-trench was restarted. All of them belong to the earliest tell layers excavated so far. The area provides an amazing opportunity for all field school participants to study textbook clear stratigraphy, to practice all basic excavation techniques in the field and to look through centuries of the everyday life of the Copper age inhabitants of Tell Yunatsite. The objective: to continue exploring in depth the earliest stages of tell's history.
  2. the sector where the segment of prehistoric fortification wall and ditch were uncovered. The objective: to gain further data about the structure of the earliest fortification of the Copper age settlement (optional).

The field school project has two versions: Standard (two weeks) and Extended (three weeks) available in 2013. Both project versions include following three modules: fieldwork including excavation, 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 level device, and taking photographs at the site; lectures, workshops and field trainings in Prehistoric and Field Archaeology, Finds' processing and Documentation as well as excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region such as the ancient town of Plovdiv. Participants who join the Extended Field School Project will be able to train and develop further skills and competences regarding the field work and finds processing gained during the intensive first two-week course and to attend a pair of extra lectures, workshops and an excursion to Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings.

Period(s) of Occupation: Copper Age (4900 - 4100 B.C.), Early Bronze Age (3100-2200 B.C.), Iron Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 14 days

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

Experience required: 
No, but all participants are expected to have some (at least theoretical) background in archaeological field techniques and methods.

Room and Board Arrangements

In rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, air-conditioning and Wi-Fi) in a downtown-hotel. There is a laundry service available at the hotel. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee.

The admission fee for the Standard Project/Extended Project is 1249/1789 EUR (app.1550/2200 USD. Check current exchange rates!). including educational and fieldwork activities, full-board accommodation (hotel + 3 meals per day), tools, materials, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.Discounts off the admission fee are available in case of: 1) AIA membership; 2) Participation in more than 1 BH project or project session in 2013; 3) Small Groups (two or three people, who participate in a BH project in 2013); 4) Larger Groups (four or more people, who participate in a BH project in 2013).

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria
Number of credits offered New Bulgarian University grants to students six academic credits for participation in the project. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee.
€345/515 for 6/9 credits (for students outside EU). Participants who don't need academic credits, won't be expected to pay for the tuition fee.


Contact Information
Ms. Anna Parmakova - Admissions / Balkan Heritage Field School
204 Sveta Troitsa St.
Stara Zagora, BG-6004
Phone: +359 878 441 251
Recommended Bibliography: 

Balabina, V., T. Mishina - Considering the Destruction of the Latest Eneolithic Village at Tell Yunatsite – In: Boyadzhiev, Y., S. Terzijska-Ignatova (eds.) - The Golden Fifth Millennium. Thrace and Its Neighbour Areas in the Chalcolithic, Sofia 2011, 39-47.

 Grant J., Sam Gorin and Neil Fleming. The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge. 2008

 Harris, E. - Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. London & New York: Academic Press, 1989 Available in Internet -

 McIntosh, J. Handbook to Life in Prehistoric Europe. New York, 2006

 Merpert N. J. Bulgaro-russian Archeological Innvestigations in the Balkans. Ancient Civilisations from Scythia to Siberia – In: International Journal of Comparative Studies in History and Archeology, Vol. 2, N 3, Leiden 1995, 364-383.

 Merpert N. J. - The problem of transition from the North Balkan Aeneolithic to the Early Bronze Age in the Upper Thracian valley – In: Europa Indo-Europea, Roma 1994, 41-50.

 Телль Юнаците. Эпоха бронзы, Том ІІ. Часть первая. (Москва, 2007) (a summary in English is available after each chapter).

Todorova N., Mazanova V. - Late Chalcolithic Ceramic Style at Yunatsite Tell (Approach to the Systematization of the Ceramics from the Newly Excavated Levels) – In: Nikolova L. (ed.) - Technology, Style and Society. BAR International Series 854, Oxford 2000, 331-361.

Zäuner, S. - The Dark Side of the Chalcolithic. Evidence for Warfare at Tell Yunatsite? An anthropological approachBoyadzhiev, Y., S. Terzijska-Ignatova (eds.) - The Golden Fifth Millennium. Thrace and Its Neighbour Areas in the Chalcolithic, Sofia 2011, 49-56.