Rise and Fall of the First European “Civilization” - Tell Yunatsite Excavations 2014

Location: Pazardzhik, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

Saturday, July 19, 2014 to Saturday, August 9, 2014

Session dates: 
Session 1: 19 July - 2 August 2014; Session 2: 3 - 16 August 2014 & Session 3: 19 July - 9 August 2014

Application Deadline: 
Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Flyer: bhfs_brochure_season_2014.pdf

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

Program Type

Field school


The 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:

Ass. Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev, PhD in Archaeology, 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 RISE AND FALL OF THE FIRST EUROPEAN "CIVILIZATION" 2014 PROJECT will continue exploring in depth the earliest stages of tell's history through excavation of the Vasil Mikov's trench (app. 300 sq.m. Еxcavations that took place there in 1939 were restarted in 2012) and esp. the Copper age structures there: foundations of dwellings, amazingly well preseved Chalcolithic wooden flooring and a high number of ovens. During the small-scale excavations of the Mikov's trench in 2012 and 2013 archaeologists and students found numerous artifacts such as weapons, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines, Spondylus jewels, decorated fineware pottery, shards marked by characters/pictograms). All of them belong to the three earliest tell building levels 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 project sessions available in 2014 include the following three modules: 1.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; 2.lectures, workshops and field trainings in Prehistoric and Field Archaeology, Finds' processing and Documentation as well as 3. excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region such as the Pazardzhik Museum and the ancient town of Plovdiv.

The participants who join either the three-week session (3) or the two project sessions (1&2) will be able to  develop further their skills and competences regarding the field work and finds processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures, workshops and an excursion to Stara Zagora and the Museum of the Europe' best preserved Neolithic (5600 BC) dwellings.

All participants will receive:

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


Period(s) of Occupation: Chalcolithic (or Copper age, 4900 - 4100 BC) - IN THE PROJECT'S FOCUS, Early Bronze Age (3100-2200 BC), Iron Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session (two weeks)

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Participants will be accommodated n comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi) in a downtown-hotel in Pazardzhik. There is a laundry service available at the hotel. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Single rooms are available upon request for an additional fee.

The regular admission fee is 1249 /1799 / 2373 EUR (app. 1550 / 2338 / 2990 USD) for participation in one / extended / two project sessions. The Admission fee includes educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, full-board accommodation (including three meals per day), Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
New Bulgarian University
Number of credits offered 6/9 credit hours
starting from 345 EUR


Contact Information
Ms. Anna Parmakova
204 Sveta Troitsa St.
Stara Zagora
+ 359 877 725 052
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 - http://www.harrismatrix.com

 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.