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Apollonia Pontica Excavation Project 2013

Location: Sozopol, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

August 3, 2013 to September 1, 2013

Session dates: 
Session 1: August 3-17, 2013; Session 2: 18 August - 1 September, 2013

Application Deadline: 
Monday, July 1, 2013

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

Program Type

Field school



Balkan Heritage Field School and Foundation (BH) - Bulgaria, Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team - Bulgaria, Archaeological Museum of Sozopol - Bulgaria and New Bulgarian University (NBU) - Bulgaria

Project Director:

Dr. Krastina Panayotova, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Teodora Bogdanova, Balkan Heritage archaeologist

Project Description

Despite being one of the largest and richest Ancient Greek colonies in the Black sea region, Apollonia Pontica (present-day Sozopol, Bulgaria) was famous in Antiquity because of the colossal statue of Apollo by Calamis. According to Pliny the Elder (Pliny 34.29) and Strabo (Strabo, 7.319) the 13-meter high bronze sculpture cost 500 Talents. It was raised in the fifth century B.C. in/in front of the temple dedicated to Apollo Ietros (the Healer) - patron deity of Apollonia Pontica. In 72 B.C. the Romans  under Marcus Lucullus sacked the city and the colossal sculpture was transported to Rome as a trophy. It was exhibited for several centuries on the Capitoline Hill. During the Early Christian period it was lost - probably destroyed as many other pagan artefacts.

Epigraphic sources mention that the temple of Apollo was situated on an island, identified by most of the scholars with St. Kirik Island - the closest one to the ancient city. However, until recently there was no archaeological evidence where the temple was situated.

The tiny island of St. Kirik is connected with the mainland  and the Old Town Quarter of Sozopol by a short and narrow breakwater (built in 1927). Its name originates  from the medieval monastery dedicated to St. Kirik and St.Yulita (St. Cyricus and his mother St. Julitta) that once existed there. The first archaeological survey on the island was conducted in 1904 by the French consul and scholar L. Degrand. The results from the excavations were never published and many precious artefacts from Archaic and Classical Greek period found there were transported to France and exhibited in the Louvre. For app. 100 years after that the territory of St. Kirik Island was used as a military zone by the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence. In 2005 the island was demilitarized and in 2009 the Apollonia Pontica Excavation Team lead by Dr. Krastina Panayotova restarted the excavations.  For the last two years the team unearthed there:

  • Archaic Greek settlement that existed here prior to the temenos (seventh-sixth century B.C.)
  • A Late Archaic temple complex: a temple and an altar (late sixth - early fifth century B.C.) - presumably belonging to the famous temple of Apollo; 
  • An oval altar and a temple from the Hellenistic period (fourth century B.C.);
  • An Ancient Greek tholos;
  • Three Ancient Greek bothroi (pit altars);
  • An Ancient Greek Copper Foundry; 
  • Early Byzantine basilica and necropolis (fifth - seventh century A.D.).
The great discovery convinced Bulgarian Government to declare the island  as a cultural heritage sight and to designate some of the abandoned military buildings  to be turned into a museum. Of course, after the surrounding area is excavated.
Season 2013 envisions excavations on the island top in the area western from the Archaic temple and northern from the Ancient Greek Copper Foundry where presumably structures and features of the Ancient Greek sacred precinct (temenos) and the Early Byzantine necropolis are expected to be found.
Come and help the project team reveal the secrets of the forgotten temple of Apollo! Two field school sessions of the project are available in 2013 - each includes the following three modules: fieldwork, educational course (lectures, workshops and field trainings in Classic and Field Archaeology), and excursions to archaeological and cultural sights in Sozopol and Nesebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as to some beautiful Black sea beaches and popular resorts.
Participants, who join all the two project sessions are going to have different schedule during the second session, including:
  1. An excursion to the megalithic complex of Begliktash and one of beaches in the area (it will take place during the second session exclusively for participants in both project sessions);
  2. (In the afternoons) Lab work related to the finds' processing, archaeological record and illustration of artifacts as well as conservation and restoration of pottery (esp. Ancient Greek pottery).

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.

Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.


Period(s) of Occupation: Archaic and Classical Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Byzantine (seventh century B.C. - seventh century A.D.)

Apollonia Pontica is one of the oldest and most important Ancient Greek cities in the Black Sea region (est. 610 B.C.).The field school project there includes: fieldwork related to excavations of the sacred precinct (temenos) of the ancient city, located on St. Kirik Island and occupied during the Archaic and Classical Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, and Early Byzantine periods (seventh century B.C. - seventh century A.D.); educational course (lectures, workshops and field training referring to both excavations' methodology and Classic archaeology) as well as excursions to Nessebar (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the Megalithic site of Begliktash as well as to some beautiful Black sea beaches and popular resorts. THE PROJECT IS SUITABLE FOR BOTH BEGINNERS AND ADVANCED IN FIELD ARCHAEOLOGY! Students could obtain up to nine academic credits upon request. EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION FEE valid through April 1st 2013. Other discounts off the admission fee are available!

Project size: 
25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 session (2 weeks)

Minimum age: 

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 uptown hotel rooms (with two to three beds, bathrooms with WC and shower), equipped with air-conditioning. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are also accepted!

Early Bird Admission fee (valid through April 1st 2013): €1,259 (app. $1,510 but please check current exchange rates) including all educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, full-board accommodation, administrative costs, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance and excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees. Regular Admission fee (valid after April 1st 2013): €1,399 (app. $1,799). Discounts off the regular 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 credits for participation in one project session and nine credits for participation in two sessions. Transcript is 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 str.
Stara Zagora
+359 877 725 057, +359 888 165 402
Recommended Bibliography: 

Boardman, J. 1999. The Greeks Overseas. Their Early Colonies and Trade (fourth edition). Thames & Hudson.

Bouzek, J. 2003. Studies of Greek Pottery in the Black Sea Area. Oxford.

Grammenos, D. V., Petropoloulos, E. K. 2003. Ancient Greek Colonies in the Black Sea. Vol. 1. Publications of the Archaeological institute of Northern Greece, Nr. 4.

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

Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn. 2006.  Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. New York.

Sparkes, B. 1991. Greek Pottery. The Introduction. Manchester University Press.

Theodore Pena, J. 2007.Pottery in the Archaeological Record.Cambridge University Press.

Tsetskhladze, Gocha R. 2006, 2008. Greek Colonisation: v. 1, 2: An Account of Greek Colonies and Other Settlements Overseas. Brill.