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Narta Lagoon Archaeological Project

Location: Vlora, Albania

June 30, 2014 to August 5, 2014

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, February 15, 2014

Flyer: PDF icon albania_summer_2014.pdf

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



SUNY Buffalo, Institute for European and Mediterranean Archaeology, and The Albanian Institute of Archaeology

Project Director:

Professor Ilir Gjipali, Albanian Institute of Archaeology and Professor Peter F. Biehl, SUNY Buffalo; Project Field Director: Eugen Ruzi, SUNY Buffalo

Project Description

The Narta Lagoon is an environmentally diverse wetland area near Vlora, SW Albania. The lagoon is situated in a superbly strategic location, as it is demonstrated by its geographical proximity to one of the most famous roads of antiquity, the Via Egnatia – once connecting Rome to Constantinople. Only a few kilometers north, there is the ancient Apollonia, a Greek colony established in the 6th century BC. Three UNESCO World Heritage sites, Berat, Butrint and Gjirokastër are found in the vicinity as well. The area around the site is remarkably diverse in its ecology, cultural variation, and historical monuments. The proximity to Greece and Italy has given the region a multi-cultural aura, unsurpassed by any other in Europe.

Vlora is the third largest city in Albania. A legendary view of high mountains complements the panorama of the city in the East and the South. Albania’s proclamation of independence from the Ottoman Empire was first declared in Vlora, which briefly became the seat of the first Albanian government. The proximity to Italy and Greece, has given the city a multicultural quality, noticeable especially in everyday activities and cuisine. The bay of Vlora marks the boundary between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas, making the city one of the most touristic zones of Albania.

The UB Archaeology in Albania summer program, hosted at the Narta Lagoon Archaeological Project, aims to investigate the spread of the earliest farming communities to Europe and the reaction of these early farmers to the effects of a climate change that occurred 8,200 years ago. The survey and excavation at the Narta Lagoon will provide students with a detailed understanding of cutting-edge archaeological method and theory, and a firsthand experience of modern excavation and survey methodology.

Students will earn a total 6 credits upon successful completion of APY 338/538 LAB Field Research Archaeology, which provides an intensive and rewarding archaeological field and lab experience for undergraduate and graduate students interested in archaeology and consists of daily excavations, evening lectures and weekly field trips to the cultural highlights of the region. The lecture program consists of presentations, seminars and discussions with local and international specialists and includes all facets of archaeology, anthropology and history. Students will be exposed to the ethnic melting pot of the Balkans, as scholars and students from Albania and its neighboring countries, such as Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Kosovo, will be invited to participate in this truly international, interdisciplinary and multi-cultural program.

Excursions and Extracurricular Activities: Students will have the chance to visit two World Heritage sites: Berat and Butrint.  The former is medieval town with an excellently preserved 2500 years old castle, the only inhabited Iron Age castle of its kind in Europe. The second is a world famous site, home of the temple of Asclepius, ancient god of medicine. Butrint is located in one of the most interesting ecological landscapes in the world, built on a small peninsula inside a saltwater lake in front of the island of Corfu. In addition, the students will visit the site of Apollonia, a classical Greek colony, which was the location of emperor Augustus collegium.   

Period(s) of Occupation: From Upper Paleolithic to Classical Period

Diverse landscape features. Within a square kilometer you can find artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic to the Classical Period.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

During their time in Albania, students will live and dine at a large villa in Narta, a touristic village on the shores of the Adriatic Sea, not far from the pleasant city of Vlora. Full-time Albanian cooks will provide 3 meals per day. The quality of the food is outstanding, as the region is famous for its culinary tradition and the freshness of its produce.

See Website

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
University at Buffalo
Number of credits offered 6 credit hours


Contact Information
Eugen Ruzi
380 MFAC, Ellicott Complex