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Producing and Consuming the Transition: Excavations at the Early Iron Age site of Bresto, Southwest Bulgaria

Location: Razlog, Bulgaria

July 21, 2014 to August 24, 2014

Flyer: PDF icon bresto_2014_flyer.pdf

Program Type


RPA certified



Cornell University, New Bulgarian University, University of Heidelberg

Project Director:

John Gorczyk, Cornell University; Dr. Nerissa Russell, Cornell University; Dr. Bogdan Athanassov, New Bulgarian University; Dr. Philipp Stockhammer, University of Heidelberg

Project Description

Come join us for an exciting fieldwork opportunity at the Early Iron Age (EIA: 11th-8th century B.C.E.) site  of Bresto in southwestern Bulgaria! This will be the third season of excavations and promises to be the most interesting yet, as we continue to investigate the remains of two EIA houses and the large fortification wall discovered last year. The site is one of the very few known stratified Iron Age sites in SW Bulgaria, and has important implications for the prehistory of the Eastern Balkans. This project is on a volunteer basis, but is especially geared for students of archaeology, anthropology, history, etc. 

The collapse of the Late Bronze Age polities like Mycenae caused major changes to settlement patterns in what is today SW Bulgaria. The primary river valleys linking the interior of the Balkan peninsula with the Aegean world were abandoned and new fortified settlements grew up in more remote valleys. Along with this transition came changes to social organization, agricultural patterns, animal husbandry, and the development of new networks of trade and communication. To date we have uncovered a wealth of material culture that will help us investigate these issues, including an impressive array of EIA ceramics, metal tools and decorative items, lithics, animal bones and bone artifacts, architectural elements, implements for textile working (loom weights, spindle whorls) and much more. 

In addition to participating in the excavations, students will have the opportunity to process, document, and analyze artifacts on-site. Students with a particular interest in one type of material culture (e.g.ceramics or lithics) or an interest in a specific archaeological technique (surveying, photo documentation, geoelectrics, restoration) will have to opportunity to gain more experience in these areas.

And the best part is, it's free!


Period(s) of Occupation: Late Bronze Age, Early Iron Age

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: One week

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
Prior fieldwork experience is not necessary, but we are looking for eager volunteers/students with an interest in archaeological fieldwork.

Room and Board Arrangements

Room and board are paid for by the project. The field crew stays in the nearby village of Banya, in the guesthouse/hotel "Pri Spaska". The hotel restaurant provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The village is nestled in the foothills of the moutain and is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. Since hot water springs come down from the mountain, there are several spas as well as a mineral water swimming pool which is free for the archaeological team to use. There are plenty of things to do on the weekends including hiking, biking, swimming, and traveling to nearby towns.  The town of Razlog is 10km away with buses running everyday, and the ski resort town of Bansko is also 10 km away. The field site is about 70 km from the border with N. Greece and 100 km from the border with Macedonia (FYROM)
Travel within Bulgaria and related to the project is also covered. Volunteers are only responsible for arranging international travel. 


Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none


Contact Information
John Gorczyk
612 E. Buffalo St
United States