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BHFS The Birth of Europe: Excavations of the Neolithic Settlement Ilindentsi, Bulgaria 2015 + OPTIONAL TRIPS TO ISTANBUL (TURKEY) AND PHILIPPI AND KAVALA ON THE AEGEAN COAST (GREECE)

Location: Ilindentsi, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

June 13, 2015 to July 12, 2015

Session dates: 
Session 1: 13 June – 27 June 2015; Session 2: 28 June – 12 July 2015

Application Deadline: 
Friday, May 15, 2015
Monday, June 15, 2015

Flyer: PDF icon bh_f_2015_brochure.pdf

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

Program Type

Field school



The Balkan Heritage Foundation, Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, New Bulgarian University, Municipality of Strumyani (Bulgaria), Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre (France)

Project Director:

Dr. Malgorzata Grebska-Kulova (archaeologist and curator at Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History).

Project Description

In the seventh millenium BC the Balkan Peninsula was a gate through which farming, animal husbandry and generally Neolithisation spread to Europe from Anatolia and the Near East. Central parts of the Balkans (including the Struma River Valley) were among the most important migration routes during that period. Six Early Neolithic settlements are mapped in the small Middle Struma River Valley. One of them is the prehistoric site near Ilindentsi. During the previous excavation seasons: 2004 – 2009 and 2011 - 2014 archaeologists unearthed there remains of various Early and Middle Neolithic settlement structures and features.  Among them are several dwellings: one of them with stone foundations, another one with elaborate floor construction and under-floor drainage systems and a third one completely burnt with well preserved in situ "kitchen-space" including an oven, grain-store, quern-stone, two Neolithic grave-pits: of a baby and a piglet and numerous waste pits.


Guided visits to the medieval town of Melnik, Rozhen Monastery,the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as the  town of Sandanski - a popular SPA resort,keeping archaeological remains from the Late Antiquity are part of the field school program and are covered by the admission fee. The village of Ilindentsioffers  great opportunities for mountain hikes in the Pirin Mountains, walks in the Art Center Ilindentsi and  wine-tasting of local wines at Kiossev Boutique Wine Cellar


Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursions to:

1. Philippi, Kavala and the Aegean coast (Greece) available only for students in this field school project between the first and the second session on 27-28 June, 2015.

2. Istanbul and Troy (Turkey) on 6-10 June, 2015 available for all BHFS students. 


Period(s) of Occupation: The Neolithic settlement in Ilindentsi, Bulgaria corresponds chronologically (6000 - 5400 BC) to other Balkan, Anatolian and Near Eastern sites and cultures such as: Karanovo I (Eastern Balkans), Achilleon (Southern Balkans), Hacilar VI-I, Çatalhöyük - Western Tell (Anatolia).

Bridging Europe and the Near East the Balkan Peninsula was a gate through which farming, animal husbandry and Neolithisation spread to the rest of the continent as early as the seventh millennium BC. The field school provides to all participants opportunities to dig at one of the earliest Neolithic settlements in Europe located in Ilindentsi, Bulgaria and gain hands-on experience in Field Archaeology; learn more about the Neolithic period in Europe and the Near East from prominent Bulgarian and French archaeologists and visit Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and Melnik, Bulgaria. Optional trip to Philippi and the Aegean coastal town of Kavala, Greece. Up to 9 credit hours available.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

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

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 

Room and Board Arrangements

Accommodation is in a local guest house (comfortable rooms with two to three beds + bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, Wi-Fi). Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. 

EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: December 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015 (includes 10% discount off the admission fees)! Early Bird Admission fee for one project session is 1169 EUR / Early Bird Admission fee for for two project sessions is 2338 EUR / app.2969 USD*. The admission fee includes 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.

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
7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7
+ 359 877 725 052
Recommended Bibliography: 

Boyadzhiev, Y. Early Neolithic Cultures on the Territory of Bulgaria. – In: I. Gatsov, Y. Boyadzhiev (eds.). The first Neolithic Sites in Central/South-East European Transcet, vol. I. Early Neolithic Sites on the Territory of Bulgaria. BAR International Series 2048, 2009, 7-43.

Bojadžiev, J. Absolute Chronology of the Neolithic and Eneolithic Cultures in the Valley of Struma.- In: H. Todorova, M. Stefanovich. G. Ivanov (eds.). The Struma/Strymon River Valley in Prehistory. In the Steps of James Harvey Gaul, 2. Sofia,2007, 309-316.

Gimbutas, M. Neolithic Macedonia. As reflected by Excavation at Anza, Southeast Yougoslavia. Monumenta Archeologica 1. Los Angeles, 1976.

Grębska-Kulova, M. and I. Kulov. Prehistorical Sites in the Middle Struma River Valley between the End of the VIIth  mill. BC and the beginning of the Ist Mill. BC.- In: H. Todorova, M. Stefanovich. G. Ivanov (eds.). The Struma/Strymon River Valley in Prehistory. In the Steps of James Harvey Gaul, 2. Sofia,2007, 279-296.

Гребска-Кулова, M. Раннонеолитната култура в долината на Средна Струма, Югозападна България (TheEarlyNeolithicCultureintheMiddleStruma(Strymon) RiverValley, South-WesternBulgaria)– in:Праисторически проучвания в България: нови предизвикателства (Prehistoric Research in Bulgaria: NewChallenges). София, 2008, 56-65.(Abstract in English)

Lichardus-Itten, M. and J.-P. Demoule, L. Perničeva, M. Grebska-Kulova, I. Kulov. The site of Kovacevo and the Beginnings of the Neolithic period in Southwestern Bulgaria. The French-Bulgarian excavations 1986-2000. – In: Beiträge zu Jungsteinzeitlichen Forschungen in Bulgarien. Eds.  M. Lichardus-Itten, J. Lichardus, V. Nikolov.Bonn, 2002, 99-158.

Malamidou, D. and D. Kryoneri.  A Neolithic and Early Bronze Settlement in the Lower Strymon Valley.- In: H. Todorova, M. Stefanovich. G. Ivanov (eds.). The Struma/Strymon River Valley in Prehistory. In the Steps of James Harvey Gaul, 2. Sofia,2007, 297-308.

Mitrevski, D., Prehistory in Republic of Macedonia-F.Y.R.O.M. – In: D. Grammenos (ed.). Recent Research in the Prehistory of the Balkans. Thessaloniki, 2003, 13-72.

Nikolov, D. Periodization of the Neolithic along the Struma Valley. In: Academia Litterarum Bulgarica.. Thracia XV. In honorem annorium LXX Aleksandri Fol. Serdicae, MMIII, 99-106.

Perlès, C. The Early Neolithic in Greece. The first farming communities in Europe. Cambridge, 2001.

Pernicheva, L. Prehistoric Cultures in the Middle Struma Valley: Neolithic and Eneolithic - In: Prehistoric Bulgaria. Monographs in World Archaeology No 22. Edited by D. Bailey, I. Panayotov, pp. 99-147. Madison Wisconsin 1995: 

Perničeva, L. Prehistory of the Strumešnica valley - In: Śliwa J., Domaradzki, M., (eds.). The lower Strumešnica Valley in prehistoric, ancient and early medieval times. Kraków, 1983, 11-34.

Perničeva, L. and I. Kulov, M. Grebska-Kulova. Early Neolithic House from Bălgarčevo, Blagoevgrad Region (SW Bulgaria). – Archeologia Bulgarica, 2000, 3, 1-10.

Weninger, B. and E. Alram-Stern, E. Bauer, L. Clare, U. Danzeglocke, O. Jöris, C. Kubatzki, G. Rollefson, H. Todorova, T. van Andel. Abrupt Climate Forcing Observed at Early Neolithic Sites in South-East Europe and the Near East. – In: The Struma River Valley in Prehistory. H. Todorova, M. Stefanovich, G. Ivanov (eds.), Sofia 2007, 7-28.

Čochadžiev, S. and V. Genadieva. Contribution to the Study of the Early Neolithic Age in the Struma River Basin. - In: M. Stefanovič, H. Todorova, H. Hauptmann (Hrsg.). James Harvey Gaul in Memoriam 1. Sofia, 1998, 79-89.