Ancient Greeks in the Land of Dionysos - Excavation of Emporion Pistiros, Thrace, 2018 (Balkan Heritage/ Institute for Field Research)

Location: Septemvri-Karabunar, Bulgaria

July 23, 2018 to August 20, 2018

Session dates: 
Two-week session 1: 23 July - 6 August, 2018; Two-week session 2: 6 - 20 August, 2018; Three-week session: 23 July - 13 August, 2018; Four-week session: 23 July - 20 August, 2018 .

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, July 1, 2018

Deadline Type: 
Exact date

Flyer: PDF icon bhfs_2018.pdf

Discount for AIA members: 
5% discount off the regular admission fee (for applying directly through BHFS)

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Balkan Heritage Foundation (Bulgaria), Institute for Field Research (USA), National Archaeological Institute, Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, “Prof. Mieczyslaw Domaradzki” Archaeological Museum in Septemvri and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria);

Project Director:

Asst. Prof. Alexey Gotsev, (PhD in Archaeology) National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Visiting professors: Dr Jacqueline Christmas and Dr Judith Bannerman - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, UK; Dr Lidia Domaradska - Sofia University: Ass. Prof. Tzvete Lazova - New Bulgarian University; Gavrail Lazov - Director of the Department “Archaeology” at the National Museum of History, Sofia.

Project Description

Excavation of the Ancient Greek emporion Pistiros in the heart of Thrace is to reveal more secrets about the material culture of Greeks and Thracians, trading and living together from the End of the 5th CBE until the Celtic Invasion on the Balkans in the beginning of 3rd CBE. The site being extremely rich in ceramics (both local and imported Greek productions), coins (Thracian, Greek and Macedonian) and metal objects, is an excellent learning field for the trade, metallurgy, and every-day and religious life, especially the cult of Dionysоs (which most of the ancient authors consider rooting in Thrace) in Classical and Hellenistic periods. The project provides amazing opportunities to dig at Pistiros, Bulgaria and gain hands-on experience in Field Archaeology; learn more about the Ancient Greek and Thracian culture, coexisting in Pistiros in the late Classical and Hellenistic periods; visit Thracian Royal tombs in the Rose Valley of Kazanlak (UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and the ancient Philippopolis - Plovdiv (European Capital of Culture 2019), as well many other archaeological and historical sites in the area. The project sessions combine the following three modules: 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; lectures, workshops and field training in Classical and Field Archaeology, Introduction in History and archaeology of Thrace, finds' processing and documentation; excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region and Plovdiv.



The participants who join either the three-week and four-week project sessions 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 some of the most remarkable Thracian royal tombs in the Rose valley in and around Kazanlak and Starosel, Bulgaria. The participants who join four week project session will be able to attend the Workshops on Advanced Digital Imaging for Archaeological Recording alongside the excavation.

There are three application/enrollment paths for this field school:

1. All students at universities/colleges outside Europe seeking academic credit units must apply through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA. Click here to apply.

2. All students at universities/colleges in Europe seeking ECTS academic credit units must apply through the Balkan Heritage Field School. Click here to apply.

3.  Participants who don’t need academic credits must apply through the Balkan Heritage Field School. Click here to apply.


Period(s) of Occupation: Late Classical, Hellenistic (5th - 3rd century BCE)

Major field school topics/activities: Interactions between Ancient Greek and Thracian civilizations (with emphasis on trade and religion); Excavations of the Ancient Greek emporion Pistiros in Thrace (5th – 3rd century BCE); History and archaeology of ancient Thrace; Reflectance Transformation Imaging and Photogrammetry in collaboration with University of Exeter, UK; Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation; Processing of finds and samples; Documentation of Classical and Hellenistic Finds; Excursions to significant heritage sites in Thrace, Bulgaria. Academic credits are available for students through NBU, Bulgaria and Connecticut College, USA.

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Two weeks

Minimum age: 

Experience required: 
No experience required. However, the project is not recommended for individuals with solar allergies or other special illnesses that might be exacerbated during the intensive outdoor activities.

Room and Board Arrangements

 "Villa Terres" will host the field school in 2018. It is a newly built SPA complex & Winery in the village Karabunar. Accommodation in comfortable rooms two beds and suits with three  (bathrooms with shower and WC), equipped with air-conditioning and TV. The hotel swimming pool & SPA facilities  as well as Wi-Fi can be used for free. Cheap laundry service is available. During the project work days all participants will be given a lift from the hotel to the site (that is located 14 km away) and back. Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee.


1) For students at universities/colleges outside Europe seeking for 12 quarter credit units through Connecticut College, USA the admission + tuition fee (for the four-week session only) = 4220 USD; 2) For students at European universities/ colleges and 3) Participants who do not seek for credit units the admission fees for two/ four-week sessions start from 1349/2049/2563 EUR.

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College, USA and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria.
Number of credits offered 1) 12 quarter (equivalent to 8 semester) credit units through Connecticut College, USA for students at universities/colleges outside Europe attending the four-week session only; 2) 6/9 ECTS credit units through New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria for students at European universities/ colleges attending two-/three/ four-week session.
For students at universities/ colleges outside Europe it is included in the admission fee specified above. 2) For students at universities/ colleges in Europe 6/9 ECTS credit units cost 282/ 423 EUR for six/ nine/ ECTS credits.


Contact Information
Balkan Heritage Foundation / Institute for Field Research
7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7 / 2999 Overland Ave. #103
Sofia / Los Angeles
Sofia / CA - California
Bulgaria / United States
1504 / 90064
+ 359 877 725 052 (BHF); US Toll free number +1 (877) 839-4374 (IFR)
Recommended Bibliography: 

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. (eds.). The Culture of Thracians and their Neigh­bours. Proceedings of the International Symposium in Memory of Prof. Miec­zysław Domaradzki, with a Round Ta­ble ‘Archaeological map of Bulgaria’. BAR International Series 1350. Oxford, 2005.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzki, M.†, Doma­radzka, L., Taneva, V. Fortification and ur­ban planning of the Emporion Pistiros (Adžijska Vodenica). – Archeologia (Warszawa) LII 2001, Warszawa 2002, 7 – 18.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L., Gotzev, A., Ivanova E., Katincharova, D., Kolaro­va, V., Lazov, G., Taneva, V., Youroukova, Y. Pistiros and the Celts. (In:) Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Black Sea Antiquities. Eirene 42, Prague 2006, 124 – 129.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. The Empo­rion Pistiros near Vetren between great­er Powers, 450 – 278 B.C. (In:) Thrace in the Graeco-Roman World, Athens 2008, 86 – 94.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and the North Aegean Greek Cities. Ancient Macedonia. Proceedings of the 7th Inter­national Symposion on Ancient Mace­donia. Thessaloniki 2007, 2009, 745 – 758.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros. Facts and Opinions. Eirene XLV/2009, Prague 2009, 147 – 154.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Pistiros and Inland Emporia in the Balkans: Greeks, Thracians, and their Neighbours. – Eirene XLVI/2010/I – II, Prague 2010, 157 – 160.

Bouzek, J., Domaradzka, L. Greeks in Inner Thrace. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 45 – 60.

Taneva, V. The Potter’s Kiln Found at Pistiros. Eirene XLVII/2011/I – II, Prague 2012, 25 – 28.   

Valeva, J., Nankov, E., Graninger D. (ed.) A Companion to Ancient Thrace, Wiley Blackwell, 2015.