Ancient Greeks in the Land of Dionysos – Excavation of Emporion Pistiros, Thrace, 2019 (Balkan Heritage/ Institute for Field Research)

Location: Septemvri-Karabunar, BG

Season: July 22, 2019 to August 19, 2019

Session Dates: Two-week session 1: 22 July - 5 August, 2019; Two-week session 2: 5 - 19August, 2019; Four-week session: 22 July - 19 August, 2019 .

Application Deadline: July 1, 2019

Deadline Type: Exact date


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

Program Type:
Field school, Volunteer

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 Domaradzka - Sofia University: Ass. Prof. Tzvete Lazova - New Bulgarian University; Gavrail Lazov (MA in Archaeology), Archaeologist and Museologist; Valentina Taneva (MA in Archaeology), Archaeologist and Numismatist; National Historical Museum, Pazardjik; Maya Nikolova, Pottery Conservator at the Archaeological Museum "Prof. M. Domaradski", Septemvri, Bulgaria;

Project Description:

The ruins of an ancient Greek trade center (emporion) in the heart of Thrace – on the left bank of Maritsa River (ancient Hebros), between the towns of Vetren and Septemvri, were discovered by Prof. M. Domaradzki in 1988. He started regular excavations and in 1990, his team found a stone inscription (known as “Vetren inscription”) that helped the scholars identify the site as the Ancient Greek emporion named Pistiros. Merchants from Greek coastal cities of Maroneia, Thassos and Apollonia lived and traded there with their Thracian neighbors under the supreme protection of the Thracian Odrysian kings (the biggest and mightiest Thracian Kingdom at that time). 

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 BCE until the Celtic Invasion on the Balkans in the beginning of 3rd BCE. 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 the four-week project session will be able to further develop their skills and competences regarding 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: 18

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 Hotel, Karabunar, Bulgaria - in comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC), equipped with a/c and TV in a local newly built hotel. The hotel has a small swimming pool and SPA, free of charge for the participants in the field school. There are cheap laundry services and free Wi-Fi is provided. Extra night - 30 EUR (per night per person), Single room - 200 EUR (for two-week period).      Meals: Three meals (fresh, organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) in the hotel’s restaurant. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Brown-bag lunches during the excursions and days off. Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products! Cost: 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) = 4670 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 1199/2299 EUR.

Academic Credit:
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-/ four-week session. credits offered by Connecticut College, USA and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria.. Tuition is .

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

1504 / 90064

Bulgaria / United States

Phone: + 359 877 725 052 (BHF); US Toll free number +1 (877) 839-4374 (IFR)

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