Fieldwork

Excavation of the Roman Road Station on Via Diagonalis – Mansio Lissae – Bona Mansio, 2020 (Balkan Heritage)

Location: Septemvri, Karabunar, BG

Season: August 22, 2020 to September 19, 2020

Session Dates: Two-week session 1: 22 August - 5 September; Two-week session 3: 5 - 19 September; Three-week session 2: 22 August - 12 September; Four-week session 4: 22 August - 19 September

Application Deadline: July 10, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling

Website: https://www.bhfieldschool.org/program/roman-excavations-bona-mansio

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

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:
No

Affiliation:
Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF), Septemvri Archaeological Museum "Prof. Mieczyslaw Domaradzki", New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria)

Project Director:
Alexander Manev (PhD Candidate in Archaeology, Department of Classical Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences); Co-ordinator: Angela Pencheva (PhD in Classical Archaeology; Balkan Heritage Foundation & Field School Program Coordinator)

Project Description:

  

Via Diagonalis (Via Militaris) became the most important road through the Balkan Peninsula in Roman times when it connected the city of Singidunum (today’s Belgrade, Serbia) on the Danube River with Byzantium (Istanbul) – the city which would later become the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The road is ca. 1000 km (600 miles) long and passes through large important Roman cities like Naissus, Serdica, Philippopolis and Hadrianopolis. It is the fundamental connection between the western part of the Empire and the East. It was also the official route for armies moving throughout the provinces.

Mansio Lissae, later renamed Bona Mansio (Lat. Good Station) is one of the few archaeologically identified Roman road stations on the route of Via Diagonalis. The initial name of the site derives from the putative nearby Thracian settlement of Lissa. The road station was a fortified structure, one of many, intended to safeguard the main road. It is situated in the Thracian Valley, between the Roman cities of Serdica (modern Sofia) and Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv). The station is in the form of an irregular tetragon, surrounded by thick walls with corner towers. The ruins of the fortification are still visible high above ground.

  

The very first investigations of the site were limited sounding trenches dug in 2002 within a Bulgarian-French archaeological campaign which sought to research the ancient legacy of the region. The trenches have revealed a thick cultural layer of over 3 meters in depth. The ruins of fortification walls as high as 4 meters were also unearthed. The archaeologists discovered Roman pottery and coins from the 3rd and 4th CE. Nevertheless, the chronology and characteristics of the structure still remain unclear.

Although no modern construction threatens the Roman cultural legacy, the site is considered endangered. Since Roman archaeological valuables attract the interest of many people, during the last decades, the site has turned into a training ground for treasure hunters. The hazard of further destruction, as well as scientific interest in the site, have set this project into motion. With the first archaeological campaigns in 2016 – 2019, BHF aimed also to draw the attention of the local community and the interest of the surrounding municipalities to put this endangered site on their priority list for protection of cultural heritage. Currently BHF is still the main sponsor of the excavations and the entire income from the field school participation fees for the 2020 season will be spent on financing the archaeological campaign! 

The practical goal of the excavation in 2020 is to continue uncovering the fortification wall and to create a long-term strategy for the preservation of the architectural elements of the settlement. The scientific aspect of the project aims to gather information about the character and the chronological development of the site and thus to contribute to the study of the Roman road system in Thrace. In accordance to these objectives the starting campaign of the project is set with the following tasks:

  • Create a major plan of the existing fortification structures.
  • Carry out excavations within the fortification wall and outside.
  • Plot the excavated area on the major plan.
  • Process and document all the collected material from the excavations.
  • Work out general stratigraphy for the site.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman, Late Roman, Medieval

Notes:
Field school & archaeological excavation. Mansio Lissae, later renamed Bona Mansio (Lat. Good Station) is one of the few archaeologically identified Roman road stations on the route of Via Diagonalis. The project is especially appropriate for students who would like to gather more experience with practical archaeological work in Roman and Late Roman Archaeology: technical documentation (drawing & photography), filling of context sheets and inventory cards, pottery reading and statistics, as well as completion of official field reports. The course includes intensive lectures on Roman and Late Roman Balkan Archaeology & History, as well as workshops on pottery & metal conservation!

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Two weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: Participation in 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:
Accommodation*: Villa Terres Hotel - 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). *Subject to change. May be substituted with similar level accommodation. 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 are provided during the excursions and days off.

Academic Credit:
New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credits to students for attending the two-week session and 9 ECTS credits for attending the three-week session and 12 ECTS credits for the four-week session. Participants who are not interested in academic credits don't need to pay the additional tuition fee..

Contact Information:


Balkan Heritage Field School

7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7

Sofia

1504

Bulgaria

bhfs.admissions@gmail.com

Phone: + 359 877 725 052

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