Romans in Illyricum – Doclea Excavations 2019 (Balkan Heritage Field School)

Location: Podgorica, ME

Season: May 22, 2019 to June 19, 2019

Session Dates: Session 1: 22 May - 5 June Session 2: 5 - 19 June Session 3: 22 May - 19 June

Application Deadline: April 15, 2019

Deadline Type: Rolling


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

Program Type:
Field school, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Balkan Heritage Foundation and and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria), Museums and Galleries of Podgorica and Municipality of Podgorica (Montenegro)

Project Director:
Research and field school team: Dr. Robyn Le Blanc, UNCG (USA); Miloš Živanović, archaeologist, MA, Center for Conservation and Archaeology of Montenegro; Alexander Manev, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, Balkan Heritage Foundation (Bulgaria); Ivana Živanović, archaeologist, MA (Serbia); Džuro Priblović, archaeologist, MA (Montenegro); Matthew Schueller, archaeologist, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (USA) and Dragan Radović, museum curator, MA, Museums and Galleries of Podgorica (Montenegro).

Project Description:


The Roman city of Doclea is an important urban center of the eastern Adriatic Roman province of Dalmatia (1st – 3rd c. CE), the capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (3rd – 5th c. CE) and the most significant ancient site in Montenegro. It is 4 km (2,5 mi) away from downtown Podgotica, the Montenegrin capital city. In Roman times the city was situated near but aside from the crossroad of several main roads and thus isn’t mentioned by the most important Roman itineraries – Tabula Pointingeriana and Itinerarium Antonini. The Romans chose to build Doclea on the plateau bordered on three sides by the Zeta, Moraca and Siralija Rivers considering its strategic position.

The foundation of the city is related to the Roman effort to urbanize the newly established province of Dalmatia in the beginning of the 1st c. CE. Doclea was named after the Illyrian tribe Docleati on which territory it was built. It soon turns into an important trading center and receives the status of municipium during the Flavian Age along with other Dalmatian cities. Romans enforced the city’s protection through mighty 2.5 m – thick walls, towers, battlements and fortified bridges across the rivers. The city is built according to the classical urban grid plan. The East-West Via Principalis features the most important city buildings which are still preserved today: the triumphal arch dedicated to Emperor Gallienus, the temple & the statue of Roma, the temple of Diana, a palace, as well as the spacious and richly decorated city baths. The forum design does not deviate from the standard Roman forums at the time: square-shaped with a colonnaded porticoes that run the length of the space. Why the basilica on the forum was dedicated to the 15 y/o boy Flavius Frintanus Balbinus, whose gilded statue decorated the forum is still unknown. The city flourishes as a capital city of the Late Roman province of Praevalitana (3rd – 5th c. CE). The Early Christians churches and the large episcopal basilica dated to this period are located in the eastern urban and suburban areas both intra and extra murum. The bishop of Doclea Evandros is mentioned among the participants of the 4th Ecumenical Council held in Halkidon 451.

The city’s urban life declines after the Ostrogoths sacked Doclea in 490 CE. It was devastated further during the earthquake of 518 CE. It never restores its glory and during the following turbulent period of Avar and Slavic invasions, the city is finally abandoned. Byzantine authors in the later periods often refer to Doclea as the birthplace of Diocletian and call it Dioclea which confused a lot of researchers by the mid-twentieth century.

The archaeological site of Doclea has attracted the attention of researchers since the 19th century. The first archaeological excavations took place in 1890 – 1892 directed by the Russian researcher Pavle Rovinski by the order of king Nikola I of Montenegro. In 1913, Piero Sticotti published the book “Roman town Doclea in Montenegro”, which is so far the only monograph of the archaeological site. In the 1960s the necropoli of Doclea were excavated by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. After that, only small-scale excavation projects have been conducted at various sectors of the site.


    This field school is an amazing opportunity to:

    • dig at a Roman city in Montenegro
    • learn about the Roman colonization & urbanization of the Illyrian lands and the development of Doclea from a Roman colony to one of the richest cities of the eastern Adriatic region
    • practice all basic excavation and recording techniques on the field
    • develop skills in finds processing with focus on pottery, glass & coins 
    • expand knowledge on Roman numismatics and trade
    • visit significant archaeological and historic sites, including UNESCO world heritage sites in Montenegro and Croatia.


    The field school excavations in 2019 will continue unearthing the rooms and the mosaic found in 2018 belonging to a Roman residential building east of the Temple of of Jupiter, Junona and Minerva (2nd c. CE). 

    Period(s) of Occupation: Roman (1st- 4th c. CE)

    The Romans in Illyricum project enables participants to take part in an ongoing Roman dig, to learn about the Roman conquest, archaeology and civilization of the Eastern Adriatic, and to visit the beautiful Mediterranean towns & coast of Montenegro and Croatia, including Kotor and Dubrovnik (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Academic credits are available for students through NBU, Bulgaria.

    Project Size: 1-24 participants

    Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Two weeks

    Minimum Age: 18

    Experience Required: None

    Room and Board Arrangements:
    Accommodation: The participants will be accommodated in the comfortable Montenegro Hostel located in the historic neighborhood of Podgorica with shared dorm rooms and bathrooms, beautiful garden and roof terrace. There is a/c and wi-fi.  Clothes washing service is available for a small fee. From there participants will be given a free lift to and from the archaeological site on daily basis.     Participants who prefer to stay in single rooms or at different type of accommodation can secure their own lodgings in Podgorica. They will receive a deduction in the admission fee of 150 EUR for 2 weeks and 300 EUR for 4 weeks. They must meet at Montenegro Hostel for the daily pick-ups. In case of a small number of (less than 5) registrations, participants will be accommodated together with the team members in the air-conditioned cabin at the archaeological base amidst the ancient ruins of Doclea, in rooms with two to three beds. The cabin has 2 shared bathrooms with showers and WC. Wi-Fi and a washing machine are available there for free.     Accommodation before and after the project is possible only at the Montenegro Hostel in Podgorica.    Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Meals usually take place at the site's premises & nearby taverns, except the brown-bag lunches (during the excursions). Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Participants have to pay extra for any meals and beverages, services or products outside the project package.   Cost: Starting at 1149 EUR (approx. 1344USD) and covers all educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, full-board accommodation, administrative costs, issue of Certificate of Attendance and excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees (except the optional tour of Dubrovnik).

    Academic Credit:
    New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credit units to students for attending any of two-week sessions (1 and 2) and 9 ECTS credits for attending the four-week session (3). Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. credits offered by New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria. Tuition is For EU students - 300 / 450 EUR, for all other international students - 450 / 675 EUR for six / nine ECTS credit units. Participants who don't need academic credits, are not expected to pay the tuition fee..

    Contact Information:

    Balkan Heritage Foundation

    7 Tulovo St., Floor 5





    Phone: + 359 877 725 052

    support Us

    The AIA is North America's largest and oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to archaeology. The Institute advances awareness, education, fieldwork, preservation, publication, and research of archaeological sites and cultural heritage throughout the world. Your contribution makes a difference.