Tell Yunatsite Excavations – Seeking Europe’s First Civilization – 2022 (Balkan Heritage Field School)

COVID-19 NOTICE: Please be sure to reach out to the project contact to find out the status of their upcoming season. Many projects have altered fieldwork plans and the information below may not reflect that.

Location: Pazardzhik, BG

Season: July 9, 2022 to August 6, 2022

Session Dates: Session 1: 09 July - 23 July, 2022 Session 2: 23 July - 6 August, 2022 Session 3: 09 July - 6 August, 2022

Application Deadline: May 22, 2022

Deadline Type: Rolling


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

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Tell Yunatsite Excavation Team from the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum; Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History; New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria);

Project Director:
Dig co-directors: Associate Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Asst. Prof. Kamen Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

Project Description:

The Site and the Excavation Project

During the 7th and 6th millennia BCE, the Balkan Peninsula was a gateway through which farming, animal husbandry and Neolithization spread from Anatolia and the Near East to Europe. This new population gradually settled down and got familiar with the surrounding region, suitable agricultural areas, raw sources and so on. In the 6th millennium BCE their economy, social organization, trade and cultural contacts evolved, to reach their peak in the 5th millennium BCE. In the beginning of the 5th millennium, the earliest metallurgy in European and global prehistory (the processing of copper and soon after, gold) appeared in the Balkans. Thus, this period is known as the Copper age, Chalcolithic, Eneolithic or Final Neolithic.

The continuative inhabitance of the same suitable places during these millennia led to the formation of a settlement phenomenon, characteristic of the Near Eastern and Balkan prehistory – the multilayered tell-sites.

Tell Yunatsite is located near the modern village of Yunatsite in Southern Bulgaria. It is among the biggest tells in Europe with a diameter of approximately 110 m/360 ft and a height of 12 m/39 ft above the modern surface. Tell Yunatsite was first excavated in 1939 by the Bulgarian archaeologist Vasil Mikov. In 1976, regular excavations were restarted and have continued on an annual basis. Subsequently, research at Tell Yunatsite has grown into an important research program under the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. At times, Greek and Soviet archaeologists have joined the research at the site and today this is an international research effort directed by Bulgarian scholars. The field school will be held for a seventh year and is a joint cooperation between the Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF), the Regional Museum of History in Pazardzhik, the Tell Yunatsite Excavation Team from the National  Archaeological Institute with Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Institute for Field Research.

The Field School

The aim of the project is to provide participants with a theoretical background on the development of Neolithic cultures in Southeastern Europe with a focus on Final Neolithic/Chalcolithic, Europe’s first civilization, and with practical experience in excavating a complex prehistoric tell-site.

This field school provides a unique glimpse into the rise and fall of arguably the earliest European civilization. In 2022, field school students will take part in further excavation of the burned Final Neolithic/Chalcolithic layer buildings. Faculty and students will work together and explore why and how did one of the earliest proto urban centers in Europe emerge in the beginning of the 5th millennium BCE, and what are the reasons that caused its collapse 800 years later.


The archaeological field school takes place at the Tell Yunatsite lowest excavated layer, which corresponds to the time of Europe’s first prehistoric civilization in the 5th millennium BCE.

Excavations in the last years shed new light on the stratigraphy and development of the Chalcolithic/Final Neolithic and brought new interesting discoveries. Among them are a golden bead and a golden amulet, which are among the earliest golden artifacts in the world.

There are three field school sessions (two consecutive two-week sessions and one four-week session) available. Each of them covers the following three modules:

  • Fieldwork includes excavation of the Final Neolithic/Chalcolithic layers and structures, which includes practicing basic excavation techniques as well as screening, sifting and flotation; the development of archaeological field documentation by 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 dumpy level, as well as taking photographs at the site;
  • Lectures, workshops and field training in prehistoric (with emphasis on Neolithic, Chalcolithic, prehistoric warfare and ceramics), and field archaeology, finds processing and documentation
  • Excursions to the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History; the ancient town of Plovdiv including the Archaeological Museum, Old Town Quarter and major Roman monuments; and Stara Zagoraincluding the Regional Museum of History, Roman monuments and the Museum of Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic (5600 BCE) dwellings, as well as the optional tour of Sofia, Bulgaria

Period(s) of Occupation: Final Neolithic / Chalcolithic, Early Bronze Age, Iron Age, Antiquity and Middle Ages.

Major field school topics/activities: Archaeology of Neolithic and Chalcolithic Europe; Excavations of the Final Neolithic/ Chalcolithic (4900 – 4100 BCE) strata of Tell Yunatsite; Prehistoric warfare and ceramics; Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation, processing of finds and samples; Excursions to significant heritage sites in Bulgaria.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Two weeks

Minimum Age: 18

Experience Required: No previous experience is required for applicants for Session 1 and/or 3. However, applicants for Session 2 are expected to have at least two weeks of archaeological field experience prior to their participation in this session. A valid COVID-19 certificate is required.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Accommodation*: In comfortable rooms with two to three beds (bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, a/c and free Wi-Fi) at the Hotel Primavera. The hotel is located in the central pedestrian and shopping area of Pazardzhik, very close to everything that the town can offer to tourists (shops, pharmacies, banks, markets, taverns, restaurants, bars, hospitals, cafes, post offices, tourist attractions, parks etc.). There is cheap laundry service available at the archaeological site. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bed linens or towels. Single rooms are available upon request for the supplement of 110 EUR per week. Staying an extra day at the hotel costs 25 EUR (per night per person). *Subject to change. May be substituted with similar level accommodation. Meals: Three meals (organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the reimbursement payment. During the workdays, all meals usually take place at the site. The meals during the weekends (except the brown-bag lunches during the excursions) take place at the hotel’s restaurant. This field school can accommodate vegetarians, vegans, and individuals with lactose intolerance. Kosher and gluten-free diets are impossible to accommodate in this location. Participants must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products.

Academic Credit:
New Bulgarian University grants 6 ECTS credits 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.

Contact Information:

Balkan Heritage Foundation

7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7





Phone: + 359 898681366

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