Tell Yunatsite Excavations – Seeking Europe’s First Civilization – 2019 (Balkan Heritage/Institute for Field Research)

Location: Pazardzhik, BG

Season: July 6, 2019 to August 3, 2019

Session Dates: Session 1: 6 - 20 July; Session 2: 20 July - 3 August; Session 3: 6 July - 3 August

Application Deadline: June 1, 2019

Deadline Type: Exact date


Discount for AIA members: 5% discount off the regular admission fee (only for students registered through BHFS)

Program Type:
Field school, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

Balkan Heritage Foundation (Bulgaria), Institute for Field Research (USA), Tell Yunatsite Excavation Team (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences), Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, New Bulgarian University

Project Director:
Associate Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Dig co-director; Asst. Prof. Kamen Boyadzhiev (PhD in Archaeology), Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Dig co-director and field school coordinator.

Project Description:

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 2019, 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: 1.fieldwork including 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; 2) lectures, workshops and field training in prehistoric (with emphasize on Neolithic, Chacolithic, prehistoric warfare and ceramics), and field archaeology, finds processing and documentation and 3) excursions to the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History on 9 July, 2019; the ancient town of Plovdiv including the Archaeological Museum, Old Town Quarter and major Roman monuments on 13 July, 2019; and Stara Zagora including the Regional Museum of History, Roman monuments and the Museum of Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic (5600 BCE) dwellings on 27 July, 2019 as well as the optional tour of Sofia, Bulgaria on 20 July, 2019.   


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

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

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

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

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

Major field school topics/activities: Archaeology of the the Copper Age and Europe's first civilization; Warfare in Prehistory; Archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation (with regard to the specifics of the tell's excavation); 3d intra-site modelling and documentation and GIS spatial analysis in archaeology; Documentation of prehistoric (Copper and Bronze age) weapons, tools and shards; 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 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.The average summer temperatures in the area are 25-38 C or higher.

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 2. 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).    Meals: Three meals (organic Bulgarian homemade food) per day are covered by the admission fee. During the workdays, breakfasts, lunches and dinners usually take place at the site's premises. 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.   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) = 4210 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 1049 / 1949 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) 6/12 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 For students at universities/ colleges outside Europe it is included in the IFR admission fee. 2) For students at universities/ colleges in Europe 6/9 ECTS credit units cost 300 / 450 EUR..

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)

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.