Workshop for Conservation of Roman Mosaics 2020 (Balkan Heritage / Institute for Field Research)

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 cancelled fieldwork for 2020 and the information below may not reflect that.

This listing expired on December 31, 2020. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: R1102, North Macedonia

Season: June 6, 2020 to June 26, 2020

Session Dates: Session 1: 6 - 19 June; Session 2: 6 - 26 June

Application Deadline: April 10, 2020

Deadline Type: Rolling


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

Program Type:
Field School, Volunteer

RPA Certified:

National Institution Stobi, R. of North Macedonia; Balkan Heritage Foundation; Institute for Field Research (IFR) and New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria;

Project Director:
Chief conservator: Dr Krassimira Frangova (Assoc. Prof. at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation); Field School coordinator: Dr Angela Pencheva (Balkan Heritage Foundation & Field School Program Manager)

Project Description:

n 2020, the field school project will again be hosted by the National Institution Stobi, R. of North Macedonia at the Roman city of Stobi (today an archaeological park). It provides an unique opportunity for students and volunteers to gain comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experience in conservation of authentic  Roman and Late Roman Mosaic floors from the ancient city of Stobi. 

During the workshop participants will be guided through the consequent stages of study, conservation and documentation as well as the history and technology of Roman and Late Roman mosaics.


The project includes three modules: practical work in documentation and conservation of mosaics; lectures on their history and conservation as well as excursions to the town of Bitola, the archaeological site of Heraclea LyncestisOhrid and Ohrid lake (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the ancient Macedonian capitals in Pella and Vergina (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Greece.


Why Stobi? The first historic records to mention Stobi are by the Roman historian Titus Livy (ca. 197 BCE). According to Livy, Stobi became an important center for salt trading after the Roman conquests of Macedonia and the establishment of Pax Romana. In 69 CE, Emperor Vespasian granted Stobi the rank of municipium and the right to mint its own coins. Stobi was not only an important salt trading center but also strategically located at the crossroads of the ancient roads that ran along the two rivers Axios and Erigon. The first road connected the North and the South of the Balkans as it does today, while the second to the southwest connected Stobi with Via Egnatia near Heraclea Lyncestis and to the northeast it continued to Serdica.

This commercial and strategic position brought Stobi long-term prosperity, especially in the period between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. Several monumental buildings in the city are dated to this period: the Theatre, the first City Wall, Porta Heraclea, Public Building with Arches (most likely the Stobi library), Casa Romana, the Synagogue, as well as the water supply system. In 267 CE the city suffered Goths and Herules raids. At the end of the 3rd century Stobi was devastated by an earthquake, later rebuilt, but following a different urban plan. Most of the ruins visible today belong to buildings dated to this period.

In the 4th century CE, Stobi became an important Christian center and the seat of powerful bishops. In the 5th– 6th centuries, Stobi was the capital city of the Roman province Macedonia Secunda, but suffered from the raids of Huns, Ostrogoths, Avars and Slavs. The constant threat of barbarian raids, as well as certain climatic changes lead to the gradual abandonment of the city in the second half of the 6th century CE. Some records mention a small Slav community that settled and lived there in later centuries. The last historical reference regarding Stobi describes the victory of the Byzantine troops over Stobi’s local militia during the 11th century CE.


Approximately 1560 square meters of the excavated territory of the ancient city of Stobi are covered either entirely or partly in preserved mosaics, dated mostly between the 2nd and 6th century CE. Most of them were discovered in the public or residential Roman and Late Roman buildings at the site: the Episcopal Basilica, the Extramural Basilica, the Theodosian Palace, the Synagogue II, the “Casino”, the House of Peristeria and the House of Polycharmos. Variations of geometric, floral and animal motifs are represented in the most popular ancient mosaic techniques: opus tesselatum, opus sectile as well as opus barbaricum and opus vermiculatum.
The first preventive conservation of a part of the mosaics in Stobi started in the 1930s and continued sporadically in the following decades. Today, many of the mosaics require urgent conservation and preservation due to damage caused by the weather and lack of proper and consistent maintenance over the past decades. In 2009, NI Stobi started a long-term program for complete conservation and exhibition of the mosaics at Stobi.

A project for conservation of the baptisterium of the Episcopal Basilica funded by The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Heritage Preservation was successfully finalized in 2018.

In 2018-2019 the conservation activities during the workshop were focused on the in situ preserved mosaic floor in Room 1 of the House of Parthenius. The first conservation treatment of this mosaic was performed in the 1930’s and until 2017 the mosaic was covered with sand. The current conservation treatment includes mechanical cleaning, removal of the old cement fills of the mosaic’s lacunae and its replacement with mortar, stabilization of the tesserae and its foundation. The same mosaic will be in the focus of the workshop in 2020. as well as some previously lifted fragments from the Episcopal basilica. 

Each Balkan Heritage Workshop contributes to this program and facilitates significantly the conservation of at least one of the endangered mosaics!

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 can apply through the Balkan Heritage Field School. Click here to apply.

Period(s) of Occupation: Roman, Late Roman/Early Byzantine (2nd century BCE - 6th century CE).

Major field school topics/activities: The workshop will enable participants to gain comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experience in both Roman and Late Roman mosaic conservation. The participants are going to be involved in ongoing conservation project and will work with authentic mosaics from the ancient city of Stobi. Lectures on history and technology of Roman and Late Roman mosaics, as well as special tours of significant sites with ancient mosaics: Bitola and Ohrid (R. of North Macedonia) and the ancient Macedonian capitals Pella and Aigai/Vergina (Greece). 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: No. The variety of activities and team flexibility make this project suitable for both beginners and advanced (either volunteers or students) in conservation.

Room and Board Arrangements:
Accommodation: in recently renovated air-conditioned cabins at the archaeological site next to the ancient ruins of Stobi, in rooms with two to three beds. Each cabin has 4 bedrooms + living room, 2 bathrooms with showers and WC. Washing machine and Wi-Fi are available for free. There are outdoor and indoor dining and social spaces. Meals: Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. They usually take place (except the lunch packages during the excursions) at the site's dining room or outdoors next to it. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Specialized diets (vegan, kosher, gluten-free etc.) are difficult to maintain in this location.

Academic Credit:
Students who study outside Europe wishing to obtain academic credits must apply to the BHF-IFR Program for the Balkans and enroll through the Institute for Field Research (IFR), USA. They will be awarded 4 semester credit units (equivalent to 6 quarter units) through Connecticut College and will receive a letter grade. Students who study in Europe (EU, EEA, CH, Russian Federation and countries from the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus): New Bulgarian University grants 9 ECTS credits to students for attending the field school. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee.

Contact Information:

Balkan Heritage Field School / Institute for Field Research

7 Tulovo St., Floor 5, Apt.7 / 2999 Overland Ave. #103

Sofia / Los Angeles

1504 / 90064

Bulgaria / United States

Phone: + 359 877 725 052

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