BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL PROJECT (COURSE) 2015:
THE BIRTH OF EUROPE - EXCAVATIONS OF THE NEOLITHIC SETTLEMENT ILINDENTSI, BULGARIA
Project type: field school (excavations). The variety of activities and team flexibility make this project suitable for both Beginners and Advanced in Field Archaeology.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN EVEN MORE COMPREHENSIVE EXPERIENCE WITH OLD WORLD'S PREHISTORY, PLEASE SEE ALSO THE PREHISTORIC PACK (COMBINING TWO DIFFERENT BALKAN HERITAGE FIELD SCHOOL PROJECTS)!
Site: Prehistoric settlement near Ilindentsi, Southwestern Bulgaria.
Period(s) of occupation: Early and Middle Balkan Neolithic (6000 - 5400 BC)
Project Venue: a guest-house in the village of Ilindentsi (district of Blagoevgrad), located (3 km away from the municipal transport hub Strumyani having a train and bus stop ) in the foothills of the majestic Pirin Mountains (UNESCO World Heritage Site) in Southwestern Bulgaria. The site is within 10 min walking distance.
The nearest air terminals: Sofia (Bulgaria, 150 km) and Thessaloniki (Greece, 170 km) - don't forget checking the low cost flight options! If participants arrive at the Sofia airport, a transfer to the field school venue in Ilindentsi may be arranged by request (Please, specify this in your application form!). Individual or group transfers' price may vary depending on number of passengers from 30 to 100 EUR.
How to get there? Participants who arrange individually their travel will be expected to arrive on the arrival day in Strumyani by 6.30 pm. From there (meeting point is the bus stop in Strumyani) they will be given a free lift to Ilindentsi. Direct bus lines and trains connect the village of Strumyani with the towns of Sandanski (bus and train station, 16 km away from Ilindentsi) and the Bulgarian capital Sofia (150 km away from Ilindentsi). Strumyani may be reached also from Thessaloniki (Greece) by either train (stop in Sandanski) or by bus (stop in Strumyani only upon request).
THE FIELD SCHOOL
Minimum length of stay: 1 session (two weeks)
Minimum age: 18 (16, if the participant is accompanied by an adult family member)
Number of field school places available: Maximum 20
Project language: English
Experience required: No
Special requirements: The project is 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. All participants should bring clothes and cosmetics suitable for hot and sunny weather. All participants are expected to get prepared for the dig by reading (at least) the BHFS handbook chapter about archaeological excavation techniques and methods (the BHFS e-handbook will be sent by e-mail to all registered students before the beginning of the project)! Participants will use the tools and equipment available at the site and are not expected to bring any additional equipment.
THE SITE: In the seventh millenium BC the Balkan Peninsula was a gate through which farming, animal husbandry and generally Neolithisation spread to Europe from Anatolia and the Near East. Central parts of the Balkans were among the most important migration routes during that period. Six Early Neolithic settlements are mapped there, in the Middle Struma River Valley, on the natural road that connects the Eastern Mediterranean with the Central Europe. One of them is the prehistoric site near Ilindentsi. It is located on a high terrace at 250-253 m above sea-level in the Struma River Valley and at the foot of the Pirin Mountains - the third-highest range on the Balkans. The site (with vertical and horizontal stratigraphy) covers a territory of almost three hectares, where the prehistoric cultural layer surprisingly lies immediately under the topsoil humus (10 to 20 cm). During the previous seasons (2004-2009, 2011-2014) archaeologists unearthed there remains of various Early and Middle Neolithic settlement structures and features. Among them are several dwellings: one of them with stone foundations, another one with elaborate floor construction and under-floor drainage systems and a third one completely burnt with well preserved in situ "kitchen-space" including an oven, grain-store, quern-stone and what is more two Neolithic grave-pits: of a baby and a piglet and numerous waste pits. The geomagnetic map of the site created in 2010 shows some anomalies (so called Southern and Northern) that are found very intriguing by the the archaeologists. Excavations in 2011-2014 revealed the reasons for these anomalies: a Neolithic ditch and a palisade in the North and a Neolithic well structure in the South. The culture layer (app. 0,70-1.00 m thick throughout the excavated surface) was so far rich with artifacts such as white- and red on red painted pottery, anthropomorphic figurines, stone and bone tools and esp. jewels (rings, necklace beads, bracelets) all of which are dated to the first half of 6th millenium BC (archeomagnetic studies of fired plaster fragments found in one of the dwellings allow us to date its existence as between 5957 - 5689 BC). In the same burnt house's context were found numerous microlite bores and small beads (some of which were disposed as waste) - an evidence for a small Neolithic workshop producing adornments most probably not only for domestic needs.
Although the possibility for acculturation of indigenious population can not be completely disregarded at this stage, scholars assume that the Neolithic settlement near Ilindentsi was established by groups of people, coming from the earliest and the largest Early Neolithic settlement in the Valley, found near the village of Kovachevo. Thank to the results of a 20-year long Bulgarian-French Excavation Project in Kovachevo there is abundant evidence showing that the first inhabitants of that settlement were people of Anatolian origin. These migration patterns that traced the routes of European Neolithisation had various and complex reasons: increased population, limited environmental resources, climate change etc.
The excavation project at Ilindentsi aims to seek more detailed answers of either general questions regarding Balkan and European Prehistory:
or more site-related problems such as:
THE FIELD SCHOOL: In 2015 the BIRTH OF EUROPE Field School Project (2011-2017) envisions further excavation of the Neolithic dwellings and their surroundings. Two field school sessions are available and each includes the following three modules: fieldwork including excavation of the Neolithic structures, 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 total station, and taking photographs at the site; lectures, workshops and field trainings in Prehistoric and Field Archaeology as well as Finds' processing and Documentation and excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region: the medieval town of Melnik and Rozhen Monastery, if participants attend the first field school session; or the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History and Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site), if participants attend the second field school session. (refer to the Course Program and Agenda!).
The participants who join the two project sessions (1&2) will be able to develop further their skills and competences regarding the field work and finds processing, gained during the first two-week session and to attend a number of extra lectures, workshops (with an emphasis on Neolithic Ceramic Studies) and all the excursions to: the medieval town of Melnik, Rozhen Monastery, the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as the town of Sandanski - a popular SPA resort, keeping archaeological remains from the Late Antiquity.
Optional tour of Kavala, Phillippi and the Aegean coast (Greece) is available for all students in the period between both sessions (27-28 June, 2015).
All participants will receive:
CREDIT HOURS: New Bulgarian University grants 6 credits to students for participation in one project session and 9 credits for participation in two sessions. Transcripts of Records (ToR) are available upon request for an additional tuition fee. For details please contact Admissions Office!
Archaeological context: The Neolithic settlement in Ilindentsi, Bulgaria corresponds chronologically (6000 - 5400 BC) to other Balkan, Anatolian and Near Eastern sites and cultures such as: Karanovo I (Eastern Balkans), Achilleon (Southern Balkans), Hacilar VI-I, Catalhoyuk - Western Tell (Anatolia).
Collaborative Universities & Institutions: The Balkan Heritage Foundation; Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History; New Bulgarian University; Municipality of Strumyani (Bulgaria).
50 astronomical hours of fieldwork per session;
25 astronomical hours of Lectures (L), Workshops (W), Guided Tours (GT) and Field Instructions & Trainings (FIT) during the first session: \
Only for students in the two project sessions (1&2): 25 astronomical hours of Lectures (L), Workshops (W), Guided Tours (GT) and Field Instructions & Trainings (FIT) during the second session:
The guest-house in Ilindentsi
ACCOMMODATION AND FREE TIME
Free time: Guided visits to the medieval town of Melnik, Rozhen Monastery, the Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) as well as the town of Sandanski - a popular SPA resort, keeping archaeological remains from the Late Antiquity are part of the field school program and are covered by the admission fee. The village of Ilindentsi offers great opportunities for mountain hikes in the Pirin Mountains, walks in the Art Center Ilindentsi and wine-tasting of local wines at Kiossev Boutique Wine Cellar.
Extra trips and excursions: The BHFS participants could take advantage of their stay in the Balkans and take part in the optional excursions to:
1. Philippi, Kavala and the Aegean coast (Greece) available only for students in this field school project between the first and the second session on 27-28 June, 2015.
2. Istanbul and Troy (Turkey) on 6-10 June, 2015 available for all BHFS students.
THE ADMISSION FEE
The Admission fee includes educational and fieldwork activities, tools, materials, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance, full-board accommodation (including three meals per day), excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees and administrative costs.
SUPER EARLY BIRD SPECIAL by November 30, 2014 (includes 15% discount off the admission fees)!
Super Early Bird Admission fee for one project session is 1104 EUR / app.1419 USD. SAVE 195 EUR / 260 USD (check current exchange rates!)
Super Early Bird Admission fee for for two project sessions is 2208 EUR/ app.2849 USD. SAVE 260 EUR / 340 USD (check current exchange rates!)
REGULAR Admission Fee after November 30, 2014:
The regular admission fee for one session is 1299 EUR (app.1688 USD. Check current exchange rates!)
The regular admission fee for two project sessions is 2468 EUR / app. 3208 USD (including 5% discount for participation in the two project sessions!). Check current exchange rates!)
DISCOUNTS OFF THE REGULAR ADMISSION FEE:
* 5% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 10% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 12% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee available in case of:
* 15% DISCOUNT OFF the regular admission fee is available in case of:
NOTE, 5% OF EVERY ADMISSION FEE FOR THIS PROJECT DIRECTLY SUPPORTS THE BALKAN HERITAGE PROTECTION FUND'S ACTIVITIES!