Topic ID #23982 - posted 10/16/2012 2:44 AM




Location: Ilindentsi, Strumyani, Bulgaria, Bulgaria

Season Dates: June 15, 2013 - July 14, 2013
Session Dates: Session 1: 15 - 29 June, 2013 Session 2: 30 June - 14 July, 2013


Affiliation: Balkan Heritage Field School/Foundation, Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria), Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology, Nanterre (France)

Project Description

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. At this site the prehistoric cultural layer lies immediately (10 to 20 cm) under the topsoil humus, which has significantly facilitated the excavation process. During the previous seasons at the site (2004-2009, 2011-2012) archaeologists unearthed mainly Early Neolithic settlement structures and features (remains of dwellings with specific floor construction and under-floor drainage systems and one burnt dwelling with well preserved in situ "kitchen-space" including an oven, grain-store and quern-stone). The culture layer (app. 0,70-1.00 m thick throughout the excavated surface) was rich with artifacts such as white on red painted pottery, anthropomorphic clay figurines, stone and bone tools and jewels all of which are dated to the first half of 6th millenium BC. In 2010 a geomagnetic survey of the site was performed and a geomagnetic map of the site was created. In consequence the excavated area was extended in 2011 and 2012 to search for the reasons for geomagnetic anomalies on the map. In one of these recent dig trenches beside the structures many Middle Neolithic (5600-5400 BC) artifacts were found which is the first evidence of horizontal stratigraphy at the site.

Scholars assume that the 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 the following questions, which are important for Balkan and European Prehistory:

  • who were the first European farmers?
  • what made them migrate to Europe?
  • did they find indigenous populations in the Balkans?
  • how did their societies function and develop?
  • how did their everyday life look like?
  • did they keep connections with their Anatolian homeland?
The BIRTH OF EUROPE 2013 Project envisions further excavation of the Neolithic structures and their surroundings. Two field school sessions are available in 2013, and each includes following three modules: fieldwork including 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 level device, 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 including Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History, the medieval town of Melnik and Rila Monastery (UNESCO World Heritage Site) (refer to the Course description and Field School agenda!).
Participants who join the two project sessions are going to have a different schedule during the second session, which includes:
  1. (at the weekends) Visits of the towns of Blagoevgrad and Sandanski (a popular Bulgarian SPA resort)
  2. (in the period between both sessions) Optional visit to Kavala, Phillippi and the Aegean coast (Greece);
  3. (in the afternoons) Extra lab work related to the finds processing and documentation and special workshops for:
    • Archaeological Documentation and Illustration of Neolithic Pottery;
    • Ceramic studies - by famous French specialist Dr. Laure Salanova.

    All participants will receive:

    • Project handbook (in PDF version by e-mail and a hard copy on arrival);
    • Balkan Heritage Field School Certificate specifying the fieldwork hours, educational modules, and sites visited.

    New Bulgarian University grants 6 credits to students for participation in one project session and 9 credits for participation in two sessions. Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee!

    Room and Board Arrangements

    In rooms with two to four beds (air-conditioning, TV, bathrooms with shower and WC) in the Art Center Ilindentsi. There is also a washing machine available. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, bedclothes or towels. The Art Center consists of: accommodation facilities, kitchen, dining hall, conference room, art gallery, garden and sculpture park. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted!

    Cost: Admission Fee - €1,249 (app. $1,590) for 1 project session including all educational and fieldwork activities, travel to and from the fieldwork venues, full-board accommodation, administrative costs, Project Handbook, issue of Certificate of Attendance and excursions/sightseeing tours/entrance fees. Discounts off the admission fee are available in case of: 1) AIA membership; 2) Participation in more than 1 BH project or project session in 2013; 3) Small Groups (two or three people, who participate in a BH project in 2013); 4) Larger Groups (four or more people, who participate in a BH project in 2013).

    Academic Credit: The New Bulgarian University grants to students 6 credits for participation in 1 project session, and 9 credits for participation in 2 sessions. Transcript is available upon request for an additional tuition fee.

    Contact Information
    Ms, Anna Parmakova
    Admission Office
    Balkan Heritage Field School


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