Topic ID #30256 - posted 11/25/2013 3:57 AM

Topola – the Biggest Biritual Necropolis in South Eastern Europe


Period(s) of Occupation:
Early Medieval, the end of the Migration Period, (7th – 9nd century AD).

Location: Balchik, Dobrich, Bulgaria

Session Dates: Field School Session 1: 2 August - 16 August, 2014 & Field School Session 2: 17 August - 31 August, 2014


Affiliation: The Balkan Heritage Foundation, Topola Excavation Team (National Archaeological Institute with Museum at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) and New Bulgarian University (Bulgaria).

Project Description

The Early Medieval necropolis (end of 7th – mid. 9th century AD) near the village of Topola is located on the Northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast on a picturesque steppe plateau not far from the coastline. The number of 600 excavated graves makes it the biggest biritual (with inhumation and cremation burials) necropolis in South Eastern Europe. The excavations of the necropolis and of the adjacent settlement are a major source of information for the history and the culture of the Early Medieval Bulgarian state (established in the 7th century AD): the initial conglomerate of Bulgars (Protobulgarians), Slavic tribes and indigenious East Roman population ruled by the Bulgar khagans emerged in the 9th and the 10th century AD into the first empire in Eastern Europe.

The numerous artifacts from the graves - pottery, jewels, weapons, coins, harness, etc. shed light on the complex demographic and cultural interrelations in the Early Medieval period among the Bulgars and Slavic tribes, the nomads of the East European Steppes, the Byzantine empire and the Arab Caliphate. The anthropological analyses of the bones from both the inhumation and cremation graves enlight the origin of the Protobulgarians and the formation of the Bulgarian medieval people. The artificial cranial deformation of many individuals, the burial rituals, the commemorative celebrations and taphonomic changes, the grave goods as animals (sheep, lambs), vessels for liquids and food, placement of stones in the graves, the position and direction of the dead, etc. give important information about the believes, religion and the traditions of the population.The necropolis and the nearby settlement have been excavated for a decade in the 1980’s. In 2013 the excavations of the necropolis were resumed. The main goal of the project is to collect more data before publication of this important site. The project sessions available in 2014 include the following three modules: 1. fieldwork including excavation of inhumation and cremation graves, maintaining a field journal on a daily basis, filling context sheets and labels, drawing graves and skeletons, drawing of ground plans and cross-sections, 3D positioning of finds and contexts, taking photographs, etc; 2.lectures on Early Medieval Archaeology and History, with focus on the Late Migration Period and Physical Anthropology;  3. workshops on finds' processing and documentation (cleaning, measuring, describing, analyzing of human bones; cleaning, drawing, sorting of pottery); 4. excursions to various cultural and archaeological sites in the region such as the the Palace with Botanical Garden in Balchik, Varna historical city centre, Varna Museum of Archaeology, the Roman Thermae of Varna, etc. The participants who join either the three-week session (3) or 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 and an excursion to the impressive peninsular fortress Kaliakra.

The instructions, lectures and supervision of work will be provided by professional archaeologists, physical anthropologists and conservators. All participants will receive the BHFS Certificate specifying fieldwork hours, educational modules taught, and sites visited.

Room and Board Arrangements

Accommodation will be in a hotel (rooms with two to three beds, bathrooms with WC and shower, equipped with air-conditioning, TV and Wi-Fi) in the coastal town of Balchik. The hotel has a swimming pool and nice view to the sea and the picturesque town’s harbour. Three meals per day are covered by the admission fee. Requests for vegetarian food are accepted. Single rooms are limited but available upon request for an additional fee.

Cost: Before January 31st, 2014 - 1169 EUR (app.1559 USD) / 2338 EUR (app.3159 USD) for participation in one / two project sessions. After January 31st, 2014 - 1299 EUR (app.1719 USD) or 2468 EUR (app. 3319 USD) for one / two project sessions.

Transcripts are available upon request for an additional tuition fee starting from 270 EUR (app. 350 USD)!

Contact Information
Ms. Anna Parmakova - Admission Office


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