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IMPORTANT! Concerning Coronavirus disease (COVID 19).

In order to protect our participants and team and to comply with the requirement of 15 days quarantine in 2021, all offered field schools and workshops are situated high in the mountain in isolated, environmentally friendly places.

The groups are with a limited number of participants - 5 to 6 persons at most. All of them will not have other contacts for all period of stay. The planned excursions and other trips in the weekends will be held only in case of change the situation with COVID 19.

The members of the team will undergo voluntary isolation and quarantine 15 days before the start of the program. Everyone will take the required tests.

In addition, we will use only homemade food, produced in place - vegetables from local gardens, milk and cheese from local producers, homemade bread, etc. The places we use are located in protected area under the regalement of "Natura 2000" - an European network of strictly protected nature reserves.

BATULYA Archaeological Fieldschool

TYPE: Archaeological Field School
PERIOD: Late Roman Ages 4th - 6th c. AD
DATES: 4 July - 17 July & 18 July - 31 July, 2021
PARTICIPATION FEE: 973 for two weeks

General information

The archaeological excavations will be carried out at Batulya fortress - a Byzantine stronghold, situated in Stara planina (Old Mountain). This is a relatively new archaeological site - the archaeological excavations here started in 2017. The fortress is registered for the first time in the 80s but never has been studied. Nowadays on the terrain can be seen the remains of an old fortification wall as well as some of the buildings inside of the stronghold. The protective walls have a thickness of 1,5 meters and are preserved along about 100 meters at the Northern part of the fortification. The dimensions of the fortified area are about 1500 sq.m. The walls fence an area with a rectangular layout. At the Eastern part of the terrain are traced ruins of a square tower.

The fortress is situated not far from the main city of Bulgaria - Sofia. It is built on a mountain hill with an altitude of 650 meters, guarding the defile of the River Batulyiska. In the ancient times here passed the road connecting the South part of the Balkans with the Danube plain. It is a very important passage because it crosses dangerous lands through the mountains. The fortress near Batulya is one of the important points along this road which functions were to protect the commercial ties between North and South and to ensure the safe passage of troops crossing the mountains.

Nowadays the fortress is easily accessible due to its location in the vicinity of the modern village. At the foot of the hill at the beginning of the last century is built a small monastery. It was financed by the Bulgarian king Ferdinand the First who appreciated the beauty of this place and wished to turn it into a desired destination for residents of Sofia. The monastery is a combination of spiritual and secular buildings. The church is devoted to St. Nicholas (a much-honored saint in Iskar Gorge) but the monastery building is designed for visitors and never has been used for spiritual purposes. In the Eastern part of that building, a metal door leads directly to the fortress and its ancient ruins are part of the monastery complex.

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

Useful to know

Emperor Constantine the Great (306–337)

Byzantine period in Balkans begins with the split of the Roman Empire into two parts - Western and Eastern. The Western Roman Empire fell in 476 AD but the Eastern survived till 1453 when is conquered by the Ottomans.

"Byzantium" is an artificial concept given by the scientists. It represents the Eastern Roman Empire named by the main city - Byzantion. The residents of the empire called themselves "Romani" (Romans) as successors of the Great Roman Empire.

In 330 AD Constantine the Great transferred the capital of the Roman Empire from Rome to Byzantium and the city took his name - Konstantinoupolis ("city of Constantine", Constantinople). During the 4th–13th centuries Constantinople became the largest and wealthiest city in Europe and also a center of culture and education of the Mediterranean basin.

Byzantium is a Christian Empire! Constantine the Great became the first Roman Emperor who adopted Christianity in 313 AD.

Historical context

Batulya archaeological field school

The Iskar Gorge, famous with its magnificent nature, with Lakatin Rocks, Cherepish Monastery and the scenic views, changing one after another along the railway line, in fact has been never studied from historical point of view. An interesting fact is that the last and most detailed description of the historical monuments along the Iskar River was made more than 150 years ago by the famous Austrian geographer, ethnographer, and archaeologist Felix Kanitz. In 1871 he described the northern part of the Iskar Gorge from Mezdra to Lakatnik, where he localized eight castles. According to him, "This large number of castles is one more proof of the great strategic importance given by the Romans to the road through the Iskar Gorge. This road has connected Thessaloniki with Dyrrachium through Stobi, Serdica, and Oescus with Trajan's Dacia."

Unfortunately, this information remains the first and the last, related to the ancient history of the region. Despite its close proximity to the main city Sofia, the Iskar River, and its adjacent areas never attract the attention of scientists. However, the numerous castles, located in the most picturesque places in the gorge are very interesting for every visitor or tourist. The questions "What these remains are?", "Who were their creators?" "What was their destiny?" are not only curious, but they are also part of an unspoken story to be written.

Batulya archaeological field school

In 2016 initiated by Svoge municipality starts for the first time the systemic description and identification of the cultural and historical monuments on its territory. This project aims not only to enrich the tourist map of the region but also to "put together" the known (and unknown) about the history, culture, and heritage of the Iskar Gorge. Within a year and a half, a team of specialists managed to describe, interpret and localize 19 churches, 23 sanctuaries, 6 Thracian mound necropolises, and 11 fortresses. Thus, the history of the region, for which only three villages had been known in the time of Felix Kanitz, began slowly to emerge from the past.

The mountains around the Iskar River, now hospitable and densely populated, have been in the past an insurmountable border between the Danube and the Thracian Plain. Even at the end of the nineteenth century, there hasn't been a road to passing by, and Kanitz described his journey as follows: „Indeed, riding at some points was too tense because the road was leading through paths that could only be walked on foot. They passed along deep abysses in which the bones of fallen animals and humans were visible.“. In ancient times, the difficult to inhabit area has predetermined the character of local culture, which is unique, partly isolated but also protected. These places were hardly reached by enemies, and the wars, migrations of entire peoples, and ethnic clashes have remained far to the north or south.

It is no coincidence that according to the archaeological data, the earliest settlement in the region refers to the Thracian times. The name "Thracians" (Latin: Thraci) means "wild", "harsh" people. Their style of life is characterized briefly and accurately by the father of history Herodotus (484 BC - 425 BC): "To be out of work, they think it is wonderful, to work the land - humiliating, but to live by war and robbery - the best." The results of the documentation of the archaeological sites show that a large amount of Thracian burial monuments (mounds) are located on the territory of the municipality of Svoge. Probably some of the strongholds lying high in the mountain also belong to this period. Since these monuments are registered for the first time and have never been studied, it is difficult to say which specific Thracian tribes inhabited the area and at to what time the tombs belong. According to Thucydides (460 BC - 395 BC) the region of Serdica lived "Treres and Tilataei". In 29 BC in Sofia region are mentioned "Serdi". Between the Danube, the Iskar River, and the Old Mountains inhabited "Triballi".

What distinguishes the area of Svoge, however, is the extremely large quantity of these monuments, which can be compared neither to the Sofia field nor to the area north of the mountain. The fact that the mountain was hardly accessible and therefore - protected, allowed the intensive development of a unique and protected from external interference culture. And the most interesting - this culture has somehow reached to this day. This is evidenced by the numerous votives (crosses) placed exactly on the ancient Thracian mounds. Assuming that the mounds were built in the fifth or fourth century BC, the memory of the "sacred places" has been passed down through generations for 2500 years! Until now. This means not only a deep and extremely ancient folk memory but also a genetic connection with the ancestors of the people who still live in these places.

Batulya archaeological field school

The area around the Iskar River seems to be unaffected by the bloody events that led to the military annexation and the accession of the Thracian lands to the powerful Roman Empire. In 29 BC the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus, under whose command were five legions and auxiliary troops (or about 30,000 soldiers), started a war against the Triballi in the north. Upon their retirement the Roman troops suffer heavy losses, passing through the lands of the Serdi (present-day Sofia field) and the Maedi (in Struma valley). The ancient authors do not specify the exact route of Roman troops, but it is more likely they had followed the Timok valley, not the inaccessible and dangerous mountain passes.

However, in 27 BC the Romans took the main city of the Serdi - today's Sofia, and in 15 BC was founded the Roman province of Moesia (today's northern Bulgaria). The mountainous area around the Iskar River became a geographical part of the Roman Empire. Still, there is no evidence of the presence of Roman troops or military parts during this early period (1st-3rd c. AD). The only thing that is known is that at the end of the 2nd c. AD a strong military fortress was built at the exit of the Iskar Gorge (near modern Mezdra), which purpose was to guard the access to the pass.

Batulya archaeological field school

In the 4th century AD, a new series of events led to significant changes even in the protected and independent area of the Iskar Gorge. In 272 AD, the Roman troops left an entire province - Dacia (modern Romania) and relocated its population to the south of the Danube. At the end of the 3rd century, Emperor Diocletian began a reform, which in fact divided the Roman Empire into two parts - Eastern and Western. In 313 AD Constantine the Great accepted Christianity as an official religion of the Empire and in 330 officially declared Constantinople (now Istanbul) the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. In the 4th century, the Empire experienced several devastating wars with the Goths, and the beginning of the 5th century was marked by the dreadful threat of the Huns' invasions.

All these events irrevocably changed life in the Empire. Whole regions deserted and their population settled in uncomfortable for living, but protected and safe havens in the mountains. It is then that the gorge around the Iskar River becomes an attractive and desirable place, protected from enemies and therefore convenient for living. Although not studied, most of the fortresses located on the territory of Svoge municipality probably belong to that time.

Description of the site

The Fortress near Batulya is part of the system of fortified settlements raised (or renewed) during the devastating attacks of the Goths and Huns in 4th and 5th c. AD. It is also the first fortress, studied through archaeological excavations throughout the Iskar Gorge and its adjacent territory. Its full investigation will give answers to many questions about the structure and layout of these kinds of settlements, about the military organization, and the way of life of the population in this period.

Nowadays the fortress is easily accessible, since at the foot of the fortress at the beginning of the 20th century was built the monastery "St. Nicholas". Thanks to the municipal administration of Svoge, the monastery complex and the ancient fortress next to it will become an attractive place for rest and visits.

In July 2017, with the financial support of the municipality, started the archaeological excavations of the fortress, which the main goal for this season was to clarify the topography (dimensions and layout of the fortress) and the chronology (the time of occupation) of the site.

An interesting fact is that the ancient fortress is situated in close proximity to the modern dirt road to the village of Bukovets, in the outskirts of which is registered another similar fortress. It is very likely that the modern road follows an ancient road path that connects the settlements in the mountain and from the village of Bukovets is climbing the ridge of Golema (The Big) mountain (which now coincides with the trans-European hiking trail Kom-Emine) and cross the mountains in North direction. Thus the fortress probably is part of the defensive system of the road linking Northern Bulgaria with Sofia field.

The fortress is situated at about 640 meters above sea level, in a place surrounded by three rivers - at its eastern foothills, influx River Krasteshka in Batuliyska River, and from the north passes Ogradshishka River, which flows into Krasteshka. Nowadays along the Ogradishka River and near the fortress, there are several springs, from where probably the fortress was supplied with water. In fact, the lack of direct water supply is a typical phenomenon for the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries. In some places in Bulgaria are discovered whole facilities, which lead to wells or springs outside the fortress walls - cut stairs, shafts, and even underground tunnels. In the fortress near Batulya, in its easternmost part, is registered a deeply carved into the rock square-shaped facility, which probably had similar functions.

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

Another way of supplying water was the cisterns (storages), which were filled with rainwater or were manually loaded with water brought from the nearby springs. Sometimes for this purpose were used large pots (Greek: πίθος, Pithos; Latin: Dolium). The doliums were buried in the ground so that only their rims have appeared on the surface and were used for storage of various products - mostly grains, but also water, wine, etc. In Batulya fortress during the excavations were found quite large amount of fragments of such vessels that have been intended for storage and preservation of food.

The fortress itself was positioned in such a way that it protected its occupants from almost all directions. From the north, the mountain slope descends steeply to the river Ogradischka. From the south, the terrain is a sheer cliff, positioned so that the fortress's builders were forced to build the southern wall arched toward the interior of the habitable space.

Only from the west the terrain is not steep and leads to a narrow mountain road, which after about 150 m reaches the modern route to the village of Bukovets. Exactly at that place was located the entrance of the fortress. The construction of this place is quite original and can be seen for the first time among the known fortresses in Bulgaria. Since the place is the most vulnerable point in the defense of the fortress, it is protected by a large-sized rectangular tower whose foundations now outline a square with walls of 10 m. The configuration of the terrain, however, did not allow the construction of one more tower from the other side of the gate. Thus, the fortress wall is extended in front of the tower, forming this way a narrow passage that has been used as an entrance.

Batulya archaeological field school

In the east direction, the fortification reaches to a very narrow and high cliff edge, long more than 100 m. Apparently it was part of the fortress, as in its easternmost site there was a narrow postern (additional emergency entrance) carved into the rock. Probably in antiquity this postern was led to the very steep east slope of the hill. With the building of the monastery, the terrain just below it is artificially leveled, and now this eastern approach to the fortress is situated in close proximity to the monastery building.

Perhaps the interior of the fortress was densely built. A massive building, located in the narrowest part of the fortress, was partially discovered in 2017. At this point, the southern and northern fortification walls are closer than 10 meters apart. Typical for the fortresses of the period, however, is the maximum use of the protected area. Many of these strongholds have been overcrowded because of the population's desire to seek safety behind the fortress walls. The Batulya fortress is no exception - even in this narrowest section were located buildings, one of which was studied this season.

The building has a very stable construction. Its walls are built in so-called opus impectum - a technique where the two faces of the walls are formed by large stones and the space between them is filled with smaller stones, mixed with a binding material, in this case, mortar. In this way are usually built the fortification walls, and in our case, the revealed building is more like a small bastion than a residential one. Its connection with the fortification system is not excluded, given the proximity of the discovered room to the northern wall.

The building was built entirely of stones, as no bricks were found during the digs. It probably had a second floor, as the thickness of the walls suggests the great height of the building. The roof has been covered with tiles (imbrices) as in its ruins were found such building materials. Perhaps the floor and the walls have been plastered with clay because some fragments of clay coats with a well-flattened surface were discovered around.

South of the building was discovered part of stone flooring, which probably marked the street with east-west direction. Since this is the narrowest place of the fortress, it can be assumed that the street has connected the two wider parts of the fortress and had central importance. In the upcoming seasons, tracking the route on this street will probably reveal the most important elements of the fortress. Parallels with similar fortresses show that this place should have besides residential buildings as well as administrative, economic, and religious. A find of a bronze cross that was discovered in the fortress and is currently kept in the monastery "St. Nicholas" indicates that at the place existed a church.

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

The finds found during the excavations suggest that the fortress was inhabited by civilian populations and was built for its protection, rather than strategic or military purposes. Of course, the existence of a small military garrison, possibly emitted from the population of the fortress, may be presumed. For now, however, in the fortress were found only artifacts with domestic character - vessels used in everyday life (jugs, pots, lids for these pots, etc.), a millstone used for grinding cereals, doliums for storage of products.

t is important to emphasize that this is only the beginning of the study of this fortress. In the next seasons, the efforts will focus on clarification of the internal planning, tracking the main street, and possibly uncovering a part of the fortification wall. Thus will reveal the first and so far the only ancient fortress in the Iskar Gorge, and we will learn many more interesting facts about the history of this region.

What you will learn

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological rield school
Batulya archaeological field school

Archaeological fieldwork is a complicated discipline that required a wide range of skills. At the site, you will learn some geodetic methods: how to measure the ground and localize your place of work, how to calculate the position of the materials found, how to work on different scales. We should master the methods of documentation of different archaeological situations - drawing vertical and horizontal plans, measuring coordinates of the finds, taking professional photos. Dealing with the archaeological finds at the site is also a very important skill. You will learn the basic methods of collecting pottery, metal, bones, etc. A very important skill is to learn how to recognize and interpret the different chronological periods at the terrain (the archaeological layers). We will very carefully go deep into the cultural layers and describe all details in the archaeological diary.

The post fieldwork will give you the ability to understand and interpret the archaeological data. This is the second stage of the archaeological work and is focused on the materials found on the terrain. It will give you basic knowledge on field conservation of the artifacts, documentation of finds, and preliminary analysis of the archaeological data. You will learn how to deal with different types of archaeological finds, how to sort so-called "mass material" and how to fill in an inventory book. Short lessons will be given on illustration of the archaeological materials (technical drawing), processing of geodetic data, and working with the appropriate computer software - AutoCad, Photoshop, etc. Within 15 days you will go through all necessary competencies of field archaeology. Never forget, however, that the practice is the best teacher! So, we're open to your ideas and we hope that you will become a valuable member of our team.

Course description

  1. Sketch survey: offset surveying, triangulation, survey framework.

  2. Grid system. Methods of lay out.

  3. Process of levelling. Working with level. Working with theodolite.

  4. The written records: scientific diary, filing in statistical cards.

  5. The drawn record: contexts (pits, postholes, ditches, walls).

  6. The drawn record: Single-context plan; Section drawing; Site recording grid; Composite plan; Multiple-feature plan.

  7. Photographical records.

  8. Identification of living surfaces.

  9. Dating of contexts - terminus post quem and terminus ante quem. Artefact assemblages.

  10. Cross-sections and soil examples.

  11. Methods of excavation of artefacts.

  12. Types of artefacts.

  13. The finds record.

  1. Cleaning and field conservation methods (Pottery; Metals; Glass; Stone; Organic artefacts).

  2. Descriptive and measurement methods.

  3. Archaeological illustration (Pottery; Metals; Glass; Stone).

  4. Cataloguing. Inventory book.

  5. Working with image processing software.

  6. Interpreting the evidences. Archaeological report and presentation.

  1. Barker, X P. A., 1993. Techniques of Archaeological Excavation. London.

  2. Greene, K., Moore, T., 2010 (fifth edition). Archaeology, An Introduction. London.

  3. Archaeological illustration. Cambridge manuals in Archaeology. Cambridge University Press 1989.

How you will help

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

The archaeological excavations are complicated work that requires the joint efforts of different specialists. Our main goal for the next season will be to uncover as much as possible structures inside of the fortress and to collect archaeological data about the everyday life of the ancient population. That's why we're going to work in several sections and we should take care of the documentation and description of our work.

Certainly, the first action we must take is to dig. We're going to dig at least in three different sections. That's because we need to check at different points of the site for archaeological structures. This way our team will be separated and your help will be very valuable. At the terrain we're going to need a relatively great number of people to take care of measurements, to watch not to miss artifacts (archaeological finds), and to clean archaeological structures. Yes, the archaeological work is hard but not because of the digging but because of the scientific work that should be done in the field. And this is not all ...

The second part of our work consists of cleaning, photographing, drawing, and describing. All finds coming from the site must be put in order as they are the main source of information. For example, the pottery must be washed, sorted, and packaged in bags. The metal finds must be cleaned, measured, and described. Furthermore, all these finds should be situated with exact coordinates of the place they were found. That's great work and we will appreciate your help. Never forget - the archaeological excavations in fact destroy the archaeological sites! That's means that if we make mistake (miss to document something) we can not go back and restore the unearthed place as it has been before.

Living conditions

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field chool

THE ACCOMMODATION of the students is in Beliovi kasti (Belio's houses). This is a small neighborhood that consisted of five houses and turned into a guest house. The complex keeps the original 18th-century view of the buildings situated in a picturesque mountain area. The Interior of the old houses is repaired and offers all the necessary facilities. The place is located 4 km away from the village of Batulya and 4,5 km from the archaeological site. The owners of the guest house offer two buses for transportation of the archaeological team and the students. One of them is attractive - a Rusian 80s UAZ, completely repaired and renovated.

THE FOOD in general is traditional Bulgarian. The breakfast is in the hotel at 7.00 AM. Work at the site begins at 8.00 AM and continue till 1.00 PM. We will have a short break at 11.00 AM for coffee or "second breakfast". At 1.30 PM the group is going back to the hotel for lunch. The free time is between 2.00 and 4.00 PM (taking shower, rest, etc.). Next, we continue with finds processing and theoretical lectures and discussions on the materials found, history and archaeology in the region, etc. The dinner is at 8.00 PM.

Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

Useful to know about Bulgarian Cuisine

The Bulgarian cuisine is with an emphasis on fresh seasonal produce, and healthy, unfussy preparation methods. Influenced by the 500-year Turkish occupation and the country's proximity to Greece, Bulgarian cuisine features plenty of spices (many of which are indigenous), and predominantly chicken, pork, and veal, often baked with cheese or yogurt, and piles of fresh vegetables.

Bulgarians almost always start their meal with a simple salad accompanied by a shot (or two) of rakia, the local grape- or plum-based liquor. Meat - chicken or pork, usually chargrilled over coals or baked in an earthenware pot with vegetables - follows, with a side order of potatoes or bread. Chubritsa, a unique Bulgarian spice, usually is on the table to perk up a meal should you deem the flavors too bland.


Session 1: 4 July - 17 July, 2021

Session 2: 18 July - 31 July, 2021

Optionally   Excursion to Amphipolis.
One week before starting the Session 1 / one week after finishing the Session 2.
More details here
Sunday Afternoon Meeting the group at Sofia airport in the late afternoon. Transfer to Batula with private bus. Accommodation in Beliovi's houses and meeting the team. Welcome party.
Monday Morning Free time. Resting after the long travelling and the party.
  Afternoon Walking to the archaeological site. Introduction to the main goals and activities of the archaeological work.
Tuesday - Friday 7.30 AM Breakfast
  8.30 AM Working at the archaeological site
  11.00 AM Coffee break & second breakfast
  1.30 PM Lunch
  5.00-7.00 PM Post-fieldwork
  8.00 PM Dinner
Sunday - Saturday   Days off
Monday - Friday   Working at the archaeological site and post-fieldwork
Saturday   Departure
Optionally   Excursion to Amphipolis.
One week before starting the Session 1 / one week after finishing the Session 2.
More details here

Free time

Svoge oficial vileo - THE LEND OF ADVENTURES

The digs are situated in a wonderful canyon where Iskar River crosses the Stara Planina Mountains - more commonly known as Balkans (the peninsula of the same name is called after the mountain). Hiking, mountain biking, climbing, and many other mountain activities can be practiced in this area. The out of reach uplands near Iskar River appears a perfect place for the construction of many cloisters, most famous of which are the Cherepish Monastery and the Seven Thrones Monastery. If you are a fan of pilgrim tourism this is the right place for you. There are so many superb and intriguing places around, made by humans and created by Nature, and every step of discovering it will be pure pleasure.

The Batulya fortress is situated only 20 km from the main town of Bulgaria - Sofa. It is easy to organize a short sightseeing trip to the Bulgarian capital.

One session of the field school includes two free days (or six in Double session) in which you can organize your own trips or join the guided trips offered by our partner travel agency. In any case, our team will assist you and give you appropriate advice and help.

Horse riding

The Belio's houses own 50 horses who live free in the mountains. In request, the guest house organizes horseback riding. Previous experience is not required. The kind hostess Boyka is an experienced riding instructor and will help you to enjoy and have fun on your weekend.

In summer 2021 the Belio's houses offer Mountain crossing with horses in three destinations:

  1. Belio's houses - mountain shelter Chakaloto. Duration 3-4 hours. Distance 4 km. Price €25 per person.

  2. Belio's houses - the church St. Nicholas in Bukovets. Duration 5-6 hours. Distance 10 km. Price €35 per person.

  3. Belio's houses - Trastenaya hut. The route follows an ancient Roman road. Duration one day. Distance 20 km. Price €50 per person.

The booking is arranged in place according to your personal preferences.

Canyoning in Temnata dupka (The Dark Hole) cave

Organizer: WIDLAN

"Temna dupka" is the most famous cave in Iskar gorge. Its enter looks like a giant black hole in the rocks. It’s around 5 km long but not the entire inside is explored. The cave is a complicated labyrinth of entrances, galleries, waterfalls, rapids, drains, underground rivers, and lakes. Inside the cave, you will find different kinds of ponds and even a river which flows in the most famous karst spring in this area, called Zhitolub (located near the main road). Due to its labyrinth nature, it should be visited with an experienced guide and with the required equipment.

Duration: 5 hours

Price €150 per groop. The personal price depends of the noumber of participants.

The booking is arranged in place according to your personal preferences.

Excursion to Amphipolis

Organizer: ALFATOUR travel agency

Duration: 6 days

Dates: 28 June - 3 July & 1-7 August, 2021

Price: € 350

Day 1 Departure from Sofia to Blagoevgrad. On the way visit to Rila Monastery and St. Nikola Letni Monastery in the village of Smochevo. Arrival in Blagoevgrad. Sightseeing tour of the city. Overnight.
Day 2 Breakfast. Visit the archaeological park Skaptopara near Blagoevgrad. Departure to Rupite and to the archaeological complex Hercules Syntica Archeological Complex near Petrich. Visit Rozhen Monastery. Free time in Melnik. Overnight in Melnik.<
Day 3 Breakfast. Departure to Amphipolis through Kulata - Promahon border checkpoint. Optionally - a short visit to Serres. Visit the archaeological site in Amphipolis (at request a meeting with the archaeologists who have worked at the site can be organized). Overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 4 Breakfast. Free time in Thessaloniki with an option for visiting the archaeological museum. Departure to the Republic of Northern Macedonia via the "Medzitlija" border checkpoint. Overnight in Bitola.
Day 5 Breakfast. Visit the Archeological Complex Heraclea Lyncestis near Bitola. Departure to Ohrid. Sightseeing tour of the city. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 6 Breakfast. Departure to Bulgaria via Skopje-Kriva Palanka / Gyueshevo border checkpoint. Visit Skopje - the capital of the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Arriving in Sofia late at night.
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school
Batulya archaeological field school

The price includes: bed and breakfast in Blagoevgrad, Melnik (Bulgaria), Thessaloniki (Greece ), Bitola and Ohrid (Northern Macedonia). Transport to and from Sofia. Medical insurance.

The price does not include: Dinners. The group tour guide, entrance fees for museums, tourist sites, personal expenses.

Expenses & Discounts

Svoge municipal administration covers almost all necessary expenses for the excavations. All necessary materials and supplies are ensured. Also, you will not have to worry about your traveling to a foreign country - our English speaking team will guide you and will organize your program. However, a participation fee is required as you should cover your accommodation and meals as well as the educational tax.

You will need some additional money on your own if you plan to organize your own trip at the weekends. Sofia is too close to our accommodation place and you will have a chance to spend one or two days in the capital of Bulgaria. If you wish to join our organized trips incl. hiking, canyoning, extreme downhill ride, etc., you should cover the expenses for equipment and professional guides.

One session (2 weeks) € 973  
Double session (4 weeks) € 1,849 5%
Early registration (till December 31, 2020) - one session € 924 5%
Early registration (till December 31, 2020) - double session € 1,751 10%
Former participants - one session € 778 20%
Former participants - double session € 1,459 25%
Participation in more than one "Svoge heritage program" (SHP) projects - one session € 924 5%
Group of three or more people - one session € 876 10%
Active members of SHP free  


When is the deadline to apply?
We don't have a deadline - the applications will be accepted till the places are filled in.
What the price includes?
The price includes accommodation, food, transportation to the site, and an educational fee. It is not cover your international transport and the trips at the weekends if you decide to travel somewhere in the country in your free time.
Are there any other fees apart from applying fees?
The tuition fee for 15 days is 973 Euros (one session) and 1,849 Euros for the double session (30 days). No additional fees are applied to this amount.
Will there be any fees for meals and accomodations, or are they included in the 675€ educational fee?
No additional taxes will be applied to the fee of 973 Euros..
Do I need to apply for visa?
Bulgaria is part of the European Union, so depending on your citizenship you should check if a visa is required for Europe.
Will my flights to/from Bulgaria be paid for, or am I responsible for booking and paying for them?
International transport is not included in the price and should be covered by the students themselves.
Is there a special meeting place in Sofia?
Usually, we meet the students at the Central Train station in Sofia. You will receive detailed instructions on how to get there from the Airport.
How many students will be apart of the group?
The maximum number of students is 6 per session.
Are there specific days that I would have to arrive/depart on?
The arriving/departure day is the first/last date of the session.
Are there any previous volunteers I might be able to talk to or email to learn more about the project?
You can refer to our CONTACTS section and set your questions to our coordinators for Europe, USA and Canada. All of them are alumni of Batulya field school.
Is it possible to accommodate vegetarian and vegan diets on the project?
Of course, we will ensure appropriate food for vegetarians.
Does the guesthouse have laundry facilities?
Yes, the residence place provides laundry.
I was accepted into the archaeological program this summer but I didn't pay the deposit in time as I was looking into another possibility. Would it still be possible for me to join in the program?
To resume your application in case you have canceled once, you should pay an additional tax of 50 euros.
Is it possible for me to dig in the next season as I am unable to go this summer due to other circumstances. Or is it possible to get a refund on the paid deposit?
The deposit is not refundable. But you can use it for the next year. Your place will be reserved.



To join us you should simply fill in our Application form. In the time of applying we required € 150 booking fee to be paid in advance. This amount is not refundable! Your place is considered reserved only after the payment of the fee.

After receiving your application we will proceed with your documents and will contact you within three days with further instructions. The rest of the fee is payable 4 weeks before the beginning of the field school. This amount is fully reimbursable but in case of cancellation, you should inform us not later than one week prior beginning of the digs. After this deadline, the amount is not refundable!

Any additional questions concerning application procedure and field school you can send to

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