Graduate Program in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology

ARHM012. Fieldwork in archaeology or conservation. Bogdan Athanassov, Ivan Vassilev

4 weeks of archaeological fieldwork,  150 hours, 15 credits


This course offers students the opportunity to choose one of the Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF) field-schools projects announced on the foundation’s webpage. The broad spectrum of archaeological excavations, conservation, and cultural heritage projects run by the BHF allows students to follow their interests and assemble fieldwork experience in various fields. Whether excavating a prehistoric tell site, Greek colony, Macedonian town, Roman road station or Medieval church, students will be introduced to field archaeology and its most important methods. Emphasis is placed on excavation techniques, documentation and principals of interpretation.


The course consists of three study modules:

1) Theoretical module – lectures and instructions concerning the basic field methods and practices of excavation, and lectures related to the archaeological and historical context of the site;

2) Practical module – field work at an archaeological site and workshops related to the processing of archaeological finds;

3) Study excursions to significant historical sites in the region.






Lectures (20 hours)



Introduction to the period and area of the project chosen (e.g. Neolithic in Southeast Europe, Bronze Age in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greek Colonization, Roman Empire etc.  



Special issues and case studies related with the project chosen



Previous research on the archaeological site chosen



Excavations Preparation. Preliminary Indoor Research. Excavation Completion. Post-excavation Work and Analyses



Basic Field Methods and Practices for Excavation and Documentation. Basic Principles of Finds’ Processing and Flotation of Soil Samples



Field Diary: Describing excavation process, features and their stratigraphic position, Archaeological Photography in the Field and in the Lab



Three-Dimensional Positioning of Finds, Features, Structures. Field Graphic Documentation: Scale Drawing of Vertical Profiles (Sections), Horizontal Situation (Plans) and Architectural Structures



Graphic and photo documentation of excavation trenches, stratigraphic sequence and contexts



Dating Methods in Archaeology



Formation processes of the archaeological record









Practical work (130 hours)






Lab work



Study visits








Essential readings:


Berggren, A. The relevance of stratigraphy. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 22-25.

Bradley, R. The Excavation Report as a Literary Genre: Traditional Practice in Britain. World Archaeology 38, 4, 2006, 664-671.

Burke, H. and Cl. Smith. The Archaeologist's Field Handbook. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest 2004.

Carver, M. Field archaeology. In: G. Barker (ed.) Companion Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Vol. 1, London et. al., 1999, 128-181.

Cobb, H. / O. J. T. Harris / C. Jones / Ph. Richardson (eds.) Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork. Exploring On-Site Relationships between Theory and Practice. Springer. New York et al. 2012.

Drewett, P. Field Archaeology. An Introduction. UCL Press, London 2001 (1999).

Gamble, C. Archaeology: The Basics. Rutledge, New York al. 2001.

Gosden, Chr. and Y. Marshall. The cultural biography of objects. World Archaeology, 31, 2, 1999, 169-178.

Grant J., S. Gorin and N. Fleming. The Archaeology Coursebook: an introduction to themes, sites, methods and skills. Routledge 2008.

Harris, E. C. Principles of Archaeological Stratigraphy. Academic Press, London 1979.

Hodder, I. Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things. Wiley-Blackwell 2012.

Kopytoff, I. The cultural biography of things. Commoditization as process. In: Appadurai, A. (ed.) 1986, The Social Life of Things, Cambridge 1986, 61-94.

Lyman, L. R. and M. J. O' Brien. Measuring Time with Artifacts. A History of Methods in American Archaeology. University of Nebraska Press 2006.

Maca, A. L. Remembering the basics. Social and stratigraphic debates and biases. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 31-38.

McAnany, P. and I. Hodder. Thinking about stratigraphic sequence in social terms. Archaeological Dialogues 16, 1, 2009, 1-22.

Paice, P. Extensions to the Harris Matrix System to Illustrate Stratigraphic Discussion of an Archaeological Site. Journal of Field Archaeology 18, 1991, 17-28.

Roskams, St. Excavation. Cambridge Univ. Press. 2001.

Schiffer, M. B. Formation Process of the Archaeological Record. Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press 1987.

Skibo, J. M. and M. B. Schiffer. People and Thinks. A Behavioural Approach to Material Culture. Springer, New York 2008.

Walker, W. H. Stratigraphy and practical reason. American Anthropologist 104, 1, 2002, 159-177.

Yarrow, Th. Artifactual Persons: The Relational Capacities of Persons and Things in the Practice of Excavation. Norwegian Archaeological Review 36, 1, 2003, 65-73.