Project Description


The Bresto Excavation Project is located in the mountains of southwestern Bulgaria. This project explores a fortified settlement from the second half of the 2nd millennium BCE. Bresto was founded during the decline of Troy and the fall of both the Hittite Empire in Anatolia and the Aegean palatial civilizations. After the collapse of these polities, new kinds of networks emerged in the Aegean, where former “fringe” areas became important hubs for the exchange of objects, ideas, and practices. Only 80 miles away from the Aegean Sea, Bresto presents many challenges for excavations, including complex stratigraphy. The site is protected by two large fortification walls, one of which has vertical offsets similar to the slightly earlier fortification of Late Bronze Age Troy. An international team of scholars from Bulgaria, Germany, and the US is currently attempting to better understand the story behind Bresto and its place in the transition from the Bronze to the Iron Age. The excavation conducted for the last five years shows that despite Bresto’s location in a marginal mountain valley nowadays, economic and social life flourished at the site during the 13th–12th century BCE. The 2017 season at Bresto aims to address important questions about Bresto’s economy, political structure and its relationships to the landscape – both physical and cultural. Field school students will take part in further excavation of Late Bronze Age fortress, learn more about the archaeology and history of the Eastern Mediterranean during the Late Bronze and the Early Iron Ages, artifact biographies and cultural encounters, interdisciplinary studies (bio- and geoarchaeology), archaeological field techniques and methods for excavation and documentation, processing of finds and samples and take part in excursions to significant heritage sites in Bulgaria and Greece.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: Jul 24-Aug 21, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED
  • Total Cost: $4,650
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 21, 2017
  • Instructors: Prof. Philipp Stockhammer, Asst. Prof. Bogdan Athanassov
  • Orientation:  April 29, 8:00am Los Angeles Time
Program Closed


The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Prof. Philipp Stockhammer
Prof. Philipp Stockhammer
Prof. Stockhammer is a faculty member at the Institute for Prehistory and Early History, Archaeology and Provincial Roman Archaeology, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich
Asst. Prof. Bogdan Athanassov
Asst. Prof. Bogdan Athanassov
Prof. Athanassov is a faculty member at the Department of Archaeology and head of the Laboratory of Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology, New Bulgarian University in Sofia

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


In Hotel Pri Spaska (Spaska’s) in Banya, Municipality of Razlog, Bulgaria. Comfortable rooms with 2-3 beds and private bathrooms with shower and WC (tap hot water comes from a geothermal spring). Cheap laundry service and free Wi-Fi are provided. Students are not expected to bring any additional equipment, sleeping bags or towels.

MEALS: Three meals (Balkan cuisine) per day are provided. Meals usually take place in the hotel’s restaurant. Brown-bag-lunches will be provided during excursions. This field school can accommodate vegetarians and individuals with lactose-intolerance diet. Vegan, kosher, gluten-free restrictions or other diets are impossible to accommodate at this location.

Students must pay on their own for extra days and/or for single room accommodation.

Bresto, Bulgaria

Travel Info

Students shall meet at on July 24 at 4:00 pm at the arrival area in Sofia International Airport (terminal 2). Please go the the OK Taxi desk (Balkan Heritage Foundation Travel partner) and let the attendant know of your arrival. Students will be driven from the airport by taxi/shuttle to Banya. The trip takes approximately 3.5 hours, depending on traffic. It is recommended to exchange/withdraw 20 Bulgarian Lev (app. 11 USD) to buy a bottle of water and visit the restroom before the trip. Students are responsible for transportation back to the airport – or onward travel – at the end of the field school.

If you missed your connection or your flight was delayed/canceled, call, text or email to program staff.  Local contact numbers will be provided to enrolled students.

VISA REQUIREMENTS: Citizens of the US, EU, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand do not need visa to visit Bulgaria for up to 90 days. Citizens of all other countries may need a visa. The Balkan Heritage Foundation can send an official invitation letter that should be used at the relevant embassy to secure a visa to the program. For more information visit the US State Department Travel Advice page or Balkan Heritage Foundation visa help web page.

HEALTH ISSUES: For specific information regarding travel health issues pertinent to travel in Bulgaria, consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Students are able to get general information, essential travel basics and tips concerning the project location and the country at (for Bulgaria) and (for the project). All students will receive a travel info-sheet with specific travel details prior to departure.

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.