Project Description


The prehistoric settlement Ilindentsi is one of the very early Neolithic settlements in Europe (6000 – 5400 BCE). It is located on a high terrace just at the foot of the Pirin Mountains – the third-highest range on the Balkans. The site (with vertical and horizontal stratigraphy) occupies almost three hectares, where the prehistoric cultural layers lie immediately under the topsoil (10 to 20 cm). During the previous seasons (2004-2009 and 2011-2017) archaeologists unearthed remains of Early and Middle Neolithic settlement structures and features. Although the possibility for acculturation of indigenous population cannot be completely disregarded at this stage, archaeologists assume that the Neolithic settlement at Ilindentsi was established by people of Anatolian origin (culture Hacilar VI-I). These migration patterns trace the routes of European Neolithisation and indicate multiple origins. Early farmers likely entered Europe due to complex and varied reasons: increased population, limited environmental resources, climate change etc. The research at Ilindentsi aims to address these questions. Our goal is not only to explore migration routes and reasons for European Neolithisation but also the type and history of interactions between different Neolithic groups and farming communities in the Balkans, their technology, economic and social organization. More site-specific questions concern the continuity/discontinuity of habitation, borders of the settlement through time and the function and the range of fortifications. In 2018, field school students will take part in further excavation of Neolithic buildings, learn more about the archaeology of the Neolithic period in Europe and the Near East, Neolithic ceramic studies and documentation of Neolithic pottery, 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. Students can take part also in an optional 2-day tour to Greece.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: May 20-June 16, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,220
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 20, 2018
  • Instructors: Dr. Malgorzata Grębska-Kulova, Mr. Petar Zidarov
  • Online Orientation:  April 21, 2018, 8:30 AM PST
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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.

Dr. Malgorzata Grębska-Kulova
Dr. Malgorzata Grębska-Kulova
Dr. Grębska-Kulova is the Curator and Research Fellow at the Department of Archaeology, Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History. She is also Visiting Professor at South West University, Bulgaria and a Balkan Heritage Foundation affiliate.
Mr. Petar Zidarov
Mr. Petar Zidarov
Mr. Zidarov is a PhD candidate in Archaeology at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen, Germany. He is a Visiting Professor at the Department of Archaeology and Center for Vocational and Continuing Education and Research assistant at the Lab of Archaeometry and Experimental Archaeology at the New Bulgarian University.


What I really enjoyed about the Ilindentsi field school was the hands on experience working with every aspect of archaeological fieldwork – we did the digging, the finds processing, I really got a taste of everything that goes into archaeological work. But in addition to a lot of hard work we also had a lot of free time to explore all the beautiful sites in Bulgaria and Greece and really got a great idea of all this region has to offer!
Natalie Pope , Dickenson College (2015)
I had a really great experience in Ilindentsi – at the site we had a lot of finds and the supervisors were really helpful . Besides the fieldwork we took a tour to Greece and visited many ancient archaeological sites, went to the beach and had a wonderful time. I would definitely recommend this dig!
Yusra Hoyt, University of New Mexico (2015)

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.


Students will stay at the Blagovesta Guest-house at Ilindentsi. The guest house has comfortable rooms with 2 to 3 beds, bathrooms with a WC, shower, air-conditioning, and TV. Laundry service and free Wi-Fi is provided. Students are not expected to bring any additional equipment, sleeping bags or towels.

The village and the site: Ilindentsi is a small village – there are a couple of basic food & beverage shops, bars & taverns, a winery, a Christian Orthodox church and an art-center with a sculpture park. The closest supermarket, drug-store, pharmacy, bank with ATM and medical office are in the municipal center Strumyani, 3 km away from Ilindentsi.

The excavation site is situated about 1 km away from Blagovesta guesthouse. Participants will be expected to walk to the site and back to the guest house during the work days. The walk takes approximately 15 minutes. All site trenches are protected from the sun by sheds. The site has no running water or electricity nearby but there is a field latrine.

Meals: Three meals (Balkan cuisine) per day are provided. Meals usually take place in the guest-house garden. Brown-bag-lunches will be provided during excursions and days-off. This field school can accommodate vegetarians, vegans and individuals with lactose-intolerance. Kosher and gluten-free restrictions are impossible to accommodate in this location.

Students must pay on their own for extra days and for single room accommodation as well as for extra meals, beverages, services and products!

Ilindentsi, Bulgaria

Travel Info

Students should arrive on May 20 at the guest house by 7:00pm. Students may organize the trip individually or request a transfer for an additional fee. Enrolled students will receive a travel info-sheet with specific travel details prior to departure.

If you missed your connection or your flight was delayed/canceled, call, text or email the project staff (email: Local contact information will be provided to enrolled students.


Citizens of US, Canada, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand do not need a 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 Balkan Heritage Foundation web site at and the links provided there.

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.