There are only few regional hotspots with concentrations of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites in southeastern Europe. The territory of Montenegro is one such region that has seen only limited explorations to-date. Its karstic landscape in the hinterland of the southern part of the eastern Adriatic Sea, with mountainous regions off the Dinaric Alps carved by deep river canyons, reveals many cave sites that were the main repositories of human occupational histories in the prehistoric past. The focus of our investigations is the site of Vrbička Cave and its immediate environs, located in western Montenegro. The 2017 season will expand the excavation areas opened thus far. Research will focus on gaining better understanding of the use of the cave space for specialized activities during different phases of its occupation. In addition, research will include a survey of surrounding landscapes for locating sources of flint deposits that might have been used by prehistoric foragers.
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. Dusan Boric
Dr. Boric is Lecturer and Researcher at the School of History, Archaeology and Religion at Cardiff University (UK).
Being a part of the team at Vrbicka was a rewarding experience, especially as a student who hadn’t previously been on an excavation. The directors and team were knowledgeable, friendly and willing to show me through all the skills needed on site. Splitting time between the work in the cave and the post excavation gave me an insight into many types of archaeological skills, from the digging on site through to the documenting of finds. The experience was a great way to understand more about life on an archaeological dig as well as a fantastic opportunity to explore Montenegro.
Holly Brown, Cardiff University, 2016
Participating in the Vrbicka fieldwork placement during the summer of 2016 gave me a detailed insight into the Prehistoric archaeology situated within Montenegro. The plethora of archaeology, many of which remains to be uncovered, combined with the beauty of this location enhanced the overall experience gained during my time on this excavation. Moreover, I believe this opportunity has helped me advance my personal skillset, with the help of numerous archaeological experts within the cave site. I would recommend this site to any aspiring archaeologist looking to gain a detailed practice within overseas archaeology.
Michael Knight, Cardiff University, 2016
Costs of instruction
Room & board
All local transportation
A deposit of $500 is required. Once your application is accepted, the deposit fee secures your seat in this project. This program requires an application. There is no application fee. Only accepted students are provided with the link to pay the deposit fee.
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 live in comfortable, but modest, apartments in the town of Niksic. The site of Vrbicka Cave is located 10 miles from Niksic at 950 meters above sea level (ca. 3,100 feet). Apartments will have all basic necessary amenities, including hot showers and a washing machine. Students will sleep on beds, couches or on inflatable mattresses on the floor and will share bathrooms with other students in the same apartment. There will be up to 5 students per apartment. Students will need to bring their own sleeping bag and towels.
All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious but basic food in the tradition of local cousin. Dinner will be served at a local restaurant where a choice of grilled meat, fish or salads will be provided. Some specialized diets may be arranged (vegan, kosher, etc.) but students must consult with project directors and no guarantees will be made. Vegetarian options will be much easier to accommodate although you should be aware that Balkan cuisine is very much based on meat, especially grilled meat.
Students arriving by air will be met at the Podgorica airport in Montenegro (TGD) by project staff members. Alternatively you could also arrive to Dubrovnik airport (DBV) in Croatia. Please let us know which airport you will be arriving to so we may organize an airport pickup. Students may choose to fly into Belgrade (Serbia) first and then take a short flight from there to Podgorica airport. For students arriving by alternative means (bus, boat from Italy, etc.) special arrangements will be made.
If you missed your connection or your flight is delayed, please call, text or email project director immediately. A local emergency cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.