Project Description


Tell Yunatsite is one of the earliest proto urban sites established in Europe. Dated to the 5th millennium BCE (Copper Age/Chalcolithic), the site include evidence of some of the earliest agriculture found in Europe. Tell Yunatsite was likely an important stepping stone in the spread of early agricultural practices from Anatolia west, through the Balkans and into the heart of Europe. The site flourished between 4,900-4,100 BCE with elaborate architecture. A small gold bead found at the site by a field school student in 2016 is believed to be the oldest bit of processed gold ever discovered in Europe, and likely in the world. Tell Yunatsite collapsed and was abandoned by the end of the 5th millennium – from reasons yet unknown.  But Yunatsite location, just by a perennial river and at the heart of a fertile valley floor, was not forgotten. The Tell show evidence of a very long occupation sequence, including medieval cemetery at its top, followed by levels dating to the Roman period, the Iron and Early Bronze Ages, and the Chalcolithic at the base. Despite work at the site since 1939, sterile soils have not yet been reached. Tell Yunatsite is a textbook case study of long and clear stratigraphy.

During the 2017 season, students will work at the burned Copper Age buildings. Research will focus on the terminal phase of Copper Age occupation and the reasons for the site rapid collapse and abandonment.

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: Jun 24-Jul 22, 2017
  • Enrollment Status: CLOSED
  • Total Cost: $3,220
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: June 1, 2017
  • Instructors: Asst. Prof. Kamen Boyadzhiev, Assoc. Prof. Yavor Boyadzhiev
  • Orientation:  April 23, 11:00am Los Angeles Time
Program Closed
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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. Kamen Boyadzhiev
Dr. Kamen Boyadzhiev
Dr. Boyadzhiev is an archaeologist and Head of the Exhibitions’ Department at the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Dig Co-director; Balkan Heritage Foundation affiliate.
Dr. Yavor Boyadzhiev
Dr. Yavor Boyadzhiev
Dr. Boyadzhiev is an archaeologist and Associated Professor at the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences; Dig Co-director; Balkan Heritage Foundation affiliate.


Tell Yunatsite is a great example of a Copper and Bronze Age site. I learned an incredible amount of things there, I can now read soil and a profile so well, read stratigraphy, etc. The supervisors did an amazing job at teaching us how to do things, letting you start by figuring it on your own and then they help guide you along the process rather than just telling you everything. The pottery that we were finding every single day was very beautiful and of very high quality. In addition to the instructions at site, the lectures were also very informative and helpful. In the end of the course I definitely feel more skilled as an archaeologist. All I can say is you have to go and find out for yourself!

Caleb Sobczak, University of Montana (2015)
Tell Yunatsite is an extremely large tell – at least 12 meters of soil of cultural stratigraphy – which I think is amazingly overwhelming! I was very interested in understanding this time period and I’m very excited to be here! We had an excellent team of supervisors and students, the Balkan Heritage Balkan Heritage Field School programs are fantastic, they foster your interests and also your level of experience. We’ve done quite a bit of work, we’ve been digging in a few squares, and found some very interesting things! If you want to know more about it you should come next year and join the team!
Brent Whitford, Vancouver Island University (2013)

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 Primavera Hotel in the district town of Pazardzhik, Bulgaria – in comfortable rooms with 2-3 beds per room, bathrooms with shower and WC, TV, air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Cheap laundry service available at the archaeological site. Participants are not expected to bring any additional equipment, sleeping bags or towels. The hotel is located next to the main pedestrian area of the Downtown Pazardzhik. There are lots of shops, pharmacies, banks, ATMs, a hospital, taverns, bars, cafes, post office and tourist attractions around in the hotel area. Pazardzhik is a mid-size Bulgarian town (50 000 inhabitants). The town and its surroundings offer a variety of opportunities for good entertainment, sightseeing, sports, wine-tasting and shopping.

The excavation site, Tell Yunatsite is situated about 10 km away (15 min ride) from Pazardzhik and the hotel. Transport on work days will be arranged and covered by the Balkan Heritage Foundation (BHF). Next to the site is the archaeological base with running water, electricity, a field latrine, dining and lab facilities as well as a tool storage available to the students.

Meals: Three meals (Balkan cuisine) per day are covered by tuition fee. This field school can accommodate vegetarians, vegans and individuals with gluten- and lactose-intolerance. Kosher-restrictions are impossible to accommodate in this location.

Breakfast and lunch meals will take place at the site during the work days. Other meals will take place at the hotel’s restaurant. Brown-bag-lunches will be provided during excursions and days-off.

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

Bulgaria - Tell Yunatsite

Travel Info

Students will meet on June 24 at 5:30pm at the OK Taxi Desk (Balkan Heritage Foundation Travel partner) in the Sofia International Airport Terminal 2 arrival area. From there, students will be driven via taxi/shuttle to the hotel. The trip takes app. 1-1 ½ hrs., but that time highly depends on the traffic. It is recommended that students exchange/withdraw up to 20 Bulgarian lev (app. 11 USD), buy a bottle of water, and visit the restroom before the trip. The taxi/shuttle can stop for a short break at a gas station on the way to the field school venue. 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 the project staff (email: Local contact information will be provided to enrolled students.

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.