Project Description

This is a joint project with the Balkan Heritage Foundation, Bulgaria. 

IFR policy requires that prior to traveling, all field school students must have completed a COVID-19 vaccine primary series AND received the most recent booster dose recommended by the CDC, if eligible.

All IFR field school applicants should familiarize themselves with IFR COVID-19 Practices BEFORE enrolling in a program. These practices are subject to change as health and risk management experts provide new recommendations and best practices.

You may want to refer to the following websites to stay informed of COVID-19 case numbers and regulations/policies for Bulgaria:

US Embassy in Bulgaria


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: July 8 – August 5, 2023

  • Enrollment Status: Closed

  • Total Cost: $4,832

  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Tuition Payment Deadline: May 26, 2023

  • Instructors: Prof. Philipp Stockhammer, Asst. Prof. Bogdan Athanassov
  • Orientation:  TBD
  • Application Requirement: Phone or Zoom interview with program directors


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

Application Fee: There is a $25 fee to submit an online application.

Deposit Payment:

  • Once you have been accepted to a program, you must place a nonrefundable $500 deposit fee to hold your seat in the program until the tuition payment deadline. The tuition payment deadline can be found in the top right of each field school’s web page under “Course Details”.
  • The $500 deposit fee is included as part of your total tuition fee and NOT in addition to it.

Tuition Fee 

  • The tuition balance is the total program tuition fee minus the $500 deposit fee.
  •  The full tuition fee must be paid by the tuition payment deadline in order to secure your seat in the program.
  • If you do not pay the full tuition fee by the deadline, your place in the program is no longer secure, and if you are unable to participate in the program for any reason, our Late Withdrawal policy below will apply.

Late Fee: A $100 late fee will be added to all accounts not paid in full by the tuition payment deadline.

Withdrawal Policy: If you place a deposit but decide to withdraw, you must notify IFR staff in writing before the tuition payment deadline. In the event of withdrawal, the $500 nonrefundable deposit fee remains nonrefundable and will not be refunded.

Late Withdrawal: If you paid the deposit fee but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition fee regardless of attendance at any IFR program. Please carefully read our Withdrawal & Cancellation Policy for further information.

Cancellation Policy: In the event that IFR must cancel a field school, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.

Credit Card Processing Fee: A 3.5% processing fee is automatically incurred for all credit/debit card/online payments.

Academic Credit Opt Out: Students who wish to participate in an IFR field school without earning academic credit units may do so and receive the following discounts: $300 off a full program (4 or more weeks in length) or $200 off a short program (2-3 weeks in length).

Trip Cancellation Insurance: Please consider purchasing a travel interruption insurance policy that will cover your travel cost and the cost of the IFR program once you make a commitment to attend a field school.

The added risk of COVID-19  should be a “covered event” in your policy.
Please note that the cost of coverage varies, based on your age, the program duration and geographical location.
You may get help and advice from your insurance broker and we offer the links below to help you educate yourself on these insurance products.
– Compare quotes from different companies offering Trip Cancelation insurance plans.


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.

The village and the site: The hallmark of the village of Banya is its thermal mineral waters. There are several spa-hotels with swimming pools and restaurants, small supermarkets, a drug-store, a pharmacy, an ATM and a medical office in the village. A communal open air hot water swimming pool (50 m long) is located 15 minutes away from Spaska’s  Hotel. 

The distance from the hotels to the site is app. 2.5 km/1.5 mi, and it takes an app. 5-7 min drive. Daily BHF shuttle service is arranged for the participants to bring them to the site and back. The site has no running water or electricity but the team organizes drop-offs to the hotel WC upon request. 

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. Vegan, kosher and gluten-free restrictions are impossible to accommodate in this location. 

Bresto, Bulgaria

Travel Info

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding travel regulations related to COVID-19, IFR will assess the local conditions closer to the travel date (5-6 weeks prior to the program beginning) and will make Go/No Go decisions then. Natural disasters, political changes, weather conditions and various other factors may force the cancelation of a field school. You are required to participate in the mandatory orientation meeting when we will discuss the latest travel information and regulations. We also suggest you consider postponing the purchase of your airline ticket until after the program orientation.

On arrival at Sofia International Airport, students will need to take a PCR test at the airport labs (app. cost 48-56 USD) and then self-quarantine at a recommended airport hotel overnight. The BHF recommends the Best Western Premier Sofia Airport Hotel** for the one night quarantine after arrival. Students are responsible for these costs—the PCR test, the hotel room (should make a room reservation prior to travel) and the shuttle cost (40 EUR) to the project venue. All students with negative PCR test results will be picked up from the hotel by a shuttle and delivered to the project hotel – Pri Spasska Hotel  in the village Banya the next day. The project cost covers the shuttle price. Once at the project venue students and project staff will travel to and from the excavation site daily by shuttle (short 5-6 minute ride in each direction) that affords reasonable spacing of occupants. The wearing of face masks during travel is mandatory.

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 / see the map on the bottom of project web site). All students will receive a travel info-sheet with specific travel details prior to departure.

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

The IFR primary concern is with education. Traveling and conducting field research involve risk. Students interested in participating in IFR programs must weigh whether the potential risk is worth the value of education provided. While risk is inherent in everything we do, we do not take risk lightly. The IFR engages in intensive review of each field school location prior to approval. Once a program is accepted, the IFR reviews each program annually to make sure it complies with all our standards and policies, including student safety.

Students attending IFR international programs are covered by a comprehensive Health Insurance policy that includes physical illness or injury, mental or chronic conditions. No deductible and 100% of costs are covered up to $250,000. In addition, we provide Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation policy, which allow us to remove students from field school location if local conditions change. Our field school directors are scholars that know field school locations and cultures well and are plugged in into local communities and state institution structures.

Students attending IFR domestic programs (within the US) must have their own health insurance and provide proof upon enrollment. IFR field school directors are familiar with local authorities and if in need of evacuation, local emergency services and/or law enforcement will be notified and activated.

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

Call (877-839-4374) or email ( if you have questions about the safety of any particular program.