I started this blog to make Byzantium ‘live’ for people today. Far from being an obscure subject to be left only to dry academic research (which can sometimes be non-inclusive), I have tried to show that Byzantium does live for us and we can see it, feel it and get involved.
Last year I was lucky enough to be involved at ground level when I walked part of the Via Egnatia, the ancient Roman road than runs from Durres in Albania to Istanbul, with Ivan Vasilev and his colleague Nayden Prahov.
They are Bulgarian archaeologists who run practical archaeological field trips in the Balkans through their Balkan Heritage Field School. These field trips are aimed at anyone who has an interest in practical archaeology be they experienced or novice. They offer a chance to do practical work to aid archaeological projects, and for those who participate to have some fun, in a very interesting part of the world, living and working with like-minded people of all backgrounds. The field schools are particularly suitable for archaeology students looking to gain field experience (watch the videos for comments from recent students), but are open to anyone who just wants to participate.
In 2010, The Balkan Heritage Field School is offering you the opportunity to participate in different digs and expeditions connected to the Byzantine culture in Southeastern Europe. Balkan Heritage field school projects are accredited by the New Bulgarian University.
As a unique offer to readers of MyByzantine blog, Balkan Heritage Field School is able to offer a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of the trips if you quote the reference “MyByzantine” when you contact them.
Fresco-Hunting Photo Expedition to medieval and late medieval churches and chapels of Western Bulgaria
This region is one of the few areas in SE Europe where the traditions of all the major Balkan medieval art schools (those in Constantinople, Ohrid, Thessaloniki and Veliko Tarnovo) met. Bulgarian and foreign notables from the Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires, as well as the Serbian Kingdom of the 14th century, and local Bulgarian communities under Ottoman rule (the period between the 15th and 17th centuries) built the churches and chapels to be visited and studied. Many of these monuments, characterized by humble architecture, often hide exquisite frescoes behind their sometimes plain exteriors. Many were abandoned long ago.
The goal of the expedition is to enhance the database created in previous seasons by documenting the frescoes and their condition, as well as history, architecture, artefacts and the environment of the ecclesiastical buildings they belong to.
This project serves as an excellent opportunity for students and volunteers to participate in many aspects of a scientific research program, and to appreciate and enjoy the art as well as the community spirit of the work. The fieldwork will entail database recording, geomagnetic survey, sketching, measuring, and creating a photographic record. Full details of this trip found here.
Find out more about this field trip on the video.
To apply for any of the above courses and receive your 10% reduction, please visit the Balkan Heritage applications page. Don’t forget to quote “myByzantine”.
If any of you do take up the opportunity to participate I am sure we would welcome the chance to hear about your experiences upon your return (or even when out in the field) so do please get in touch with me via the blog tsawford[at]btinternet.com .