A Byzantine cold case file! Join the Byzantine monastery dig at Varna on the Bulgarian Black Sea

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. You can make Byzantium ‘live’ for you today; by taking a holiday on a dig you can see Byzantium, feel it and get involved.

Ivan Vasilev and Nayden Prahov on the Via Egnatia

The digs are run by Ivan Vasilev and 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 and have a holiday in a wonderful part of the world.

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.

Early Byzantine monastery dig in Varna on the Bulgarian Black Sea


The ruins of the 6th century church on Djanavar hill near Varna (ancient Odessos) belong to an Early Christian church of the Syrian type. Its plan is unique in the Balkan Peninsula. The building was probably constructed during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565 AD) and was most likely destroyed during a raid by the Slavs and Avars around 615 AD. Based on its unique architectural plan, scholars believe they can connect this church with the small, but socially and economically important Monophysite community of Syrian refugees living in sixth century Byzantine Odessos.

The church is a basilica with a central nave, terminating in an inner semicircular apse. The baptistery with a cross-shaped pool is incorporated within the northwestern part of the church. Four additional halls, decorated with mosaic floors are attached to the nave and the narthex. Well-preserved mosaics are multicolored with a large range of geometrical and floral motifs.

In the crypt, which is found under the floor of the altar, archaeologists have discovered three reliquaries; one of marble; one made of silver; and the other of gold which is also decorated with precious stones). These have been placed into one another.

During this field school project, participants will work on practical excavations, learning correct excavation and documentation techniques. There will be opportunities for excursions and to meet volunteers from all over the world. Full details of this trip found here.

Watch 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 mention “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 .

About proverbs6to10

Interested in Byzantium and Patrick Leigh Fermor
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