Medieval Church Frescoes of Western Bulgaria
We have not yet received information about 2012 excavations at this site. For more information, please contact the excavation organizers directly using the information below, at right.

Preserving Medieval Frescoes

Join archaeologists, art historians and conservators as they document the beautiful but rapidly deteriorating frescoes from medieval churches in western Bulgaria. The team will visit as many as five long-abandoned chapels and small churches in the region, nearly all dating from the 10th to 17th centuries A.D.

Biblical Archaeology: From the Ground Down

How does a dig team work? What do archaeologists look for at a dig? In this documentary DVD, learn how excavators work and what we can learn from archaeology. More information.

The churches were originally commissioned by both Bulgarian and foreign dignitaries at various points during Bulgarian, Byzantine, and then Serbian rule over the region. Most were abandoned or destroyed during the early Ottoman period. Although the churches themselves were typically poorly built with little attention to architectural details, they often hide exquisite frescoes depicting important Biblical episodes and figures. Because western Bulgaria is situated at the heart of the Balkan region, the frescoes also reveal a great deal about where the various medieval artistic styles of the region originated and how they spread.
Unfortunately, centuries of neglect and exposure to the elements have taken their toll on these important relics of medieval art. The project, coordinated by the National Academy of Art in Sofia, hopes to photograph, document, and study the church frescoes before it is too late. Participants will receive specialized training in the medieval history of the region and fresco restoration and conservation techniques.

Ivan Vasilev

Team leader Ivan Vasilev is a Bulgarian archaeologist and has had extensive experience coordinating cultural heritage management teams.

Nayden Prahov

Team leader Nayden Prahov is a Bulgarian archaeologist and has had extensive experience coordinating cultural heritage management teams.

Dig Directors

Ivan Vasilev
Nayden Prahov

Geographic Location

Western Bulgaria (within 60 miles of Sofia)

Periods of Occupation

Medieval, Ottoman

Dates of the Dig

Session 1: May 9-23, 2009
Session 2: October 3-17, 2009

Minimum Stay

Two weeks

Application Due

Session 1: April 15, 2009
Session 2: August 15, 2009



Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Yes, National Arts Academy (Bulgaria), contact for details


Lodging in Sofia


Balkan Heritage Field School

Open for tours

Yes (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)