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.

Help Solve a Byzantine Cold Case

Just over 80 years ago, the Bulgarian archaeologist Karel Schkorpil began excavating the site of Varna (ancient Odessos) on the western coast of the Black Sea. On a hill not far from the main site, Schkorpil discovered what he believed to be a unique early Christian monastery of the 6th century. The Byzantine-era building was decorated with distinctive marble revetments, colorful mosaics, and contained three reliquaries made of gold and precious stones.

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.

Unfortunately, nearly all documentation of Schkorpil’s excavation and its findings were lost while being transported to the U.S. for publication. Only his personal accounts and some brief articles have survived to tell the story of what was originally uncovered at the site.
Now, an archaeological team headed by Dr. Alexander Minchev of the Varna Regional History Museum has returned to the site to try to answer some lingering questions. Was the site that Schkorpil discovered even a church at all? If it was a church, was it part of a larger monastic compound? And what was the role of this structure for the early Christian community at Odessos?
In addition to helping answer these questions, dig participants will attend regular lectures on archaeological methods and Byzantine archaeology. There will also be opportunities to travel to other sites around the Black Sea region. Volunteers will stay two to three to a room in a comfortable, air-conditioned hotel in Varna.

Alexander Minchev

Dr. Alexander Minchev of the Varna Regional History Museum directs the Varna excavations.

Dig Directors

Alexander Minchev

Geographic Location

Djanavar Hill 5 miles south of Varna

Periods of Occupation


Dates of the Dig

July 4-18, 2009

Minimum Stay

Two weeks

Application Due

June 1, 2009



Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

No (but students receive field school certificate)


Hotel in center of Varna


Balkan Heritage Field School

Open for tours

Contact dig