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Disease Confinement in the Adriatic: Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Stanford Archaeology Center plans to offer the Bosnia and Herzegovina field experience in Summer 2024, either in person or remotely. Based on potential Stanford travel restrictions, the Archaeology Center will be making a determination about whether our field experiences will be conducted remotely or in person by early Spring quarter 2024. 

The dates of this field experience offering will be June - July 2024.

Undergraduate Field Experience

This field experience is led by Archaeology Center faculty member Krish Seetah. The summer fieldwork season will be held within close reach of medieval economic superpowers - Dubrovnik & Venice - that controlled the Adriatic Sea. The fieldwork will be undertaken at two sites, Milavići cemetery, and Baljci, a multiperiod burial ground adjacent to a UNESCO-protected medieval stećci burial ground, both with bioarchaeological evidence of disease, located on a former transportation route for slaves from central Bosnia to the coast.

In-Person: In the field, you will learn fundamental archaeological field research skills, such as tool and equipment handling, principles of archaeological excavation, proper recording of the layers and finds (in paper, photographic, and digital form), and artifact management (cataloging, storing and preparation for analyses). The full extent of the excavations will incorporate the concepts and principles of landscape archaeology, using numerous well-established protocols: landscape digital technologies (geophysics, a series of GIS analyses, UAV rendered maps, 3D models of the tombstones), training in epigraphy, geomorphology, in human and animal osteology and the varieties of sampling for further micro-archaeological analyses.

Remote: The non-contact contingency plan for this project will involve students supporting our work to digitize a large and unique repository of burial archives. Students would help to transcribe this historical dataset – containing evidence of the cause of death, age, place of death, etc., - into a searchable database. This would allow us to correlate ecological conditions and demography with transmission profiles over ~100 years, which could then also form the basis for standalone student projects. 

In addition, students will support our team to produce 3-D models of the cemetery locations themselves, which are a rich cultural heritage. This will be based on existing digital imagery and drone aerial footage, which will then be used for virtual reality expositions (we have a VR expert as part of our team). Students may also work on several smaller sub-projects, including digitization of excavation documents, modeling of artifacts and human remains from within the graves themselves, and large-scale GIS mapping of our sites.

What Will You Do

  • Archaeological Record-Keeping
  • Disease Modeling
  • Archaeological Excavation
  • Cultural Exchange

Requirements for Participation

  • Students accepted to our field experiences are required to participate in pre-departure meetings with the faculty leader of their program in the quarter prior to departure. Each field experience has different pre-departure requirements that will be communicated by the faculty leader. 
  • Upon their return to Stanford, the Archaeology Center requires that all field experience students participate in SURPS (Symposia for Undergraduate Research and Public Service). Students from each field experience are expected to work together to complete an application, prepare a poster, and present at the SURPS event on the Friday of the reunion homecoming weekend.
  • Each of our field experiences is part of an ongoing research project led by a Stanford faculty member. While in the field, undergraduates are expected to contribute to the team effort of the archaeological project at the faculty member's direction. Fieldwork can take the form of a number of different activities, from clearing undergrowth in preparation for excavation to laboratory analysis of archaeological samples. Each day's activities can look different, and may change depending on the evolving direction of the research. Students participating in a field experience should be prepared to be flexible and responsive to the instructions of the faculty member or other senior project staff.

Application Information

  • This field experience opportunity is open to all undergraduates except graduating seniors.
  • Undergraduates from all majors are encouraged to apply.
  • No prior knowledge of archaeology is required, although we prefer to support students who will pursue an archaeology-centered career. All necessary training will be provided while in the field.
  • Applicants will need an updated passport by the time of acceptance
  • Acceptance to the Bosnia and Herzegovina field experience comes with funding for eligible expenses subject to the budget of the project. Housing, daily meals, and materials used on-site will be fully covered by the project. The Archaeology Center will issue a stipend to students to purchase flights based on the real costs of flights to and from their field site. Students will be informed of the stipend limit prior to booking. Per university policy, the Archaeology Center does not pay for personal travel outside the dates or locations of field experiences. 
  • If the Bosnia and Herzegovina archaeology field experience is run remotely, accepted students will receive stipends from VPUE. Stipend amounts will be determined by VPUE and communicated to students when they are accepted to the field experience.
  • Students who plan to participate in an archaeology field experience cannot receive a major grant or a Chappell-Lougee scholarship within the same academic year as their field experience.

Learn more about general field experience opportunities with the Stanford Archaeology Center.

Applications for 2024 are open and will close on March 1, 2024. Read more about the opportunity and apply here!