The project will be very intensive and consist of two parts – a practical working part and a study part.
The practical working part, which will be at different parts of the site, will last six hours per day. In the evenings and during the weekend, educational and cultural activities will take place.
The project will contribute to the immediate conservation of the archaeological structures of the Early Christian basilica. The works will be carried out in two groups at two separate locations on the site. The first group will work on the synthronon and the second group will work on the base of the chancel screen at the altar. During the project the volunteers will have the opportunity to alternate between the two locations.
The volunteers will be engaged in all levels of the conservation process. During the first week, both groups will be engaged in planning a conservation strategy by recording archaeological structures, surveying architectural elements, and mapping damaged areas. During the second week, both groups will be engaged in implementing the conservation strategy from the previous week. The work will consist of various hands-on tasks such as cleaning and applying repair techniques. At the end, the project will close with activities related to the promotion of the cultural heritage of Palmatis and compiling a documentation report.
Every stage of the project will be preceded by a short theory introduction by the work instructors, who are well-known experts in the field. The educational part of the project will not only provide knowledge about the cultural heritage from the Late Antiquity, but also will provide the opportunity for the volunteers to become acquainted to the region of Dobrudga. It will include a hike to the canyon of the river Suha Reka and a guided tour of the picturesque rock-hewn monasteries nearby. During the project the volunteers will be living in an original Dobrudga village and will get to know the local community who are ancestors of the Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatars are a minority which settled on Bulgarian lands in the 18th and 19th centuries and have managed to preserve their traditions and identity.
ACCOMMODATION: local guesthouse with shared rooms with beds, warm showers, toilets
The meals will be prepared together as they are part of the community life, what means that every participant will be responsible for the meal at least once during its stay. So it would be very nice if the participants could bring typical recipes from home in order to introduce each other to the preparation of food from all over the world.
Palmatis is an Ancient Roman city with a large fortified territory of 225,000 square meters. It is situated near’s village Onogur in North-East Bulgaria, a region known as Dobrudga. Back in old times this was a Roman province called Moesia Secunda. Palmatis occupied a strategic location on a high plain, naturally defended by the branches of the river Suha Reka. Palmatis prospered alongside the important road that went from the city of Durostorum (today’s Silistra, close to Danube river) to the city of Marcianopolis (today’s Devnya, close the Black Sea coast).
During the last three years, the Regional History Museum in Dobrich and the Municipality of Tervel launched a research program on the site of Palmatis. So far, there has been excavated an Early Christian basilica. It has the common three-aisle structure with wide naos flanked by narrow side aisles. Many original elements are luckily preserved, including the base of the altar table, the bases of the baldachin’s columns and the base of the chancel screen that encloses the altar. The whole church is spectacular in size: nearly sixty metres long.
However, the most astonishing part of the basilica is the synthronon. This is a semicircle structure, situated in the central part of the temple that combines the bishop’s throne and seats for the rest of the clergy. The synthronon of Palmatis is, according to the archaeologists’ researches, unusually high – it rises up to two and a half meters above the floor. Three of the nine stone steps of the synthronon have been preserved.
During the excavations many other architectural artifacts have been discovered such as fragments of columns, capitals, and ornate stones. As a safety measure, the most valuable of them have been transferred to the museum in the nearby city of Tervel. The excavation works are still going on and the site is not open to the public. No conservation works have been carried out so far. It appears unspoiled by tourism, hidden, and wondrous.
The history of Open Houses Network dates back to the mid-1980s, when a group of young people started to restore village churches in East Germany in voluntary work to protect them from decay. The engagement for these buildings united people who enjoyed the freedom these activities provided and who filled these rooms with life again in ways which by far exceed the craftsmen’s work done – through exhibitions, concerts, making music together or just sitting by the camp fire.
Meanwhile, rooms free of political and ideological pressure are no longer urgently required; however, places have become rare where people can meet without commercial pressure, free of bureaucracy and institutionalism, free of nepotism and the exclusion which it produces. What should be easy – to go somewhere in order to meet people and to work together – has become difficult. The tightrope walk between, on the one hand, public activities in a monetary and functional sense, and the retreat into private life on the other, is very difficult, and it requires a lot of power and permanent efforts to tackle red tape and financial restrictions.
Free spaces are less and less understood as common property, and are permanently being cut back. The idea of public property seems to have gone out of fashion, and places of common responsible work have become rare.
Open Houses Network tries to create and protect such spaces. In this process, we do not want to be the do-ers, but be people who have a vision, who want to initiate something, but who also are aware of depending on the co-operation of others. We understand our projects and events as offers – as offers to create space for commitment, for changes, for meetings.
In accordance to the above described focus on heritage European Heritage Volunteers, a branch of Open Houses, organises Heritage Projects.
Heritage Projects combine practical work for the preservation or restoration of a cultural or natural heritage site with an extensive educational part that gives the theoretical background for the hands-on works and provides deeper heritage linked knowledge. Heritage Projects focus on traditional handcraft techniques, on the revitalisation of abandoned monuments, on the restoration of historical parks, on the maintenance of cultural landscapes or on other related topics.
Some of the Heritage Projects are organised in the framework of the World Heritage Volunteers initiative. The initiative was launched as a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Education Programme in order to mobilise and involve young people and youth organisations in heritage preservation and promotion. Since 2008 more than 200 projects at more than 100 World Heritage Sites in more than 50 different countries worldwide have been organised, in which more than 3,500 volunteers from over 70 countries have taken part. The European projects of World Heritage Volunteers are coordinated by European Heritage Volunteers.
Furthermore, European Heritage Volunteers initiates, develops, supports and mentors European Heritage Volunteers Partner Projects which are organised by heritage linked non-profit organisations in other European countries.
Read more about Heritage Projects on www.heritagevolunteers.eu.
Motivation letter related to the project and CV + photo required