Field-school in Paleoanthropology and Paleolithic Archaeology
Balanica cave complex in Sicevo Gorge (near Niš) and Šalitrena cave, (near Valjevo) in Serbia.
The Balanica (pronounced Balánitza) cave complex consists of two caves: Mala (Small) and Velika (Large) Balanica. The caves are situated at an elevation of 338 m above sea level, approximately 100 m above the Nišava River, with the openings facing SSW across the valley (N43°20.211', E22°05.115'). The hill in which the cave complex is formed belongs to the southern slopes of the Svrljig Mountain chain, formed of Cretaceous and Jurassic limestone in the area where the Rodop Mountains meet the younger chains. The Sicevo gorge is cut through by the Nišava River which provides an important communication between two adjoining river valleys. The caves have so far produced more than 5000 Mousterian artifacts and several hominin remains. A field school for upper level undergraduate and graduate students with previous experience in archaeology and/or human osteology will allow students to get their field experience in a unique and very important project, learn best excavation and documentation practices, participate in the study of paleontological and archaeological material and potentially become long-term members of the team.
Students will spend a week in each of the caves and a week surveying in the vicinity of the Balanica complex. The rotation will allow students to get exposed to as many different problems in cave excavations and Paleolithic prospection as possible in one season. The excavations follow the most up to date standards of Paleolithic excavations: in a unit of 0.25 x 0.25m, excavations will follow natural layers subdivided in no more than 5 cm artificial layers with recording in situ of all artifacts, animal bones, samples, colour changes and rocks larger than 3 cm. Each student will be responsible for excavation, documentation and basic processing of all recovered artifacts, animal and human bones as well as all the samples taken during the excavation in her/his particular area. Up to four students will be supervised by an experienced team member (ETM) and all will be supervised by the Professors and the curator responsible for the project (PIs). The ETMs will be responsible for providing immediate directions, instruction in excavation techniques, and discussions of possible significance of the finds.
Work will be organized in morning sessions for excavations and evening sessions for processing of the material, documentation and lectures.