Lost Churches Project
Medieval Cemetery Funerary Excavation
Ossuary Excavation and Commingled Remains Laboratory Workshop
Valeni, Harghita County,
June 7 - July 4 / July 5 - August 1, 2020
Room and Board
Logistics and Housing
Students and volunteers will be housed in Odorheiu Secuiesc, a small and beautiful city, rich in history and culture. It is cosmopolitan town, situated in central Transylvania, on the historical divide between the Szekely Country to the East into the Carpathians Mountains and the more Romanian and Saxon Transylvania to the South and West into the lowlands.
Students and volunteers will be housed in double or triple occupancy rooms within 45min walking distance from downtown Odorheiu Secuiesc (or a 10min cab ride). A bus will be rented to take us into the field and back daily.
Breakfast and dinner will be served Mon-Fri in the hotel restaurant. Participants will sample a variety of amazing home cooked Romanian and Szekler traditional meals. Students and volunteers are responsible for their own lunches in the field. Beware that Romanian cuisine is meat oriented, but we can accommodate vegetarian dietary requirements. There are plenty of small stores, supermarkets, farmer markets, where you can purchase fresh cheese, various meat products, garden vegetables, bread, drinks, and anything else you might need.
Odorheiu Secuiesc provides all the amenities of a small European city, which includes hospitals an international bus station, train station, and all the stores you might need.
Field Program Costs (non-credit): US$ 2495 per each session
The fee is for each full individual sessions. It includes a $495 non refundable registration, program costs, fees, room and board as described above. The project itself is museum based and, as a result, ArchaeoTek does not offer credits directly. For either session of the program (for either the Cemetery Excavation or the Ossuary Excavation/Commingled Remains Workshop), 3-6 undergraduate (graduate-if applicable) credits can be earned through University of South Florida. USF specific deadlines and additional credit fees apply.
To apply, for either credit and non credit positions, you need to fill out first our on-line application form.
After finalizing the ArchaeoTek registration, participants who wish to obtain academic credit need to register through USF, and follow USF specific procedures.
For non-credit participants, to secure the position on project, we require the entire project fee to be paid in full within 21 days after being accepted to the program. No refund will be considered after March 14, 2020.
Funerary Excavation: 18-21 participants
Commingled Remains/Ossuary Excavation: 8-12 participants
The registration cost does not include the trip to and from Romania. Participants must arrange their own travel and health insurance. Participants are responsible for their own lunches.
Credit participants are required to take our chartered bus from Budapest directly to our base in Odorheiu Secuiesc. The rest of our participants have the option of taking the chartered bus or arrange their own arrival to our hotel. The chartered bus ticket costs US$ 100 one way.
At the present time, no entry visa is required for Romania for up to 12 weeks for EU, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand citizens.
Getting There: Travel and Safety
In light of recent global events, questions of safety are on everyone’s mind. Romania is safe and Transylvania as a whole is very safe. Most crimes in Romania take the form of petty theft or corruption. Very few violent crimes have occurred in the country. Most of the problems and crimes that are exposed in the media: poverty, gypsy problems, street kids, etc., – happen south of the Carpathian Mountains, mainly around Bucharest and Craiova.
There is no terrorist threat whatsoever in regards to Romania. Romania is a country with the lowest terrorism risk in the world - for references, check: Global Terrorism Index (http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Global-Terrorism-Index-2016.2.pdf) and Global Peace Index (http://economicsandpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/GPI-2016-Report_2.pdf). Also, have a look at the Department of State specific Romania page for more information: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/romania.html . Statistically speaking, as far as crime (and terrorist threats) are concerned, you will be safer in Transylvania than in any major city in the US (for reference on comparative crime rates, see https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp). Also, the current migrants/refugees are really not interested in Romania (poor social safety net and low average salaries) and Romania is only accepting a symbolic number of refugees (less than 4000 in 2016). Since Romania was one of the last countries to join the EU, it still has active borders and it controls transit in and out of the country.
We recommend you land in Budapest rather than Bucharest. From Budapest, the best option to get to our base is the project chartered bus, leaving from downtown Budapest, usually from the US Embassy,Sunday (June 2 and June 30) morning, and taking you straight to our hotel in Odorheiu. It is by far the easiest and safest method to travel. The cost is US$100 one way (we also offer a bus return option to Budapest the last Friday evening of each session). Credit students are required to land in Budapest and take the chartered bus to our hotel and back.
If you are a non-credit participant and you want to travel on your own, you will need to make your way to Sighisoara. From there, you can either take a train - if available - to Odorheiu Secuiesc (it takes about 1h40min; train ticket around US$10) and then a cab to our hotel (15min ride; cost around US$5), or take a cab directly from the train station in Sighisoara to our hotel (1h15min ride; cost US$65-85).
In 2018 (summer 2019 schedules are not available yet), there was only one direct train to Sighisoara from Budapest, arriving very early in the morning. There are several indirect trains, but because of the unreliable connections, you might need to spend the night in Sibiu (recommended) or Brasov, and take the train the next day to Sighisoara. The return trip Budapest-Sighisoara (direct) train ticket is around US$150 for an overnight sleeper and the ride lasts 12-14h one way (expect delays).
If you choose to land in Bucharest, although it is a cheaper option, the city is far from having the same appeal as Budapest, and it is not as safe, especially for first time travelers. We recommend you take immediately the train to Brasov or Sighisoara. If you can't catch one of the two direct trains to Sighisoara, you will most likely have to spend the night in Brasov and get a train for Sighisoara the next day. The cab to the train station in Bucharest is around US$30 and the return direct train ticket to Sighisoara is around US$60. The ride Bucharest-Sighisoara is around 6-8h long.
If you choose to land in Bucharest, the best option (we strongly recommend it) is to get a taxi straight from the airport to our hotel in Odorheiu Secuiesc. For six years now, we have been using a private driving company that provides very professional and reliable services (always on time, waiting for you if the plane is late, always getting you where you need to go, no surprises). The cost, one way, is around US$150 per person for a one person ride, US$100 per person for a two person ride, and $75 per person for a three person ride. Under normal road conditions, it takes about 4h to get to our hotel from Bucharest Airport.
Another option, significantly more expensive if you are traveling from North America, is to land in Targu Mures, Cluj, Arad, Timisoara, or Sibiu (there are daily flights from England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Hungary to most of these cities – check, among other sites, www.lufthansa.com, www.austrianair.com, www.carpatair.ro, www.tarom.ro, etc.; Wizz Air, , might offer a significantly cheaper flight, but your options are severely reduced). You will most likely have to spend the night in the city where you land and take the train (if available) to Sighisoara next day. The closest train ride to Sighisoara is around 4-6h, when direct trains are available. The other option is to take a taxi from the airport to our hotel. The cheapest ride in the past, from the closest airport (i.e. Targu Mures), was around US$ 150 one way.
Except for those using our chartered bus (Budapest pick up), all participants are personally responsible for their own travel arrangement to our hotel in Odorheiu Secuiesc.
A more specific, detailed "travel kit", with train schedules, a guide to food and drinks, an overall list of what to bring, etc will be sent to all team members in March. Meanwhile, you can explore the participants' blogs from various ArchaeoTek past projects and visit our Facebook Community page where they have shared thousands of pics.
To sum up:
1. Strongly advised to land in Budapest, not Bucharest.
2. Shop (i.e. check multiple travel sites, including the airlines website) on-line for tickets.
3. Make sure you have enough time between connecting flights (i.e. minimum 2h is good under normal circumstances).
4. Don't fly over war zones or with questionable airlines.
5. Flight prices as such don't change much with time, but the cheap seats are sold faster.
Transylvania is an amazing, magical place and it is really worth exploring. Odorheiu Secuiesc, our base, is situated in central-eastern Transylvania, close to the heartland of the Szekely Land. The whole region is a country of immense natural beauty and extraordinary history. Surrounded by natural springs such as the bubbly water pools of Miercurea Ciuc, Tusnad and Borsec, not far from the beautiful volcanic lake of Saint Anna and the amazing salt mines of Praid (an extraordinary Mines of Moria lookalike), the Odorheiu Secuiesc area is bordering the historic Saxon Transylvanian lands with its castles and fortified churches.
The birth place of Dracula, the medieval city of Sighisoara is only a short train ride away. Not far from there, we have the fortified churches of Viscri and Messendorf, renovated with the support of Prince Charles and the Rupea and Racos castles. Of course, no visit to Transylvania is complete without a trip to the beautiful city of Brasov and its amazing surroundings, Rasnov Fortress, Peles Castle and, to top it off, Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Bran Castle.
One of the most important downsides of sightseeing in Romania is that public transportation, train or bus, is rather chaotic, hence very unreliable. It takes a lot of time to move around the country, as a result, weekend traveling is complicated and expensive, both in time and money, to organize. For that reason, and at the request of our participants, we are organizing every year 3 field trips:
a day trip tour (optional) of some beautiful Saxon fortified churches (Cata, Homorod, Viscri) and the Rupea Fortress (cost: US$100 - transportation and monument entrance fees included)
a weekend trip (optional) to Brasov (cost: US60 - transportation only); from there. participants can arrange with local tour providers to visit Bran Castle, the amazing Peles Castle (summer residence of the Romanian kings), Rasnov Fortress, or Dracula's real castle at Poenari - as part of a tour, the first three castles can be visited in one day; getting to Poenari castle and back also takes a full day
a day trip (mandatory, hence free) around Szekely Land to some of the Lost Churches sites, the Jesus Chapel (the oldest medieval monument around Odorheiu), and the ethnographic museum in Cristuru Secuiesc.