Lost Churches Project

Medieval Cemetery Funerary Excavation


Ossuary Excavation and Commingled Remains Laboratory Workshop

​Valeni, Harghita County,

Transylvania, Romania

June 6 - July 3 / July 4 - July 31, 2021

New: August 1 - August 28, 2021


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.


Project Fees


Field Program Costs (non-credit): US$ 2495 per each session

Single Room Supplement: US$ 400 (per 4 week session - optional)


          The fee is for each full individual sessions. It includes a $695 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, 2021.


Team size:

  • Funerary Excavation: 18-21 participants

  • Commingled Remains/Ossuary Excavation: 4-6 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.

          If quarantine is required on arrival due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is strictly the responsibility of the participant to fulfill all the conditions required by law by the host country. We can make the arrangements for a 14 day quarantine (which includes airport pick-up, full room an board) at one of our project facilities, for an additional US$650.


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. In terms of the pandemic, the situation is under control overall, and our prophylactic measures ensure that our projects are safe for both participants and hosts.

          Otherwise, 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 in 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://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/11/GTI-2019web.pdf), and associated reference map (http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/11/GTI-2019-A3-map-posterprint-1.pdf), as well as  Global Peace Index (http://visionofhumanity.org/app/uploads/2019/10/PPR-2019-web.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. 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.

          To minimize the risk of exposure, all participants are required to fly into Bucharest airport (International Airport Henry Coanda, in Otopeni). We will pick up everyone on the first day of the respective sessions (on Sunday morning) and will drive you to our Hotel in Odorheiu Secuiesc. The cost for a one way ticket on our chartered bus is US$100. Arrival charter bus pick up is mandatory, but you can make your own arrangements for your departure (we offer a charter bus airport drop off on the last Saturday of each session). On arrival, it is required you arrive in Bucharest airport the day before pick up and spend the night in one of the numerous hotels in Otopeni, near the airport (they offer a shuttle service). Bucharest (not the airport which is situated in a different town, about 30km from Bucharest) being a COVID-19 hot spot, participants are not allowed to enter the city on arrival.

         We have co-opted an US based travel agent, who has an extensive knowledge of our programs' logistics, schedules and travel requirements. He is not only able to get you a very good price on flights, but also is able to offer full refund CFAR (Cancel for any Reason) insurance on the plane tickets and European health insurance that includes COVID-19 related issues. We include his contact details with the registration package.

          In terms travel arrangements, I urge you exercise caution, as almost all listed flights from the US to Europe do not exist. Flights through Italy and Portugal are especially problematic. Right now, there are a lot of flights that are in the $250-$350 range that go through Rome or Lisbon, but they are all ghost flights and organized in such a way that you would not be able to get cancellation insurance. At the same time, you should currently avoid any flights that would have a layover in Turkey, Ukraine, Russia or North Africa, as they have become dangerously unreliable. I would recommend avoiding as well layovers in Spain, Greece, potentially Poland. The least surprises (and most promptly fixed otherwise) came from flights through the Netherlands (KLM), France (Air France), Switzerland (Swiss Air), Austria (Austrian), and Germany (Lufthansa) - and their respective US affiliates. The UK (British Air) was also a good option, but COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc there, hence the presence of uncomfortable uncertainties. The travel agent will know more on that subject and can help each of you, individually, sort out all of this based on your location and travel plans, removing much of the uncertainty factor.




          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 Rasnov Fortress, Peles Castle and, to top it off, Bram Stoker’s Dracula’s Bran Castle.

Field Trips (mandatory in 2021)

Due to the COVID-19 situation, for the safety of our participants, our staff and our hosts, we will ensure our participants get to explore the magic of Transylvania, while limiting as much as possible the potential of getting infected:

Day Trip #1 (weekend 1): Szekely Land (earliest church in Odorheiu, the Jesus Chapel, ethnographic museum in Cristuru, medieval Szekely "Lost Churches")

Day Trip #2 (weekend 1): medieval Saxon fortified churches (Cata, Homorod, Viscri) and the Rupea Fortress

Day Trip #3 (weekend 2): Dracula's Bran Castle, Rasnov Fortress and Peles Castle

Day Trip #4 (weekend 2): Praid Salt Mines (dubbed by our students the "Mines of Moria")

Total cost for the 4 day trips: US$ 300