Lost Churches Project:
Medieval Cemetery Funerary Excavation
Valeni, Harghita County,
June 9 - July 6 / July 7 - August 03, 2024
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 chartered 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, as well as all meals during weekends. Beware that Romanian cuisine is meat oriented, but we can accommodate vegetarian dietary requirements. However, we are unable to offer a vegan or gluten-free option.
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$ 2695 per each 4-week session
Team size: Funerary/Ossuary Excavation: 18-21 participants
The fee is for each individual session. It includes a $695 non refundable registration fees, room and board as described above, lectures, training, most gear, site access, museum clearance. If you register before March 1st, 2023, you are expected to pay the $695 non-refundable portion of the fees, as well as any accessory fees (such as weekend field trips and chartered bus ride to our hotel from the airport and return) within 21 days after being accepted to the program. The remainder of the fees are to be paid in full no later than April 30, 2024. No refund will be considered after March 14, 2024.
The program fees do not include the trip to and from Romania. Participants must arrange their own travel to and from Romania, and health/travel insurance. Participants who are not taking the chartered bus from the airport to our hotel (and back) are responsible to get to our base on their own (instructions will be provided with the travel kit in March 2024). Participants are responsible for their own lunches Mon-Fri, as well as all meals during weekends.
The project itself is museum based and, as a result, ArchaeoTek / BioArch Canada does not offer credits directly. However, 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 academic credit through USF, you need to fill out first our on-line application form. Only after you receive confirmation of acceptance from us, you will be able to apply for credit directly to USF.
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.
Covid-19 vaccination is required to be allowed to participate to the program. If at any time, you test positive for COVID-19 while in Romania, it is strictly the responsibility of the participant to fulfill all the conditions required by law by the host country at their own expense.
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 have (and will) ensured that our projects are safe for both participants and hosts. Full Covid-19 vaccination is required for all participants and staff.
In terms of physical safety, 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, Roma problems, street kids, etc., happen south of the Carpathians.
The war in Ukraine poses absolutely no threat to the security and safety of our program participants in Transylvania (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/romania-travel-advisory.html).
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 (https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiktZCitff6AhWXEFkFHSebDTYQFnoECBEQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.visionofhumanity.org%2Fresources%2Fglobal-terrorism-index-2022%2F&usg=AOvVaw2Cx19ZQ-Hd_piirxRJvWoT), 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). 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. Common sense will keep anyone perfectly safe in Transylvania.
The simplest (and cheapest) way to get to our base is to fly into Bucharest airport (International Airport Henry Coanda, in Otopeni) on Saturday (June 8 or July 6, 2024), and spend the night in the Hilton Garden Inn Bucharest Airport (it is a 5min walk from the airport). We will pick up everyone who bought a ticket on Sunday (June 9 or July 7, 2024) morning at 10AM in the Hilton parking lot and will drive you to our base. The bus ride is, under normal circumstances, 5-6h long. The cost for a one way ticket on our chartered bus is US$125. Although Bucharest (not the airport which is situated in a different town, about 30km from Bucharest) has its charms and a lot has been done to clean the city and make it safer, it is not recommended you venture into it on arrival. If you want to explore it, we strongly recommend you do it at the end of your stay in Romania, when you are more versed with the local realities and better equipped to deal with the city. Also, Bucharest has been and still is Romania's Covid-19 hotspot, so make sure you protect yourselves diligently. We also offer the possibility to book the return on our chartered bus, directly from the hotel to the airport. We leave from our hotel Friday (July 5 or August 2, 2024) evening atround 9PM in order to arrive at the airport before 4AM on Saturday morning so participants can make it on time to the earliest flights (6AM) out of Bucharest. Participants are personally responsible to obtain all the necessary travel documents.
If you want to get to our hotel on your own from the airport (not recommended), you will need to take a train or a taxi from the airport to the main train station in Bucharest (Bucuresti Nord) and then grab several trains to Sighisoara, and the entire ride is about 8h long. There are no direct trains to Odorhei from Bucharest. You will be required to switch trains in Sighisoara (Sighisoara-Odorhei train ride is about 1h30 long). However, keep in mind that 2-3h (or more) delays are considered "normal" in Romania. Once you arrive at the Odorhei train station, you will then have to take a cab to our hotel. The train ride costs around US$55. If you are taking a cab from the airport to the train station, the cost is around US$35, but you run the risk of getting ripped off (which is the case every time you take a taxi in Bucharest as a tourist). From Odorhei train station to our hotel, the cab ride is less than US$10. Do not buy your train tickets online: always buy them at the train station!
Be aware: DO NOT FLY BRITISH AIRWAYS. This past two years, they have shown themselves to be highly unethical and incompetent. They do not refund flights they have cancelled, they will force significant additional costs to reschedule the cancelled flights, and they do not honor their own ticket rules and regulations.
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 (now King) 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.
Because public transportation in Romania is either lacking or is highly unreliable, and due to the COVID-19 situation, for the safety of our participants, our staff and our hosts, we want to ensure our participants get to explore the magic of Transylvania, while being as safe as possible. As a such, we are organizing four weekend day trips, to some amazing sites and museums:
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): Saxon Land: medieval fortified churches (Cata, Homorod, Viscri) and the Rupea Fortress.
Cost: US$250 for both trips or US$135 for each individual trip (the fees include transportation to the site/museum and entrance ticket - photo rights not included)
Day Trip #3 (weekend 2): Dracula's Bran Castle, Rasnov Fortress and Fagaras Castle
Day Trip #4 (weekend 2): Praid Salt Mines (dubbed by our students the "Mines of Moria")
Cost: US$265 for both trips or US$195 Day Trip #3 and $85 for Day Trip # 4 (the fees include transportation to the site/museum and entrance ticket - photo rights not included)