Lost Churches Project

Living and Dying on the Edge of Europe

Medieval Funerary Excavation

2014 (Session 1 and 2) Evaluation

1. Did the project staff provide you with enough information beforehand to organize your packing for and travel to the project?


Strongly agree: 6

Agree: 16

Somewhat agree: 2

Disagree: 1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  25 answers / 29 students



  • I think it was a good start but everything really should have been expanded for session 2. Annie's list was pretty basic and was missing several items and Andre's "kit" really should include information about the laundry situation, what side trips we would be going on, and things like that so people can adequately prepare instead of just being told all of that like 2 days before each trip with little to no time to prepare.

  • it would have been nice to have a list of what not and what to bring, like can't wear shorts in the field

  • It would've helped if a packing list was provided. We were told to pack things in multiple different messages/posts but it wasn't very organized and I didn't end up needing some of the stuff I needed.

  • It was a little unclear about what tools, besides a trowel, we should bring.

  • A suggested packing list would be helpful.

  • I found having knee pads and rain pants very helpful, so maybe suggest those on the list.

  • A more detailed suggestion list would be more helpful 1 or 2 months in advance instead of 2 weeks before people started arriving.


STAFF COMMENTS: Please note that the “Travel Kit” we provided mid-March (that is more than 2 months before the beginning of the excavation) is not meant as an exhaustive instruction manual. It is primarily meant to provide general information about the daily aspects of the project and, more important, to make sure our participants are safe. This means that the “Travel Kit” focuses primarily on how to get everyone safe and sound to the project, what to (or not to) eat and drink, how to handle the new social and cultural contexts participants are immersed during their travels and stay in Transylvania. Second, it provides information on daily activities and various local details regarding the weather, site, safety and excavation rules, field and lab dynamics, housing, etc., which – we hope – gives our participants enough information to be able to figure out what their specific and individual needs would be and prepare accordingly. Also, there is a project specific Facebook page where this information is exchanged and questions answered. And please remember that the field directors are always available to answer your questions.



2. Was the pickup arrangement made prior to the project adequately seen to by project staff?


Strongly agree:  14

Agree:  14

Somewhat agree:  1

Disagree:  0

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • Everyone was pleasantly on time and the convenience of the bus was amazing.

  • The actual pickup from Sighisoara was fine, but there wasn't great communication with the staff while we were in Budapest.

  • Not their fault all trains in Romania are late



3. Were the living accommodations provided by the project adequate for your needs?


Strongly agree:  26

Agree:  3

Somewhat agree:  0

Disagree:  0

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • The Hotel Panzio is really an awesome place to stay. The pillows might be a bit useless and flat but everything else is convenient and the food is amaaaaazing.

  • Amazing hotel!

  • I absolutely loved the hotel and staff. It is a very beautiful place that makes me not want to leave.

  • The hotel is beautiful! great food, great rooms.

  • The Hinto Panzió was amazing! Great food, great staff

  • Hinto's the best

  • loved the staff, room, and general atmosphere of the Hinto!

  • I loved the Hinto! Way nicer than the Hotel Tranzit for the last program.

  • I loved the staf at the hinto. They did so much for us and if it wasn't for them we would have had a hardes time out in the field.nthey made it way more easier for us to do our work.

  • Very nice! The staff was very helpful and the hotel was well kept.

  • Hinto heaven!

  • Hinto is fabulous



4. The meals provided by the project were adequate for your needs.


Strongly agree:  25

Agree:  3

Somewhat agree:  1

Disagree:  0

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • Amaaaaazing

  • Great food!!

  • Hinto Panzió food was great

  • Meat and potatoes every night got a little reduntant

  • Hinto dinner = most delicious

  • They were amazing.

  • The Hinto dinners will never be forgotten!



5. Did you encounter any problems with logistics, food, or travel?


YES: 3

NO: 26

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • If trips are provided for us we really need a translator. Its awesome that Andre helped to get us a bus and everything for Brasov but it doesn't do much good if the bus driver refuses to listen to directions and gets lost multiple times losing everyone time and money. I'll bring up the fact that we really should have known about side trip options ahead of time as well now, because between the two it was well over $200US and that can be just impossible for some people to participate, even if they wanted to, ahead of time if they don't know to have that extra money since they'd be going with a group not just kinda trekking it on their own.

  • One of the field trips we had it didn't seem very put together.

  • The accomodations organized for us in brasov were DEPLORABLE, so unsafe, and, worst of all, our leadership took off and left us with no knowledge of where we were going or anything at all. Unacceptable


STAFF COMMENTS: Please note that only one field trip is organized by the project and, because it is mandatory and part of the overall learning experience, it is free. The other trips are not part of ArchaeoTek’s projects. At the request of the students (and because it would be much more difficult and significantly more expensive for our participants to do it on their own), we arrange weekend transportation (and only transportation) to the various cities, castles and other amazing places Transylvania has to offer. Since these side trips are not part of ArchaeoTek’s programs, the staff is not required (or expected) to accompany the participants on their travels. The usual accommodations (and at the request of our participants, the cheapest) for these kinds of trips, in Brasov, are at the Rollling Stones Hostel, situated very conveniently near downtown Brasov. We have used this hostel for the past 10 years without any incidents. All the public areas of the hostel are constantly monitored by cameras and they have night guards. It is very safe. Of course, for anyone who does not like the cheap dorm arrangements, the hostel has private rooms for rent (however, they are significantly more expensive – also, keep in mind it is peak tourist season). And, of course, except for the free ArchaeoTek field trip, these trips are by no means mandatory.



6. The instructions provided by the project staff in the field were clear and helpful.


Strongly agree:  10

Agree:  13

Somewhat agree:  5

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • Allysha (the field director) - Yes, by far and large. (Strongly Agree); Annie (the junior field assistant) - She seems to know what she's doing when she's in a trench but she's fairly terrible at giving directions and actually listening to the student she's talking to. While she may be an adequate archaeologist to hire as an employee as a field participant, she's honestly no where near ready to be a leader or field assistant in a capacity where she also has to be a teacher. (Disagree)

  • Sometimes there were differences between what the instructors wanted, as far as the forms went.

  • As a rookie, I would have liked to have been told what to do the first few days

  • Allysha, Annie, and Zsolt were amazing. They were always there to answer questions, give direction, and do small things like finding a small paint brush. I did not know how to excavate before the program, but now I have great techniques from all 3.

  • Generally are, but sometimes a great deal of extra explications

  • Allysha is very helpful/informative, if usually busy; Annie was awesome and very willing to work with us as much as we needed.

  • While I understand that sometimes in the field things have to be learned simply by doing them, I felt in the beginning especially I would have appreciated some in-the-trench technique demonstration rather than just instruction from above

  • Directions were often contradictory - the leadership disagreed with one another and there was a large degree of trial by fire. Without ANY previous experience in archaeology it was very difficult to know what was expected

  • Staff worked hard to ensure each participant recieved step-by-step instruction for the excavation. I feel much more confient in my excavation and mapping skills. This makes a great intro course.

  • I liked that the instructions were accompanied by demonstrations and help from the staff for the first few days because it's easier to do something once it's been seen instead of just going at it.



7. The project staff offered you a thorough theoretical understanding of the methods being employed.


Strongly agree:  10

Agree:  10

Somewhat agree:  7

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 1

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • The mapping portion of the whole dig (not the individual burials) was not explained, and it would have been helpful to know what happens on a dig from start to finish, like a lecture on dig procedures instead of just going out into the field and taking a few weeks to get everything organized

  • I would have preferred a general and more in depth explication of each method before using them. It is important to learn by doing, but a little more preparation would have had helped a lot.

  • The lectures and instruction combined were super informative and helpful!

  • As a field experience, I did not expect any theory, and we didn't really discuss the theoretical basis of troweling

  • The lectures had nothing to do with archaeological methods theory, all of the lectures were focused on interpretaton

  • I wouldn't be opposed to more lectures.

  • The lectures provided a solid grasp of the background and an into to some of the questions in archaeology today. Readings were engaging and challanging. and lectures were just plain interesting/fun



8. Your participation in the project offered you a new understanding of archaeological field methods.


Strongly agree:  18

Agree:  9

Somewhat agree:  1

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • Because all of the lectures and instructions were at a basic level, anyone with even minor experience or who had taken any courses on anything talked about was really at a disadvantage beyond CV fodder because there was really nothing to learn from the lectures (except Katie's muscle lecture) as it was all very basic osteology and very basic archaeological theory.



9. You felt actively engaged in all aspects of data collection in the field.


Strongly agree:  13

Agree:  12

Somewhat agree:  3

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  29 answers / 29 students



  • There were some areas where the field forms could be improved, but over all Allysha was very willing to listen to student's ideas and had a firm grip on keeping people engaged and involved.

  • More involvement in multiple burials would be nice to have some experiences in different types of burials

  • The only thing our group didn't get to do was learn how to draw profiles. We got to do everything else.

  • Paperwork was always overseen by a supervisor, and I felt engaged throughout most of the process, but had to ask to see what was done in the final analysis

  • I took part in the excavation, mapping, soil sampling and lifting of 1+ individuals. Much more than expected.

  • For the amount of time we've had, it's been very engaging



10. The time spent in the osteo laboratory (i.e., hands-on experience washing, laying out remains) was worthwhile.


Strongly agree:  7

Agree:  10

Somewhat Agree: 4

Disagree:  5

Strongly disagree: 1

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Washing bones honestly doesn't teach anything. You don't get enough time to actually handle the bones to learn anything about them and while its great to be able to help out, without any learning component added with the washing, its pretty much just washing and you don't learn anything you shouldn't already known (i.e. - that bones are fragile).

  • We did not learn much when we were there, there should be an educational spin on cleaning or else it just feels like were using our time to do their tasks

  • Would have liked a little more.

  • I mostly enjoyed this work, but I'm not really sure what we were supposed to get out of it...

  • Handling bones outside of the field was very valuable because I learned a lot about which bones were which, and how to determine where fragments came from, from my peers who had osteo experience.

  • There was less time offered in the osteo lab than expected and while the open lab was good it would have been nice to have a part of one day a week to spend more time there

  • The open lab sessions during the week were helpful for finishing up data collection for a project started during the Osteology Workshop

  • We only did one day of this.



11. Did you wish for more or less time in the laboratory?


MORE: 11



TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Unless its changed from just washing, there shouldn't be any time in the lab at all. Washing bones is honestly pointless as a learning exercise without further lessons or lectures. So it either needs to be expanded upon or dropped.

  • Adequate time spent in the lab but time should have been better spent learning about the bones, or where the bones were from even because they just sat us down and gave us a box with no explanation

  • I would have liked to have more after lab hours. I wouldn't want it to take away from excavation time.

  • Not much more, but a little. Also a good rainy day option

  • More time spent learning osteology in the lab. less time simply washing bones

  • I would have liked more time laying out and studying remains.

  • More, but not as it would have taken away from field time. I need experience in general

  • I didn't spend any time in the lab. I like being out in the field more.

  • I should have made more of an effort to go to open lab



12. The Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology lectures were informative and useful.


Strongly agree:  11

Agree:  11

Somewhat agree:  3

Disagree:  2

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Allysha's (field director) - Yes, but again they were very college freshman level and since at least half of the people here had at least that level of knowledge something needs to be done to even it out (either alternative readings for those at a more advanced level, or rotating lectures for the people at beginning vs. intermediate experience). Katie's (osteology project assistant) - She goes WAY too fast through her lectures for them to be 100% useful. I learned loads but they were still kinda terrible because she goes so fast (because of her grip of the knowledge) that you can't write even half of what she has on her slides down. She either needs to adhere to the "only present what needs to be written" rule to her slides or she needs to slow down significantly. Annie (junior field assistant) - Back to the fact that she's ready to be in the field and has knowledge, but isn't ready to teach. Her presentation was akin to a sophomore or junior level paper presentation and she needs to stop bringing up things she "isn't sure" about. If you don't know for sure the answer or the reference to something (like she wasn't sure about Peruvian mummies I believe or some such and brought them up) then don't bring it up in what is supposed to be a TEACHING lecture.

  • I loved the lectures. I thought the information coming from them was very useful in the field being able to determine different taphonomy aspects or abnormalities in remains.

  • Allysha's lectures were great and I learned most from those, otherwise some lectures were too specific for novice osteology students

  • Interesting and never boring



13. The Bioarchaeology and Human Osteology lectures were interesting and engaging.


Strongly agree:  12

Agree:  11

Somewhat agree:  1

Disagree:  3

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Comments pretty much the same as above, everything was interesting but they were at such a beginning level that discussions before and after with anyone who was at an intermediate level said they pretty much got nothing new out of it and felt disengaged because it was so repetitive to them.

  • I really enjoyed the topics brought up by the lectures. I almost wish that we had gotten a mini-lecture about the specific area we were digging in with the history of the churches and area.



14. The supplementary materials (i.e., readings) were informative and useful.


Strongly agree:  5

Agree:  15

Somewhat agree:  6

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 1

TOTAL:  28 answers / 29 students



  • Honestly, I don't think most people read all of them or any of them except on the rain day where we just had extra time to do so. Most of them were completely toss aways you typically get at the undergraduate level (except for Taphonomy, which I found more than adequate). Goes back to the fact that either readings need to be handed out at a beginning and intermediate level or something needs to be rethought about the structure of the lectures so that they aren't only worth while to those with no experience or at the freshman/sophomore level of college.

  • Readings were hit-or-miss. As students had a diverse education background, perhaps readings should be assigned based on level of knowledge or made required only for those students that are seeking academic credits.

  • Expecting students to complete readings on things you're going to lecture on anyways is not helpful when we have such limited time. It's extremely difficult to get enough sleep without piling on readings.



15. Did you feel overall intellectually engaged and challenged with your work?


Strongly agree:  9

Agree:  11

Somewhat agree:  3

Disagree:  3

Strongly disagree: 1

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Intellectually? Honestly, no.

  • I definitely felt challenged by doing this field experience, especially because I haven't had osteology or any bone experience before. I felt that I had to pick up the pace on learning all the bones more than others.

  • I wish I had had a better understanding of the context of the project and the region in which we were working. I felt we were put in the field situation without a good understanding of the larger archeological question we were seeking to answer or the cultural context of the burials we were looking at.


STAFF COMMENTS: The entirety of the very well made Museum exhibit (which we visited the first day) dealt with the regional and local context of the Lost Churches Project, both in terms of field and historical situation. The exhibit had detailed maps, extensive explanations (in English), context reconstructions, plenty of visuals and a plethora of artifacts that were excavated  in the course of the project.



16. Was the project staff able to adequately answer all of your questions?


Strongly agree:  11

Agree:  11

Somewhat agree:  4

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Allysha (field director) - Yes. Annie (junior field assistant) - Seemed unsure and unable to answer at least 25-30% of the time and wouldn't just take charge of a situation, listen to the student/volunteer talking to her and give an answer.

  • Not only about archaeology, but about careers too

  • Love them!!!



17. In your interactions, the Romanian staff were informative and helpful.


Strongly agree:  11

Agree:  12

Somewhat agree:  3

Disagree:  1

Strongly disagree: 0

TOTAL:  27 answers / 29 students



  • Besides differences in practice, the Romanian staff was quite helpful and all of them seemed to be knowledgeable and intelligent. Zsolt clearly has a hold on his project and is incredibly read and good at what he does.

  • Zsolt, Zolton, Lajos, and Gyula are all fantastic to work with.

  • Love them

  • The staff was very nice.

  • Enjoyed my interactions with both Dora and Zsolt



18. Would you recommend this project/workshop to your peers?


YES:  22

NO:  0


TOTAL:  25 answers / 29 students



  • I think I'd recommend it to people at a beginner's level or interested in the region but if someone was a grad student or not interested in Romanian, probably not. The project is pretty young as far as Archaeotek's involvement so its no shocker that there are some flaws and kinks to work out, but regardless there are still some flaws and kinks to work out (especially how beginner based it is, when its sold as a "anyone" level opportunity, there's nothing wrong with selling something as experience for beginners in the field and with lectures, but you need to make the non-field work more appealing to those above beginner level).

  • 100%

  • Depends on what their needs and expectations are. This experience was absolutely worthwhile for me intellectually, culturally, and academically and - most importantly - it was in my budget!

  • The price is affordable, student recieves hands-on experience, the field work is an engaging experience and at the for-front of its field. the culture is rich, and their treatments of the dead a unique look at funerary practices. Participants will recieve experience in a wide range of individuals, from neonate to adult, also with various artifacts due to preservation. The group really clicked, allowing us to work together professionally and as peers.



19. Please provide us with your thoughts on what you found most rewarding about your bioarchaeological experience on the project:


  • The chance to excavate completely articulated burials is a rare one at most field schools around the world. The abundance of them here is a unique and worthwhile experience. I felt like I really gained knowledge and skills that will help me to further my education and career in bio archaeology by getting the chance to work with bone from day 1 until the very last day. It wasn't a once-and-done opportunity. Practice makes perfect

  • The chance to undertake every aspect of digging, mapping, lifting

  • Being in the field. We could have ditched all lectures and lab time and I would have come out with just the same bonus of knowledge. Being in the field was amazing and I wish we had better plans for rain days in place rather than to just go wash bones (maybe if there's this many rain days it would be advantageous to look into just buckling down and getting tents for the trenches since the dig is so short and losing 3-5 days is very damaging).

  • I think this project was very challenging, especially to someone who hasn't had any osteology experience. I learned a lot about the human skeleton and how nature acts upon it just by being able to touch real bones pulled from the earth. It's tough being put on the spot when you find a disarticulated piece of bone and need to think about what it is because you don't know off the spot like everyone else and need to include it in your notes.

  • The staff and the site. The site provided so much material that I never felt unproductive, and it was always so rewarding working on a burial. The encouragement and guidance from the staff made working with the material rewarding and educational.

  • Most of the time people were eager and willing to provide help and information to other students who had little to no bioarchaeological experience--with incredible patience no less!!

  • I enjoyed learning the experience in the field. Since this was my first field school I do believe I learned a great deal.

  • Excavating my own burials from start to finish!

  • I enjoyed the lectures and field work. Combined these were informative and provided a strong basis for archeological practises I might engage in, in the future. Overall I thought the field school was a really good learning experience for myself.

  • I had a lot of fun and feel as though I did learn a lot. The hands-on experience was fantastic and I feel like the staff were genuinely dedicated to teaching and helping us. There were a few logistical snafus every now and then, but overall, I'm very glad I did this program.

  • Hands-on experience is invaluable. Zsolt and Allysha both impressed me with their expertise in their particular fields.  Annie was a great asset in the field setting as well, making sure everything was running smoothly, providing encouragement, and teaching me how to use a plumb bob!

  • The fellowship with other students.

  • Having the experience of working directly with bones and becoming personally engaged with the burials that we had been assigned from beginning to end.

  • The opportunity to work so intensivily with human skeletal remains was an amazing experience I would not have been able to find at home,

  • Hands on experience. Applying lab knowledge to the field. The project itself was fantastic.

  • Getting an idea of a future profession, as well as making new friends/contacts in this field

  • I think that this field school helped me to realize the difference between archaeology in the classroom and in the field. In the field, conditions aren't usually what we would like them to be and you have to roll with the punches sometimes. Not everything will be as perfect as you envisioned and instead of getting discouraged you have to remember that every archaeologist faces the same problems. Not being able to tent out site was one problem we had to work around. This made the soil change from either very wet to very dry. I had to learn how to deal with both situations, be adaptable, and make the best of it. That is my biggest takeaway from this experience.

  • Actually being able to work on burials from start to finish and being responsible for paperwork definitely set this program apart from the field school experiences I've heard of from other people. Instead of making us move dirt the entire time we were actually able to do real work.

  • I loved the experience. I can in with very little bio archaeological experience and I feel that I am leaving with so much more skills and confidence.

  • The most rewarding part of the project was actually being able to excavate human remains

  • I thought being able to actually have the opportunity to work with human remains (with such good preservation) was so rewarding and it is not something we get to do in many other field schools.

  • Hands on experience with skeletons in an archaeological context

  • Having field experience excavating human remains is not something readily available in North America, so this field school is a great way to gain skills in bioarch and see some amazingly preserved skeletal remains.

  • I loved our group and we all had so much fun!

  • I loved having hands on experience. Seeing the reality of a burial excavation site. To learn new techniques that I can use in the future.





  • The outstanding success of our 2018 and 2019 GPR projects, the Applied Field Geophysics Workshop - GPR Applications, prompted us to buy a second GPR unit with a different central frequency and a different configuration. As a result, our participants will have the unique opportunity to get fully proficient on a 250MHz GPR system, in a cart configuration, as well as 500MHz system, in a rough terrain configuration.

  • Furthermore, participants who are committed to expand their field skill set can register to our new Geophysics Exploration and Field Excavation program. It is a 4 week program, combining the GPR Applications Workshop (5 days) and  Roman Villa Excavation (3 weeks). Participants save $400 over the combined costs of the individual programs.



Keep a close watch of your state vaccine registration methodology and get an appointment as soon as you have access.



Some good and potentially useful advice to get the vaccine in time to travel:






As we are approaching the summer, it appears that there is some light at the end of the... trowel!!!


The new recommendations from the European Council to lift international travel restrictions are official (https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2021/02/02/covid-19-council-updates-recommendation-on-travel-restrictions-from-third-countries-into-the-eu/ ) and, if the trend continues, both Canada and the US will meet those standards by the end of May (maybe sooner as the vaccination campaign progresses).


Furthermore, Dr. Fauci has indicated that all Americans who want the Covid-19 vaccine will have access to it by April (https://people.com/health/dr-anthony-fauci-coronavirus-vaccine-april-open-season-logistics-several-more-months/ ). If that is the case, both June and July participants could get vaccinated in time for the summer sessions. I strongly recommend you find out what is the procedure in your state and place yourself on the vaccine list as soon as possible.


Although Canada is significantly behind in the vaccination game, it will pick up the pace within the next month or so. It looks like it might be available for participants for the June session. However, it is almost certain participants to the July session will have access to it.


At the present time, a negative PCR test taken 72-48h (depending on destination) is required to board any international flight, it also appears more and more that Covid-19 vaccination will become a condition for unrestricted international travel (https://www.bbc.com/news/explainers-55718553 ). At least one airline has made vaccination mandatory to access their planes - I suspect more will follow. Although it seems that coming from a country with a very low infection rate and having a negative PCR test might be enough for the EU in general, there would be additional restrictions on arrival for specific destinations for individuals who are not vaccinated.

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