Dr Bisserka Gaydarska
Bisserka received her first two degrees in Archaeology (BA and MA) in Sofia University and came to do a PhD at Durham University in 1999. The thesis on “Landscape, Material Culture and Society in South East Bulgaria” was completed in 2003. Since then, she has been engaged with two post-doctoral studies financed by the British Academy and various other desk-based or fieldwork projects. During the study in her home country of Bulgaria, she has gained wide experience of excavations and field survey that was further developed during the stay in England together with mastering skills in GIS applications in archaeology and developing methodological skills in artifact biography and refitting studies. This experience has involved Bisserka in several inter-disciplinary studies, excavations and museum studies in Bulgaria and other parts of Eastern Europe that she continues to do in present.
Biography of artifacts Group
Palaeo-diet, AMS dating and sourcing of a series of skeletons from the Varna and Durankulak cemeteries. Famous for their gold (Varna) and size (Durankulak – 1204 graves from the Neo/Chalcolithic), both cemeteries had few (Durankulak) or no (Varna) absolute dates until our research and neither had any isotopic dietary data. The first group of dates for each cemetery has been published, as well as a large group of dietary analyses from Durankulak. Funding has been agreed for an additional 50 AMS dates for Varna, which would make it one of the best-dated cemeteries in prehistoric Europe
Prehistoric exploitation of salt in Bulgaria required substantial new work to overcome the assumption that anyone needing salt could simply collect salt water from the Black Sea. Thus, research has focused on three aspects:- the sources of salt; prehistoric settlement near the sources; and the identification of pottery connected to salt exploitation.
Fragmentation analysis is one of the recent approaches to material culture, which seeks to bridge the gap between the overwhelmingly fragmentary nature of the majority of archaeological materials and the paucity of well-grounded explanations for corresponding social practices. Recent British Academy-funded post-doc research enabled the study of 4 major museum collections – Spondylus bracelets from the Varna and Durankulak cemeteries and the Dimini settlement, as well as anthropomorphic figurines from the multilayer site near Dolnoslav. Preliminary results show a high degree of fragmentation of the objects, with their missing parts deposited mainly off-site.
The Forest of Stones Project is concerned with an inter-faith problem of Islamic archaeology in Europe. Both Christians and Muslims in Bulgaria have used undressed menhirs (megaliths) as paired or single gravestones in cemeteries during and after the Ottoman period. Reaching 3m in height, these menhirs comprise major monuments in the landscape, sometimes totaling over 2,000 stones at a single complex. A car-survey of village cemeteries, completed in 2007, provides the time-space coordinates of over 500 cemeteries which include megalithic gravestones. Publication of this neglected class of monuments is currently under negotiation with Oxford University Press, with monograph publication envisaged for 2009.
Material culture and artifact biographies at Orlovo concerns an outstandingly rich and varied surface collection of polished stone display axes, figurines and personal ornaments dating to the Neolithic and Copper Age of South East Bulgaria. The interpretative narrative seeks to combine new approaches to exotic exchange and artifact biographies, despite the limitations of an unstratified collection. The deliverable will be a monograph ready in late 2008 / early 2009.
Department of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology
- Material culture studies (fragmentation, artifact biography)
- GIS and Landscape Archaeology
- Prehistory of Central and South Europe
- Interdisciplinary studies
- Gaydarska, B. (2007). Landscape, Material Culture and Society in Prehistoric South East Bulgaria. Oxford: Archaeopress.
- Chapman, J. & Gaydarska, B. (2006). Parts and wholes: fragmentation in prehistoric context. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
- Gaydarska, B., Chapman, J., Raduntcheva, A. & Koleva, B. (2007), The châine opératoire approach to prehistoric figurines: an example from Dolnoslav, Bulgaria, in Renfrew, C. & Morley, I. eds, McDonald Institute Monographs Image and Imagination. McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge, 171-184.
Edited works: conference proceedings
- Gaydarska, B. (2004). GIS approaches to settlement pattern studies in Thrace. Prehistoric Thrace, Stara Zagora, Bulgaria.
Edited works: contributions
- Gaydarska, B., Chapman, J. & Angelova, I. (2005). On the tell and off the tell: the fired clay figurines from Omurtag. In Scripta praehistorica M. Petrescu-Dîmboviţa Festschrift. Monah, D. et al. 341 – 385.
- Gaydarska, B. (2005). Prehistoric Drama and its regional context. In Stephanos Archaeologicos in honorem Professoris Ludmilli Getov. Stoyanov, T., Angelova, S. & Lozanov, I. Sofia: Sofia University Press. 116 – 133.
- Chapman, J. & Gaydarska, B. (2003). The provision of salt to Tripolye mega-sites. In Tripolye settlements-giants. Korvin-Piotrovsky, A., Kruts, V. & Rizhov, S. M. (eds.) Kiev: Institute of Archaeology. 203 - 211.
Journal papers: academic
- Higham, T. Chapman, J., Gaydarska, B., Slavchev, V., Honch, N., Yordanov, Y. & Dimitrova, B. (2007). New perspectives on the Varna cemetery (Bulgaria) – AMS dates and social implications. Antiquity 81 640 – 654.
- Kostov, R., Chapman, J., Gaydarska, B., Petrov, I. & Raduntcheva, A. (2007). Turquoise – archaeomineralogical evidences from the Orlovo prehistoric site (Haskovo District, Southern Bulgaria). Geologia i Mineralni Resursi 7-8: 17 – 22.
- Honch, N., Higham, T., Chapman, J., Gaydarska, B. & Hedges, R. E. M. (2006). A palaeodietary investigation of carbon (13C/12C) and nitrogen (15N/14N) in human and faunal bones from the Copper Age cemeteries of Varna I and Durankulak, Bulgaria. Journal of Archaeological Science 33 1493 – 1504.
- Gaydarska, B., Chapman, J. C., Angelova, I., Gurova, M. & Yanev, S. (2004). Breaking, Making and Trading the Omurtag Eneolithic Spondylus Hoard No 2. Archaeologia Bulgarica VIII: 11-34.
- Gaydarska,B. (2004). Preliminary Research on Prehistoric Salt Exploitation in Bulgaria. Dobrudzha 21: 110-122.
- Gaydarska, B. (2003). Application of GIS in Settlement Archaeology An Integrated Approach to Prehistoric Subsistence Strategies. Tripolian Settlement Giants -: 212-216.
- Gaydarska, B., Chapman, J. , Magyari, E. Tsonev, Ts. Goslar, T. & & Bozhilova, E. (2003). The human impact of later prehistoric communities in the Balkans: inter-disciplinary studies in Bulgaria. Archaeological Reports for 2001/2002 12 – 18.