The Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research
The TFAHR Bylazora Project
Site Map
By Eulah Matthews and William Neidinger
Click on photo to enlarge.
The Texas Foundation for Archaeological & Historical Research was founded in 1985 by a small
group of Texans with a passion for archaeology and a desire to promote and enliven the study
of history in Texas classrooms.  To this end TFAHR has been providing educational
opportunities abroad for Texas teachers and students for more than two decades.  During that
time TFAHR has excavated at thirteen different sites in four countries (France, Israel, Bulgaria,
and the Republic of Macedonia), making available 39
4 positions for teachers, students,
archaeologists, and volunteers on archaeological excavations.

For the 2007 excavation at Vardarski Rid (Gevgelija, Republic of Macedonia) TFAHR
established for the first time the TFAHR International Field School.  The idea was, by posting a
request for applications on the internet, to bring together teachers, students, archaeologists,
and volunteers from all over the world to work together on archaeological and historical
projects.  That year TFAHR sponsored 31 people from nine different countries.  

In January of 2008 Mr. Boban Husenovski, an archaeologist with the Museum of Gevgelija,
relayed an offer from Mr. Aleksander Danev, Director of the People’s Museum of Sveti Nikole, to
Mrs. Eulah Matthews and Dr. William Neidinger of TFAHR.  That offer was for a cooperative
venture to excavate an archaeological site (Bylazora) near Sveti Nikole, in the Republic of
Macedonia.  One of Mr. Danev’s desires was to develop the site as an archaeological training
school for aspiring students and teachers.  This dovetailed nicely with TFAHR’s already
established International Field School.

All too often dig participants are, unfortunately, required to pay exorbitant fees to participate in
an archaeological excavation and are often seen as nothing more than a source of unpaid labor
or as a source of funds for some professor’s archaeological project.  We have heard from
Field school participants breaking topsoil,
and doing fine work with hand tools.
In the five short years of its existence the TFAHR International
Field School has changed dramatically.  Our objective has always
been to enable participants to gain hands-on experience in the
manner in which historical evidence is uncovered, interpreted,
and published.  To that end we try to involve everyone in as
many aspects of the excavation as possible.  All are required to
keep a daily field notebook and, at the end of each week, the
students themselves (with their supervisors) prepare the official
documentation of the site.  Everyone is required to participate in
all aspects of digging, from the heavy drudgery to the fine detail
work.  No one is pushed aside when a discovery is made, so the
“expert” can come in to do the final uncovering.  On some
excavations, once discoveries are made, the finds disappear into
the dark recesses of a museum basement, where only a select
few ever see or study the material; the man-in-the-field, then,
never gets to see the end product of his labor.  But in the TFAHR
International Field School all team members wash the pottery
finds daily and present the afternoon pottery analysis for their
trenches; and many, who show an inclination or talent to do so,
are involved in the restoration and drawing of finds.
One of the more recent developments of TFAHR International Field School has also been
the one of which we are proudest, that is, allowing more participants more authority in the
excavation process.  Veterans from our earlier digs serve as trench supervisors and are
given the responsibility to train new members.  And starting with the 2009 season at
Bylazora we had team members give lectures and conduct workshops in pottery analysis,
field documentation, pottery drawing, and site measurement and drawing.  TFAHR
International Field School members also have contributed to the TFAHR annual reports on
the excavation work.  We make it possible for students and teachers to further their
careers by publishing the results of the team’s work in professional journals, or using it for
term papers or advanced degrees.  Many receive college credit from their own universities
for the work on our digs.

So many have expressed to us their thanks for the opportunities that TFAHR has made
possible for them; we would like to pass those thanks on to those of you who have made
TFAHR’s work possible by your generous donations and contributions.
Pablo Aparicio Resco (Spain), 2009-2010-2011
Philip Bieber (Washington DC, USA), 2011

Lucie Broncova (Czech Republic), 2008
Viktoria Chystyakova (Ukraine), 2008

Nicole Coscolleula (New Jersey, USA), 2011

Tomas Davidov (Slovakia), 2008

Amy Dickenson (Texas, USA), 2011

Amy Donaldson (Australia), 2008 & 2009
, 2011
Shelley Dootson (England), 2011

Adela Dornakova (Czech Republic), 2008

Piotr Dulawa (Poland), 2011

Kyle Egerer (Michigan, USA), 2010
Padraic Emparan (California, USA),

Ivy Faulkner (Arizona, USA), 2008
Alissa Fitzsimons (Ireland), 2010
Daniela Fuchs (Germany), 2010

Jane Gagne (Florida, USA), 2011

Gail Gant (Texas, USA), 2008-2009-2010
Kenneth Gibson (Canada), 2009
Jody Goldberg (California, USA), 2009

Daniel Gonzalez (Spain), 2011
Hugh Greenland (England), 2011
Courtney Greig (Texas, USA), 2011

Deborah Haberman (Washington, USA),

2010 & 2011
David Hodo (Arkansas, USA), 2009
Boban Husenovski (Macedonia), 2008
Ana Jakovljevic (Serbia), 2011
Marianne Jansen (Norway), 2009
Nikita Johnston (Canada), 2009
Nicholas Johnstone (Scotland), 2009-2010-2011
Jenny Jurica (Texas, USA), 2008
Jana Kopackova (Czech Republic), 2008
Veronika Kristofova (Slovakia), 2008
Karel Kut (Czech Republic), 2008
Elina Larravide (Maryland, USA), 2010
Zhuoxian Lin (People's Republic of China), 2011
Jana Lohnicka (Czech Republic), 2008
Victor Lopez (New York, USA), 2010 & 2011
Adrien Louarn (France), 2010 & 2011
Francis Malec III (California, USA), 2008 & 2010, 2011
Mari Malmer (Norway), 2008 & 2009
Elizabeth de Marigny (Texas, USA), 2010 & 2011
Eloy Martinez (Spain), 2011
Eulah Matthews (Texas, USA), 2008-2009-2010-2011
Diane Mattly (California, USA), 2008-2009-2010-2011
Daniel McAree (England), 2010
Sonia McLaughlin (Canada), 2008
Matthew McTernan (England), 2010 & 2011
Frederic Mege (France), 2011
Karoline Mikkelsen (Norway), 2010
Nick Moignard (England), 2009
William Neidinger (Texas, USA), 2008-2009-2010-2011
Sarah News (Canada), 2009
Joseph Noffsinger (Texas, USA), 2008
Nikolas Noffsinger (Texas, USA), 2008
Rose O'Sullivan (Australia), 2008 & 2009
Simon Oswald (New Zealand), 2009
Matej Pavlacky (Czech Republic), 2008
Magnus Persson (Sweden), 2008
Bridgid Purcell (Ireland), 2010
Joseph Rantz (Georgia, USA), 2010
Candace Richards (Australia), 2010 & 2011
Andrew Rizzo (Colorado, USA), 2010
Molly Saville (New Jersey, USA), 2009
Karynn Schmidt (Florida, USA), 2011
Nicholas Shelden-Setten (Washington, USA),
2008 & 2009
Tendelle Sheu (Massachusetts, USA), 2011
Paul Sirota (Texas, USA), 2008
Adela Soukupova (Czech Republic), 2008 & 2009
Teresa Southwell (Texas, USA), 2008-2009-2010-2011
Jo-Simon Stokke (Norway), 2008 & 2009
Ola Svensson (Sweden), 2009
Slawomir Szyszka (Poland), 2009-2010-2011
Petra Tuslova (Czech Republic), 2008
Tatiana Votroubekova (Slovakia), 2008
Sarah Wipperman (Iowa, USA), 2011
Jakub Zezule (Czech Republic), 2008
Petra Zvireci (Czech Republic), 2010
Discussing what changes in
soil color and texture tell us.
Measuring to produce site
Taking depth levels with
surveying equipment.
Discussing a pottery find in
the field.
Pottery is washed daily.
Every afternoon the Field School participates
in “Pottery Reading,” the analysis of pottery.  
All students are responsible for describing
the pottery found in the squares they dug.
Practicing conservation and restoration of pottery.
Significant finds are drawn.
Sorting and cataloging artifacts for
storage in the Sveti Nikole Museum.
Photographs are taken
daily in the field.
Producing site drawings
and groundplans.
Producing official excavation
In 2009 evening lectures and
workshops on measuring the site (left)
and drawing pottery (below) were
presented by Field School participants.  
Lectures and workshops by Field
School participants continued in the
 and 2011 seasons.
TFAHR provided transportation for weekend field trips, including these to
Stobi (left) and Kokino (right).  Our group was guided by experts from local
Macedonian museums.
our students of their experiences paying large fees but getting very little in the way of archaeological experience, their activities being confined
mainly to pushing wheelbarrows or clearing brush.  The TFAHR International Field School is different.  All participants pay their own way to the
excavation site; TFAHR pays for their room, board, and equipment.  TFAHR also pays for the transportation on weekend field trips to other
sites of historical interest; participants pay their own room and board on such trips.  There are no fees, tuition, or registration costs to
participate in a TFAHR dig.
Thank you again for the opportunity you gave
me to dig with you again at Bylazora.  This
year was a really rewarding experience.  The
excavation itself is such a learning curve for
me, but also the opportunity to meet people
from so many diverse backgrounds and hear
what they are studying and thinking is
invaluable.  I think your field school creates a
great atmosphere of shared learning and
interaction - so a big thank you to you both
and to the Foundation!!

Rose O'Sullivan, Bylazora 2008 & 2009
Field School participants gave of their
free time to help with the Children's
Festival in Sveti Nikole in July 2010.