Tell Yunatsite

Tell Yunatsite is one of the most imposing prehistoric sites in Europe. It is a unique example of a site that has been inhabited for more than six thousand years. The site has been subject to long-term archaeological excavation and international research. It is also a place of interest for visitors.

These interweaving features were actually the biggest design challenge. How to protect a substance, which, in its essence, is an accumulation of highly vulnerable adobe, clay and soil? How to ensure future research activities, which, in fact, remove layer after layer from this substance? How to explain the significance of this seemingly ordinary mass of earth? How to tell the stories, which the tell is hiding? How can we unite what seems to be non-unitable – a living archaeological (also in the context of a whole ecosystem that has developed here) and a unique for visiting (but hardly comprehensible) cultural site?

The massive profile of the tell is protected by steen nets and explained by large distinguishable elements. The area around the chalcolithic fortification wall is protected by a textile membrane shelter. And the protection of the fortress wall is provided by rammed earth – we apply the common approach refracted through the clay nature of the wall. A system of pathways and steps in the terrain, of steel grate platforms and stairs – open and developing – provides safe circulation and experience. All interventions are designed not to threaten nor damage the integrity of yet unstudied cultural strata, but to guarantee the possibility for future archaeological research: ready-made elements put in place, concrete tetrapods for foundations of the large shelter, protection without using chemical components. 

The architectural approach follows the principle of contrast – recognizability and attractiveness of the new elements without being intrusive to the environment. With the natural environment as a background, the new galvanized elements stand out with their minimalistic design. The white textile membrane defines the place where the prehistoric structures are exhibited in situ. Several red accents draw the visitor to the key spaces. The chosen materiality intuitively hints of temporariness and reversibility in the context of the prehistoric layering, of something new that is telling stories about the tell.

  • Authors:
    Donika Georgieva, Miroslav Velkov, Dessislava Kovacheva
  • Collaborators:
    Yavor Boyadzhiev and Kamen Boyadzhiev (archaeologists), Vatyu Tanev and Yuliyan Baychev (structural engineers), Krasimira Frangova (conservation), Ognyan Vasilev (surveyor), Fantina Rangelova (safety and health), Michael Morris (conservation consultant)
  • Year: 2020
  • Client: Pazardzhik History Museum
  • Status: in progress
  • More Info:
    The idea for a project for conservation and socialization of Tell Yunatsite is a result of the long-term cooperation between Pazardzhik History Museum, the archaeological team of NAIM at BAS, and Balkan Heritage Foundation.