On Friday, October 22, the Field Museum in Chicago hosted an event entitled “Night of Bulgarian Archaeology.” The event was organized by the Department of Anthropology to present the Bulgarian archaeological program developed in collaboration with the American Research Center in Sophia (ARCS) over the last two years. The program is generously supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF). The event was attended by various members of the Bulgarian community, including businessmen, supporters of archaeology, and representatives from the Bulgarian-American Association and the Bulgarian media in Chicago. Also in attendance were the ABF president, Frank Bauer, specialists from the Field Museum, and guests from our Balkan neighbors, including Greece, Serbia, and Bosnia.
The event was opened by Dr. William Parkinson, an associate curator in the Department of Anthropology and head of the Bulgarian archaeological program at the Field Museum. Dr. Parkinson presented a brief history of the cooperation between the museum’s Department of Anthropology and the American Research Center in Sophia. Todor Petev, the administrative director of the U.S. office of ARCS and a special guest at the event, discussed the history of the center, its role in building cooperation between American and Bulgarian scholars, and its contribution to the conservation, development, and promotion of Bulgarian archaeological and cultural heritage. Dilyana Ivanova, the administrative assistant of the Bulgarian archaeology program at the Field Museum, gave a presentation on the structure and results of the program. The most substantial part of her talk focused on the ten proposals funded by the ABF from 2010 and 2011. Examples include the 2010-funded projects through the Regional Historical Museum – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria and the History Museum – Sredets, as well as the 2011-funded projects through the Regional Historical Museum – Ruse and the Museum of History Iskra in Kazanlak. The final speaker was the prehistorian Dr. Tsenka Tsanova, who is the first ABF postdoctoral fellow at the Field Museum and will work in the Department of Anthropology for one academic year. Dr. Tsanova discussed the research that she will conduct this year and its relevance for the development of Bulgarian archaeology and archaeological science in general. Her research will highlight important issues in human origins, including the transition from Neanderthal to modern Homo sapiens in Bulgaria and the Balkans.
Following the lectures, the “Night of Bulgarian Archaeology” continued with a cocktail reception and an exhibition of paintings entitled “Earth and Fire” by Chicago-based artist Kina Bagovska. The exhibition fit within the event’s theme of promoting Bulgarian archaeology and culture by depicting various images of the Neolithic “mother goddess,” some of which are found in Bulgaria and the Balkans. Constantine Marinov and his Chicago-based Balkan rhythm band, “Verea,” added to the festive mood of the reception.
Through this event, the Field Museum successfully demonstrated to the Bulgarian community in Chicago – the largest in the United States – that Bulgarian culture and heritage is an important topic at the museum. The “Night of Bulgarian Archaeology” was made possible through joint funding from the ABF, which supports the study and preservation of Bulgarian cultural heritage. This event related directly to the program’s goal of helping Bulgaria to achieve its fullest potential as a successful and modern European nation.
Organizers of the event would like to thank the Bulgarian media in Chicago, including the web portal EuroChicago and the newspapers “Bulgaria,” “Bulgaria Now,” “Bulgaria 21stCentury,” and “Start,” including those that provided representatives to attend the event and learn about the program. The Bulgarian-American Association helped to publicize the Bulgarian archaeological program at the Field Museum. Finally, the directors of the Bulgarian schools Znainie (Lily Paslieva), John Atanasov (Boyanka Ivanova), and Slunchogledi (Vanya Nalbantova), circulated information about the “Night of Bulgarian Archaeology” to Bulgarian children and their parents living in the Chicago area. We are delighted that this event was a successful celebration of the Bulgarian community in Chicago, and we hope that it may become an annual event!