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The National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (NAIM-BAS) is the main scientific research center for Archaeology in Bulgaria. Its main activities are related to comprehensive research on the material and spiritual culture of the tribes and peoples that inhabited the present-day Bulgarian lands from remote prehistory (1 600 000 BC) until the 18th century AD. The institution is a national center and coordinator of all field research in the State and exercises scholarly and methodological control over it.

The foundations of NAIM-BAS were laid in the Regulation of the Bulgarian Literary Society in 1869. This document formulated the necessity of a Committee for Antiquities for the first time. After the state's liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, the Public Library with Museum Collection was founded, and soon after that, the collection was transformed into a Museum Department. The latter became the independent People’s Museum in 1892 (State Gazette 33/12.02.1893) and became a “center of all scientific powers on the state's territory”. It exercised its functions with the Bulgarian Archaeological Society, which later became the Bulgarian Archaeological Institute (State Gazette 83/15.07.1921). In its current form, NAIM-BAS has functioned since 1949 as a continuator and legal successor of the Museum and the Institute that were united in 1948.

Nowadays, NAIM-BAS is an institution that holds one of the richest museum collections in South-Eastern Europe. At the same time, it represents an establishment that creates and supports the standards for science and museum practices in the state, contributing to the modernization of the normative order in the field of cultural-historical heritage. The institution unites the capacity of more than half of the archaeological specialists in Bulgaria. The administrative, controlling, and methodological functions of NAIM-BAS are postulated in the Low for Cultural Heritage and its Regulation, the Instruction for Archaeological Terrain Research, the Instruction for creation, support, and providing information from the Archaeological Information System “Archaeological Map of Bulgaria”, etc. The foundation of its activities is based on the Regulation for the Structure and the Work of NAIM-BAS.

Given the specificity of the research’s problems, the National Archaeological Institute with Museum-BAS comprises various scientific and service departments. The Institute has five chronological and subject departments (Department of Prehistoric Archaeology, Department of Thracian Archaeology, Department of Classic Archaeology, Department of Medieval Archaeology, Department of Numismatics and Epigraphy), a Problematic Group (Department for Interdisciplinary Research and Archaeological Map of Bulgaria), and two Branches for excavations at the Old Bulgarian capitals, in Shumen and Veliko Tarnovo. In 2003, the Archaeological Museum established the departments “Exhibitions” and “Depositories” as well as the “Laboratory for Analysis, Conservation, and Restoration”. The research, administrative, economic, and financial issues at NAIM-BAS are serviced by several specialized units: Editorial Group, Research Archives, Photo studio, Accountant’s Office, Secretariat, and Administrative Department).

The Institution’s Library is divided into the Library of the Archaeological Institute and the Library of the Archaeological Museum. It comprises a priceless collection of books on Archaeology, History, Art, Architecture, Religion, Mythology, and Philology. Besides, the NAIM-BAS holds and supports one of the biggest specialized archaeological archives in the State.

The institution’s building stock includes the National Archaeological Museum (Buyuk Mosque, Atanas Burov Square 1), which is a monument of culture, the administrative building on Saborna Str. 2 (a group monument of culture together with the Bulgarian National Bank), the apartments on G.S. Rakovski Str. 149 and Yuriy Venelin 16, all located in Sofia, the buildings of the Branches in Veliko Tarnovo (Ivan Vazov Str. 29А) and Shumen (General Toshev Str. 4). The institution disposes of three archaeological bases located in Pliska, Preslav, and the village of Ledenik, Veliko Tarnovo Region, the latter intended for storing of the archaeological materials found at the medieval strongholds Tsarevets and Trapezitsa, as well as with several premises and a basement in Block 26 B on Boulevard Tsarigradsko Shose 125, Sofia, reconstructed within the project INFRAMAT for museum depositories and additional space for the needs of the Laboratory for Analysis, Restoration, and Conservation.

NAIM-BAS is managed by a Director and Deputy Director of the Museum. Part of the governing body is the Scientific Secretary.

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In 2024, the academic staff of NAIM-BAS will consist of 90 persons, and the distribution according to their offices is as follows: Professors—5; Associated Professors—22; Assistant Professors—57; Assistants—5. The scientific degrees of the people who work in NAIM-BAS are doctors—84 and doctors of sciences—3. The staff counts 146 people.

NAIM-BAS's many-sided activities are realized through narrow cooperation and interaction with the country's museums, various state institutions (Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education and Science, National Institute for Immovable Cultural Heritage), regional and local executive authorities, various non-government organizations, universities, and others. For primal importance is the participation of NAIM-BAS in preparing documents and activities for the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science related to professional and effective management and the changes in the normative order for the state's archaeological heritage. The team's representatives participate in the meetings of the Specialized Expert Council for Preservation of Immovable Cultural Valuables, the Interagency Council of Field Research, and the commission to distribute the budgetary subsidy for regular archaeological research in the Ministry of Culture. Scientists from the Institute participate in a working group for assessment of the sites, part of the National Road Map for Scientific Infrastructure of the Ministry of Education and Science, in the mandate commission of the General Assembly of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, in the Consultative Council for Maritime Spatial Planning at the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, in the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body towards the UNESCO Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention, in the Commission for Academic Ethics of the Ministry of Education and Science, in Limes Commission in Bulgaria of the Ministry of Culture, in the Commission of Zoning Regulations of the Ministry of Culture, in the Bulgarian Studies Council of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, in the Association of Byzantine and Medieval Studies, etc.

Our specialists' expert activities are the basis of our relations with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor’s office, and the Court. Representative collections of stone monuments from the Museum depositories are exhibited at the Presidency, the exterior spaces of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the metro station “Serdica”, and the church “St. Petka”, Sofia. The institution is the main partner for executing rescue archaeological research on the state’s strategic infrastructure – roads, railway lines, gas pipes, and electric supply network. It is directly connected with the current framework agreement with “Road Infrastructure Agency”, the National Company “Railway Infrastructure”, “Bulgartransgaz EAD”, and “Electric System Operator”. In the last years, the rescue archaeological excavations strengthened their positions as a mechanism for the realization of additional activities, including ones related to the main NAIM-BAS scientific, methodological, and administrative functions.

The National Archaeological Institute with Museum is the biggest scientific institution in Bulgaria. Its main goal is to develop archaeological science through fundamental and applied studies with a practical orientation. The scientific activity of NAIM-BAS specialists within 2017 – 2024 has been performed within the frame of national and international projects directly related to the National Strategy for Development of Scientific Research in the Republic of Bulgaria (2017-2030). On a national level, the institution has long-term agreements with the Faculty of History and the Department of Archaeology at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the Departments of Archaeology at the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St Cyril and St. Methodius”, the Plovdiv University “Paisius of Hilendar”, and the Shumen University “Bishop Konstantin of Preslav”. Joint activities are performed together with different institutes, part of the network of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences: Institute of Geophysics, Geodesy and Geography, Institute of Experimental Morphology, Pathology, and Anthropology with Museum, Institute for Physical Chemistry, the Geological Institute, the Central Laboratory of Mineralogy and Crystallography, The National Museum of Natural History, and others. NAIM-BAS works on agreements with dozens of regional museums on the state's territory within the context of partnerships in different scientific research directions (both field and laboratory), museum activities, and joint editions by creating an active network of collaborations. NAIM-BAS organizes annual national conferences and strengthens its leading, in organizational and methodological aspects, role in Archaeology.

Scientific international cooperation includes executing projects pursuant to contracts and agreements at the Academy and Institute levels. To date, NAIMBAS works on international projects with external funding and in partnership with institutions in Austria, Germany, Poland, and France. Still active are projects with leading European and World institutes such as the Czech Academy of Sciences, Louvre, University of Bordeaux, Charles University Prague, the University of Glasgow, University of Helsinki, Austrian Archaeological Institute toward the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna University, and others. An inter-academic exchange with many European countries is current, and regular international conferences are organized. The Institute participates in international contracts and agreements with Vasile Pârvan Institute of Archaeology towards the Romanian Academy of Sciences, the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, the University of Münster (Germany), the Warsaw University (Poland), the Archaeological Institute towards the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the Institute of Ethnology and Archaeology towards the Polish Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography towards the Azerbaijanian Academy of Sciences. NAIM-BAS organizes the international academic seminar, which annually informs the Bulgarian academic society and the broad public about the recent achievements in archaeology, numismatics, epigraphy, and interdisciplinary studies.

The fieldwork of the scientists and the specialists at NAIM-BAS comprises planned and rescue archaeological excavations, surveys, and non-destructive research on different sites dating back to the Early Paleolithic till the end of the 18th century AD. Among the archaeological sites studied through regular archaeological investigations are the Prehistoric settlement mound Provadia-Solnitsata, the prehistoric settlements Durankulak–Golemiat Ostrov and Nova Nadezhda, the necropolis from the Late Bronze Age near the village of Balei, Vidin Region, the antique sites of Ratiaria, Nove, Ulpia Oescus, Debelt, Sveti Kirik, Chirakman, Kasnakovo, the medieval Bulgarian capitals of Pliska, Preslav, and Trapezitsa, and others.

The main directions of the research process in the different sections of NAIM-BAS are: “The route for settling the European continent by the species Homo through the Balkan Peninsula“, “Genesis of the cultures and the ecological changes during the Pleistocene and the Early Holocene”, “Material and spiritual culture of the Neolithic in the Bulgarian lands, within the context of the Balkan Peninsula”, “ Material and Spiritual Culture of the Chalcolithic in the Bulgarian lands, Central and Southeastern Europe”, “Study of the Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands during the Bronze Age”, “Thracian culture in the Bulgarian lands during the Iron age (1st Millennium BC)”, “The antique culture along the Bulgarian Black-sea coast, 6th c. BC – 6th c. AD”, “Roman provincial culture in the Bulgarian Lands, 1st – 3rd c. AD”, “The material culture in the Bulgarian lands during the Late Antiquity, 4th – the beginning of 7th c.”, “Lower Danube Limes, 1st – beginning of 7th c.”, “Slavs and Proto-Bulgars”, “Old Bulgarian capitals”, “Material and spiritual culture in the Bulgarian lands, 6th c. BC – 7th c. AD”, “The Antique Inscriptions in the Bulgarian Lands”, “Applying of interdisciplinary studies in the Bulgarian Archaeology in the field of the terrain and under-water archaeological investigations, the archaeobotany, the geophysical research, the architectural and the photogrammetric record, the geo-spatial analysis and the development of the Archaeology Map of Bulgaria”.

The scientific staff of NAIM-BAS traditionally registers more than 100 reports annually in international, national, and regional scientific forums in Bulgaria and abroad. The publications of the scientists and the specialists of NAIM-BAS include titles printed as independent monographs or studies, articles, and reviews in prestigious national and international editions, indexed in WoS, Scopus, and ERIH+. Our scientists are authors of anonymous reviews for articles submitted in periodicals such as Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Documenta Praehistorica, Journal of Lithic Studies, Journal of Conflict Archaeology, Archaeological prospection, GEPHYRA (Research Centre for Mediterranean Languages and Cultures, Akdeniz University), and others.

NAIM-BAS is a publisher of periodicals and series: “Contributions to the Bulgarian Archaeology” (referеnced in ERIH+), “Studia Prehistorica”, “Numismatics, Sigillography and Epigraphy”, “Archaeological Discoveries and Excavations”, “Archaeological Rescue Excavations for Infrastructure Projects”, “Interdisciplinary Studies”, “Bulletin of the National Archaeological Institute”, “Dissertations”, “National Archaeological Museum – Catalogues”, “Archaeological Excavations and Research”, “Archaeology”, “Pliska-Preslav”, “Annual of the National Archaeological Museum”.

The scientific body of NAIM-BAS regularly participates in the training of specialists in the field of Archaeology. Our scientists are giving lectures and specialized courses in various bachelor and master programs at Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, the University of Veliko Tarnovo “St Cyril and St. Methodius”, the Plovdiv University “Paisius of Hilendar”, the Southwestern University “Neofit Rilski”, The National Academy of Arts, and others.

NAIM-BAS has two credited Ph.D. programs in Prehistory and Archaeology, where young specialists study to acquire scientific and educational degrees “Ph.D”. The institution participates in the national program “Young Scholars and Post-docs”, where per year studies between four and fourteen masters. The program corresponds with the efforts of NAIM-BAS to attract young scholars into its structure and to create a desire among young people to start scientific research jobs in the institution.

The scientific-applied activities of NAIM-BAS mostly find expression in various events related to the specifics of the functioning of the Archaeological Museum – inventorying of the Museum Collections, inventorying of the newfound artifacts, the preparation and presenting of permanent and temporary exhibitions, restoration, conservation, and photographing, actualization of the museum descriptions, digitalization. In recent years, the Museum has organized dozens of exhibitions on national and international levels, including products that stand out with their scientific and artistic values, such as the temporary exhibitions: “Time, Matter, Spirit. The Restoration and the Conservation at NAIM-BAS”, “Stream Through Time: Rescue Archaeological Investigations along the Expansion of the Gas Transmission Infrastructure of Bulgartransgaz EAD”, “The Mirror of the Time: Female Beauty in the Ages”, “At the Gates of the Royal Court. Treasures of Veliki Preslav”, “Auf der Suche nach Gold. Metalle – Ressourcen – Netzwerke in der Bronzezeit Bulgariens”, organized in Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria, “Silver Thrace”, organized at the Archaeological Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia, Skopje, “Trebenishte—105 Years From the Discovering of the Necropolis” at the National Archaeological Museum, Sofia, and others. A well-established practice is organizing the annual temporary exhibition “Bulgarian Archaeology”, which presents the most intriguing archaeological finds from the last archaeological season. In the period 2020-2024, the institution regularly participates in the pan-European initiatives “European Night of the Museums”, “European Researchers’ Night”, and “European Archaeology Days”, and often organizes specialized museum talks, pieces of training and programs for kids and students such as “Prehistory for Kids”, “The Games and the Toys in the Ancient Times”, “Archaeology for Kids”, “Adventures at the Museum – Summer Schools for Kids and Students”. The scientific-applied activities of the NAIM-BAS collective include the elaboration of digital resources (3-D exhibitions, virtual exhibitions, mobile guides, educational touch-screening devices), author developments of popular scientific, educational, and documental movies, participation in thematic radio emissions, and TV series, numerous interviews for the central, the regional, and the local press, publications in electronic media and the social networks of NAIM-BAS (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube). Since 2023 the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) is an official media partner of NAIM-BAS.