Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolai Ovcharov said on March 21 that he the recent political upheaval in the country threatened to delay the start of this year’s archaeological digs at the Perperikon site.
Speaking to Focus news agency, Ovcharov, a professor of archaeology and one of the country’s most prominent archaeologists, said that a total of 1.25 million leva were promised by the previous government, which has now been replaced by a caretaker cabinet.
“Until 15 or 20 days ago, we had some idea about the archaeological digs season would go. I do not know now, for the simple reason that I do not know anyone in the caretaker government and whether they know what has been done so far,” Ovcharov said.
Perperikon, in Bulgaria’s eastern Rhodopes region, about 15km from the town of Kurdjali, has been the site of various forms of religious activity from about 7000 years ago, having first been used by the Thracians. The site is a popular tourist attraction and long-term archaeological work continues to unveil new discoveries.
Ovcharov has overseen the annual digs at the site for more than a decade and said that he hoped to finish work this season.
“If we get the funds earmarked in the Budget for this year, we will have the opportunity to finish work on the Perperikon holy palace and the acropolis, passing it on to the state to manage. I hope that the new caretaker government can release the funds so that we do not miss the season for digs,” he said.
“We are on the final straight, after 15 years of work, I am at the final line and I want to finish this […] I want to give this wonderful site, which could be unique in the world, to have the archaeological digs completed by the end of this year, if we get the funding.”
(Perperikon photo by Clive Leviev-Sawyer)