Archaeological roundup: Finds in Bulgaria include ancient coins, a basilica and an inn in Philippopolis

A mid-ninth century inscription in Cyrillic script, a treasure of more than 1200 Byzantine coins, a fragment of a hunting scene, a basilica and even the remains of an ancient inn – these are just some of the finds announced by archaeologists in Bulgaria in September 2014.

On September 23, it was announced that an archaeological expedition had found more than 1200 early Byzantine coins at the Slavnata Kanara site near the village of Debrene in north-eastern Bulgaria.

The director of the Regional History Museum in Dobrich, Kostadin Kostadinov, said that the bronze coins, in a small amphora, probably had been an ecclesiastical tribute collected by the laity and concealed during the time of the invasions by the Avars and Slavs.

Digs were being conducted at the site, which has a fortress where several layers indicate the period over which it was used, including late Roman, early Byzantine and Old Bulgarian, according to supervising archaeologist Boyan Totev.

Archaeologists believe that the fortification was built to protect a basilica. The church is believed to date from the late Roman era and was in use until the sixth century. The eastern gate and northern city wall of the site also had been discovered, Totev said.

Also on September 23, it was announced that an inscription in Cyrillic script had been found on an architectural element at the residence of the ruler of one of Bulgaria’s ancient former capitals, Preslav. The inscription shows the name Karmih (Кармих) which archaeologists believe may have been the name of the builder.

Archaeology cyrillic script Preslav Bulgaria

Although in the middle of the ninth century the use of the Church Slavonic alphabet was widespread, archaeologists rarely encounter such surviving inscriptions.

In Provadiya, archaeologists announced on September 23 that they had found a wall from the era of the Late Chalcolithic, the fifth millennium BCE, at what is said to be the oldest salt production site in Europe.

Professor Vassil Nikolov said that the wall was about three metres thick at its base.

Ten new burials were discovered at the necropolis at the site, just a week before the end of excavations for this season.

According to a report by Bulgarian National Television, archaeologists had concluded from this year’s dig that salt production at the site was more large-scale than had been thought previously.

In mid-September, it emerged that at the site of the ancient Roman town of Misionis in north-eastern Bulgaria, close to Turgovishte, recent discoveries included a fragment of a hunting scene stamped on a luxurious clay pot.


Archeologists have also found ornaments and an icon from the times of Preslav school. The fragment is from ceramic dinnerware, which was first used for decoration at Roman banquets in the first century.

There were ceramics workshops across the whole Roman Empire, but the piece of pottery found in Misionis is from workshops of the Tunisian city of Carthage.

On September 11, reports said that archeologists had discovered an episcopal basilica during excavations in the ancient city of Zaldapa, which was the largest ancient fortified centre in the region of Dobrudzha in Bulgaria’s north-east.

The early Christian basilica had three naves and was 37m long and 21m wide. Archeologists say it is commensurate to the biggest Christian temples in Odesos, Istria and Tomi, BNT reported.

Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv continued to make headlines for its archaeological discoveries, as it has done regularly in recent years.

Among discoveries was the remains of a Pecheneg funeral site, nomads who raided and plundered Plovdiv in the second half of the 11th century.

Along with the body, the mound contained the remains of three dogs. The discovery was made at the site close to today’s central post office.

Earlier in September, reports said that archeologists had discovered the remains of an ancient inn in the centre of Plovdiv. Two hundred coins, glasses and clay cups were found.

There was a room for various games, with coloured glass to shade visitors from the hot sun and the walls had two coats of plaster.

The place may appear to be the first casino in Bulgaria, a report by BNT said.

Archaeologist Zheni Tankova said that a large amount of pools made of clay and marble had been found, which suggests they were used for board games, chequers and chess.

The finding of the inn shows that the place was part of the commercial and cultural centre of Philippopolis, one of the former names of Plovdiv, for Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

(Main photo, of the Forum archaeological site in Plovdiv, photographed in September 2014: (c) Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

Related stories:

Archaeology: New finds from Bulgaria’s Perperikon unveiled

Archaeology: 9th century Baths found at Bulgaria’s Pliska

Archaeology: 2014 finds in Bulgaria include Roman statues, pottery workshop, child’s toy

Archaeology: Bulgaria’s latest ‘vampire’ skeleton found in Plovdiv

Archaeology: 10th Century buckles with imperial symbols found in Bulgaria’s Pliska

Archaeology: Fifth century Christian basilica found in Bulgaria’s Bourgas



The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage.