Archaeology: Ancient Theatre in Plovdiv is a bit more ancient than it was thought

A newly-found inscription has shown that the Ancient Theatre in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv, long thought to date back to about the year 116 CE, is in fact older – dating to the 90s of the first century CE.

The findings were shown to the media at the Ancient Theatre on November 28 2016, with Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev present.

The inscription was found on a part of a statue of the heir of last Thracian kings, and dates from the first century, meaning that the theatre was not begun at the time of Emperor Trajan but about three decades earlier.

The text was translated from ancient Greek by Professor Nikolai Sharankov of Sofia University. It refers to Titus Flavius Cotis, who was the first priest of the imperial cult in the province of Thrace, and who was a descendant of the last Thracian kings.

Titus Flavius Cotis ruled Philippopolis at the time of Emperor Domitian.

Unfortunately, the name of the creator of the column is missing, with the only clue to his identity being a fragment reading, “son of Sustran called Puglia”.

Plovdiv media reported mayor Totev as being extremely happy with the findings at the site because they alter the historical view of Plovdiv, proving that it was the capital of the province of Thrace, displacing the city of Perrin which was thought to have had that status.


Excavation of the column, found in a stairwell of Plovdiv’s Ancient Theatre, and on which the statue would have stood, will be completed this week. It is expected that the inscription will be put on display, probably at the orchestra section of the stage of the amphitheatre.

The heirs of the Odrysian royal dynasty ruled Philippopolis until the 4th century CE.

Sharankov said that many of the magnificent buildings put up in the city at the time of Titus Flavius Cotis would have come from his own funds, rather than those of the city. “He wanted to give from his wealth for the public benefit and thus enhance his reputation among the citizenry,” Sharankov said.

Archive photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer
Archive photo of a Buena Vista Social Club concert at Plovdiv’s Ancient Theatre in 2014: Clive Leviev-Sawyer





The Sofia Globe staff

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