Three children’s graves found at necropolis in Plovdiv’s Great Basilica site as 2017 archaeological season starts

Archaeological work has resumed at the Great Basilica site in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv, with the first day of the 2017 season resulting in the finding of three children’s graves at the necropolis and a beautifully-crafted chapiter of a pillar.

The Great Basilica, understood to date from the fourth to the fifth centuries, in the largest early Christian church yet found on the Balkans. The site is near Plovdiv’s 19th century Roman Catholic St Ludwig church.

Zheni Tankova, head of the archaeological team, said that expectations were very high high. Last year alone, the dig team uncovered 250 square metres of mosaic, and this year the process is continuing, Plovdiv website reported.

The first group of volunteers who will assist at the Great Basilicia site will arrive on April 28. Their tasks will include uncovering the mosaics from beneath the sand, over a large area.

“At this point, we will see the greatest beauty, because all the mosaics will be revealed,” Tankova said.

Work on the object itself should be completed in late June, but it is not certain whether the dig team will be able to meet that deadline.

“We don’t know whether we’ll succeed because it does not depend only on us, but on the structures that emerge. The cleaning is a slow process, and more graves continue to appear, which further slows the process. Further, we also find structures that do not belong to the basilica building. Apparently they are some later alterations,” Tankova said.

It is not yet clear whether the beautiful mosaics will be raised for restoration elsewhere, or whether work will be done on them at the site.

The aim is for the project to be completed, for the exhibition of the archaeological finds, by 2019 when Plovdiv will be European Capital of Culture.

The project is being supported by two grants from the America For Bulgaria Foundation, to a sum of about 8.18 million leva, and five million leva from Plovdiv Municipality.



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The Sofia Globe staff

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