Archaeology: Ancient stone baptismal vessel found at Plovdiv’s Episcopal Basilica site

A team of archaeologists coming to the close of a 10-month project at Plovdiv’s Episcopal Basilica site have found a stone baptismal vessel given to the basilica by a Bishop Makedonii, possibly dating from some time in the fifth century.

The 10-month archaeological excavations at the 2500 square metre site come to a close this week, and it is expected that early in the week beginning on July 31, the site will be visited by a commission from the Ministry of Culture.

Archaeological team leader Zheni Tankova expressed thanks to the America for Bulgaria Foundation, which together with Plovdiv municipality “gave the opportunity to reveal this truly amazing monument of architecture, culture, art and religion”.

Hundreds of metres of mosaic flooring has been revealed, much of it in good condition, as well as architectural elements of high artistic value, including architraves and friezes.

“I do not want to sound immodest, but we are talking about the largest basilica found so far, with a very splendid layout, this expanse of mosaic floor on two levels,” Tankova said.

On the baptismal vessel, there is the name of a bishop, Makedonii.

“We have not yet established if this is a matter of a bishop from Philippopolis (Plovdiv) or someone else. Some time in the second half or towards the end of the fifth century, there was a Constantinople Patriarch Makedonii, who had been deported and who was sent to our Black Sea in exile. My working theory is that some time during this time, he sent this vessel as a gift to the basilica,” Tankova said.

The archaeological team also had uncovered a rather large street section leading from the bishop’s residence to the basilica, and some boreholes.

The earlier building under the basilica was also rectangular, had been a large building, most probably a public building. Tankova expressed hope that once the main archaeological study was complete, work could be done to learn more about the earlier building, its architectural plan and the functions it was used for.





The Sofia Globe staff

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