Archaeology: Fortified Hellenistic centre found at Bulgaria’s Cape Chiroza site

The first stage of the excavations of a fortified Hellenistic site from the second to the first century BCE, located on Cape Chiroza between the Kraimorie district and the fishing village of Chengene Skele in Bourgas Bay on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast was completed in July 2020, Bourgas municipality said on August 19.

The excavations are being done by a joint team from Bulgaria’s National History Museum and the Regional History Museum in Bourgas, and are funded by Bourgas municipality.

The fortification had an area of ​​800 square metres and was protected by a stone wall and a large moat with a depth of 1.3 metres and a width of nearly four metres.

An indicator of the dating of the site is the ceramic material, the statement said.

In 260 processed ceramic fragments, 40 per cent are made of Thracian ceramics – vessels made by hand, with plastic decoration and a polished surface.

The other fragments are from amphorae, bottoms and sides of local and imported cups, and red lacquer ceramics with embossed decoration. A reliable marker for dating the site are the handles, the bottoms of bone amphorae (from the island of Kos) and the ceramic fragments of presumed origin from the area of ​​ancient Pergamum, according to the statement.

The discovery of the moat and the tracing, albeit at the initial stage, of the stone wall, makes it possible to assume that another late Hellenistic fortified centre was built on Cape Chiroza, dating from about the same time as the already known ones near the town of Primorsko (Farmakida), with Sinemorets, Brodilovo and Izvor. It is possible, however, that the narrow wall and the moat marked the temenos (enclosure) of a seaside sanctuary.

Underwater archaeological work was done from June 30 to July 7 in the eastern and southeastern waters off Cape Chiroza.

Structures and other finds over an area of 0.1 hectares were discovered and mapped. At the same time, geophysical surveys and bathymetric surveys of the seabed were carried out, thanks to the support of the Centre for Underwater Archaeology – Sozopol, the statement said.

The work led to a number of finds and preliminary conclusions.

Several scatterings of stones were found on an underwater terrace east of Cape Chiroza at a depth of four metres. The diving team managed to photograph many processed stone blocks of different sizes and shapes.

The discoveries include a large number of fragments of Greek building ceramics, Roman tegulas and imbrexes (overlapping roof tiles used in ancient Greek and Roman architecture as a waterproof and durable roof covering), as well as some intact Late Antiquity tiles.

During the underwater inspections, the diving team managed to collect from the seabed about 100 ceramic fragments, half a stone Greek anchor rod, a stone battle ball and several relatively well-preserved amphorae.

At this stage of the underwater research, it is assumed that the site at the foot of Cape Chiroza covered an area of 2000 square metres, the statement said.

The underwater archaeological work is the second in the area in a year.

In February 2020, a team led by Dr Naiden Prahov undertook a geophysical scan and two diving tours in the area of ​​the fishing port in the bay of Chengene Skele and at the island of St Anastasiya.

In mid-August, the actual underwater excavations of the underwater site began, funded entirely by the Municipality of Burgas. They are led by Professor Ivan Hristov and Dr Prahov, director of the Center for Underwater Archaeology at the Ministry of Culture. The statement said that the results of the work will be announced once completed.

(Photos: Bourgas municipality)

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