With a brief history of archaeological research in Bulgaria

by Dr. Lyudmil F. VAGALINSKI

Institute of Archaeology and Museum, Dept. "Antique Archaeology", 2 Saborna St., BG-1000 Sofia
e-mail:  Fax/Tel.: +359 2/659 688  (Archaeologia Bulgarica)

Last updated: 13.2.2000

Go directly to section 4, Select Bibliography

Online Bibliographies of Late Antiquity

1.  Territorial range: present Republic of Bulgaria.

2.  Chronological frames: 1st - 6th centuries.

3.  History of the investigations:

3.1.  From 1396 to 1878
Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. In this long period it was foreign scholars, travelers and diplomats who mainly provided data for monuments from the time of the Principate (1st-3rd c. AD) and the Dominate (4th-6th c. AD) on the Bulgarian lands. Count L. Marsigli (1658-1729) from Bologna is among the most notable. His study Danubius Pannonico-mysicus was published in 1726 in Amsterdam. Its second volume was related to the ancient monuments and marked in fact the beginning of the scientific archaeological studies in Bulgaria.
3.2.  From the Liberation to the World War I
This was the time of setting up the foundations of the archaeology (the ancient one in particular) in Bulgaria. The first Archaeological Society was established in 1878 in the town of Veliko Tarnovo that had been the capital of the second Bulgarian kingdom (12th-14th c.). In 1892 the Archaeological Museum was established in Sofia. At that time Roman sites, including the big cities Oescus and Nicopolis ad Istrum, were intensively excavated. The Czech scholars V. Dobrusky, brothers K. and H. Skorpil contributed greatly to the development of the Antique archaeology in Bulgaria. This was also the time when a number of well-educated Bulgarian archaeologists-specialist in the Antiquity started to work, most of them graduated in Western Europe and mainly in Germany.
3.3.  Between the World Wars
Bogdan Filov (1883-1945) was the indisputable leader of the Antique archaeology (the Roman archaeology in particular) in Bulgaria. In 1920 a Chair of Archaeology was established at Sofia University "St. Kl. Ohridski". The Archaeological Society in Sofia developed into an Archaeological Institute with Department of Antique Archaeology. The History museums in the country collected a great amount of Antique finds coming from intensive surveys and excavations.

The work on an archaeological map of Bulgaria started during this period.

Two Late Antique castles near the village of Sadovec, Pleven region were investigated in 1934-37 by Bulgarian-German-Austrian team, and Bulgarian-Italian team excavated the Roman colony Oescus in 1941-43. The period was characterized by a relative independence of the various archaeological units (museums, the Archaeological Institu te, the Chair of Archaeology, societies) from the central authority and by good public relations resulting from the activity of the leading Roman archaeologists on the popularization of their work.

3.4.  After the World War II (1945-1989)
The abrupt political change in Bulgaria disturbed the normal rhythm of the Antique archaeology development. There was direct state interference. The National Archaeological Museum and the Archaeological Institute had to join together and became a part of the reorganization of the Bulgarian Academy of Science (founded in 1869). A certain distance between the archaeological college and the public emerged. On the other hand, due to the centralized funding from the state budget in the 70-s and the 80-s many large scale excavations were conducted, a great amount of studies and papers was published, Bulgarian archaeologists participated regularly in international forums on Roman archaeology abroad, annual national archaeological conferences were held, the country hosted international archaeological meetings, all students had the opportunity to work on archaeological excavations to practice on the terrain. The Bulgarian Black Sea coast was intensively surveyed, both underwater and on the land, part of these investigations being related to the Roman and Late Antique periods.

At last the bibliography of the Bulgarian archaeology was published in 1957 and expanded in 1974.

An automated Archaeological map of Bulgaria system was introduced in the late 80-s. M. Domaradzki, Polish trained research fellow at the Archaeological Institute with Museum had the leading role in the successful accomplishment of this almost a hundred years old project. The project was also facilitated by the restitution of the agricultural lands to the former
private owners.

The organization changes continued. National Historical Museum with rich collection of ancient finds was established, and constantly accumulated materials from excavations and private collections. From the Section for Antique Archaeology at the Archaeological Institute with Museum a Section for Thracian Archaeology was separated, covering the period from the late
4th millennium to the 1st millennium BC. The archaeologists specialized in Roman archaeology were educated in Sofia University, while the post graduate students could choose between Sofia University and the Archaeological

The number of the international archaeological expeditions increased. Since 1958 (with few breaks) Bulgarian-German (the Academy of German Democratic Republic in Berlin) team excavates the Late Antique castle Iatrus. Since 1960 Bulgarian and Polish (from the Universities in Warsaw, Poznan, Wroclaw) archaeologists have investigated the legionary camp and Late Antique town Novae. The University in Bologna, Italy took part in the excavations of the Roman colony Ratiaria, and the University in Nottingham, Great Britain participated in the excavations of Nicopolis ad Istrum.

In 1973-74 the first Bulgarian expedition abroad under the leadership of V. Velkov made excavations in Carthage.

3.5.  After 1989
The political changes at the end of 1989 were the next challenge (this time mainly in terms of finance) for the Bulgarian archaeology and for its Roman section in particular. There was an abrupt decrease of the number of excavations and especially the regular ones. The intensified investigations in the recent years are mainly rescue excavations resulting from the
construction projects of state and private entrepreneurs.

With the exception of the Bulgarian-Italian team in Ratiaria, the rest of the international teams continue to work. The new partner of the Bulgarian archaeologists in Iatrus from the German side is Romish-Germanische Kommission from Frankfurt
am Main. Meanwhile the number of the scientific publications about Roman monuments from Bulgaria is constantly increasing. Regretfully, most of them are unfamiliar for the foreign colleagues mainly because the traditional centralized relations of book exchange and distribution are disturbed, and the newly established ones need time to develop as well as higher activity
from each of the partners.

Serious changes occurred in the archaeological education. A Department of Archaeology was established at Sofia University providing new possibilities for a more detailed study in archaeology. A New Bulgarian University was established in Sofia upon a decision of the Bulgarian Parliament. The professors of its Department of Archaeology come mainly from the Archaeological Institute. The Chair of Archaeology at Veliko Tarnovo University "Holy Saints Cyril and Methodius" (founded in 1962) has a strong tradition in Mediaeval archaeology training, but in the recent years has given special focus on the Roman archaeology.

The opportunities for studying and specialization abroad have increased and have become available for broader range of people compared to the preceding period. The visa restrictions are a serious obstacle for the international activities of the Bulgarian Antique archaeologist.

The illegal excavations and export of valuable finds from the Roman period made by the so-called treasure hunters have reached its peak in the recent decade.

3.6.  Prospects
Bulgaria is very rich in finds and monuments dating from the 1st to the 6th century, which form a part of the history of the Roman and the Early Byzantine Empire. In this regard the Antique archaeology is objectively "doomed" to a good development and intensive international co-operation though under certain conditions. The most important among them is the adoption of norms and regulations, setting up a balance between the necessary preservation of the centralized control (especially regarding the official permissions for surveys and excavations and their evaluation) on one hand and the extension of the rights of the municipalities (which is a fact already), the inevitable establishment of legalized private museums, auctions for Antique finds and the registered independent companies for archaeological investigations on the other hand. The state should provide funds for the national archaeological institutions. The archaeological tourism is still a profitable business, but the essential problem is what
part of the profit is aimed at excavation, preservation and exhibition of the archaeological finds and monuments.

4. Selected Bibliography:

Aladzova, D. Numismatic Evidence about the Intensity of Barbarian Invasions
into the Province of Lower Moesia During the 5th c. AD. In: Stephanos
Nomismatikos. Edith Schoenert-Geiss zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin 1998.

Belivanova, A. Early Roman Glass from Bulgaria (1st-the first half of the
2nd c. AD). - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) III, 1999, 1, 35-50.
Besevliev, V. Spaetgriechische und spaetlateinische Inschriften aus
Bulgarien. Berlin 1964.

Biernacka-Lubanska, M. Les prises d'eau des aqueducs romains. - Archeologia
(Wroclaw) 40, 1989, 29-40.

Biernacka-Lubanska, M. The Roman and the Early Byzantine Fortifications of
the Lower Moesia and Northern Thrace. Wroclaw 1982.

Boteva, D. Lower Moesia and Thrace in the Roman Imperial System (AD
193-217/218). Sofia 1997 (in Bulgarian, summary in English).

Bozilova, V./Kolendo, J./Mrozewicz, L. Inscriptiones Latines de Novae.
Poznan 1992.

Bozkova, B. Gold and Silver Medallions (Multiples) from the Territory of
Bulgaria. - Macedonian Numismatic Journal 1996, 2, 71-85.

Bozkova, B. La circulation des monnaies en bronze dans les terres bulgares.
IV s. - Numismatika i sfragistika (Sofia) 1994, 1-4, 40-76 (in Bulgarian,
summary in French).

Chaneva-Dechevska, N. Early-Christian Architecture in Bulgaria 4th-6th c.
AD. Sofia 1999 (in Bulgarian).

Conrad, S. Die Grabstelen aus Moesia inferior (in the press).

Conrad, S./Vagalinski, L. (eds.). Der Limes an der unteren Donau von
Diokletian bis Heraklios. Vortraege der Internationalen Konferenz in
Svistov, September 1998. Sofia 1999.

Dimitrova-Milceva, A. Antike Gemmen und Kameen aus dem Archaeologischen
Nationalmuseum in Sofia. Sofia 1980.

Dintchev, V. About the Limit of the Urban Form of Life in the Late Antique
Dioceses of Thracia and Dacia: the Overestimated Centres. - Archaeologia
Bulgarica (Sofia) IV, 2000, 2 (in the press).

Dintchev, V. Classification of the Late Antique Cities in the Dioceses of
Thracia and Dacia. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) III, 1999, 3, 39-74.

Dintchev, V. On the Ethno-Cultural Features of the Village Population on the
Present Bulgarian Territory in the 4th c. AD. - Archaeologia Bulgarica
(Sofia) II, 1998, 2, 64-87.

Dintchev, V. Zikodeva - an Example of Early-Byzantine Urbanism in the
Balkans. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) I, 1997, 3, 57-77.

Dintchev, V. Roman Villas in the Present-Day Bulgarian Lands. Sofia 1997 (in
Bulgarian with summary in English).

Dintchev, V. Household Substructure of the Early-Byzantine Fortified
Settlements on the Present Bulgarian Territory. - Archaeologia Bulgarica
(Sofia) I, 1997, 47-63.

Dyczek, P. Roman Amphorae on Lower Danube (I-III c. AD). Warszawa 2000.
Genceva, E. Wyposazewie legionisty rzymskiego z Novae. - Novaensia
(Warszawa) 12, 1999, 5-85.

Genceva, E. Zapinki rzymskie i poznoantyczne z Novae. - Novaensia (Warszawa)
11, 1998, 7-80.

Genceva, E. Typologie et datation des fibules de la haute epoque romaine de
la Bulgarie du Sud. - Arheologija (Sofia). 38, 1987, 4, 30-43 (in Bulgarian
with summary in French).

Gerov, B. Die Einfaelle der Nordvoelker in den Ostbalkanraum im Lichte der
Muenzschatzfunde I (101-284). In: ANRW II, 6. Berlin-New York 1977. 110-181.

Gerov, B. Inscriptiones latinae in Bulgaria repertae. Sofia 1989.

Getov, L. Coutumes et constructions funeraires chez les Thraces pendant l'
epoque romaine (I-IV e s.). - Arheologija (Sofia) 12, 1970, 1-12.

Goceva, Z./Oppermann, M. Corpus cultus equitis thracii. I (1979), II.1.
(1981), II.2. (1984). Leiden.

Haralambieva, A. Archaeologische Spuren der Goten suedlich der unteren Donau
aus dem 5. Jh. n. Chr. - Archaeologia Austriaca 74, 1990, 79-84.

Iatrus-Krivina. I-V. Berlin 1979-1995.

Ivanov, R. Das roemische Verteidigungssystem an der unteren Donau zwischen
Dorticum und Durostorum (Bulgarien) von Augustus bis Maurikios. - Bericht
der Roemisch-Germanische Kommission (Frankfurt a/M) 78, 1997, 469-640.

Kabakcieva, G. Typologie der rotueberzogene Keramik von Thrakien (1.-4. Jh.)
und der Einfluss der ostroemischen terra Sigillata. - Acta RCRF 36 (in the

Kabakcieva, G. Besonderheiten bei der Herstellung von Gefaesskeramik in der
roemischen Provinz Untermoesien. In: Rei Cretariae Romanae Fautorum. Acta
29/30, 1991, 207-222.

Kabakcieva, G. Die Periodisierung der Keramikproduktion in Thrakien waehrend
der Roemerzeit (1.-4. Jh.). - Balcanica Posnaniensia (Poznan) 5, 1990,

Kabakcieva, G. Keramikversorgung in den Militaerstuetzpunkten an der Unteren
Donau im 1. Jh. n. Chr. und die Politik Roms. - Acta RCRF 35, 33-39,

Kolendo, J./Bozilova, V. Inscriptions grecques et latines de Novae (Mesie
Inferieure). Bordeaux 1997.

Kuleff, I./Djingova, R./Kabakchieva, G. On the Origin of the Roman Pottery
from Moesia inferior (North Bulgaria). - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) III,
1999, 3, 29-38.

Kuzmanov, G. Spaetantike Glasierte Keramik aus Bulgarien. - Archaeologia
Bulgarica (Sofia) II, 1998, 1, 81-95.

Kuzmanov, G. Antike Lampen. Sammlung des National archaeologischen Museums.
Sofia 1992 (in Bulgarian, summary in German).

Kuzmanov, G. Ceramique de la haute epoque byzantine provenant de Thrace et
de Dacie (Ive - le debut du VIIe s.). Sofia 1985 (=Fouilles et Recherches 8)
(in Bulgarian, summary in French).

Le Bronze sculpte de l'epoque romaine (au Musee archeologique national).
Sofia 1984.

Madzarov, M. La route Oescus-Philippopolis (Ier-Vie s.). - Arheologija
(Sofia) 32, 1990, 1, 18-29 (in Bulgarian, summary in French).

Mihailov, G. Inscriptiones Graecae in Bulgaria repertae. I-V. Serdicae

Milceva, A. Die roemischen Bronzen in Moesia inferior. Warsczawa. (in the

Milceva, A. Terra Sigillata und duennwandige Gebrauchskeramik von Moesia
Inferior. Sofia 2000 (in the press).

Manzova, L. Antique Sculpture in Bulgaria. Sofia 1978 (in Bulgarian).

Nenova-Merdjanova, R. Roman Precious Bronze Vessels from Moesia and
Thracia. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) I, 1997, 1, 30-37.

Ovtcharov, D. Forteresses byzantines et bulgares (Ve-Xe s.). Sofia 1982 (in
Bulgarian, summary in French).

Ovtcharov, D./Vaklinova, M. Early-Byzantine Monuments in Bulgaria (4th-7th
c. AD.). Sofia 1978 (in Bulgarian, summaries in Russian, English and

Petrova, S. The Capitals of Roman-Ionic Order from Moesia and Thracia
(I-IV). Sofia 1998 (in Bulgarian, summaries in English and French).

Parnicki-Pudelko, S. The Episcopal Basilica in Novae. Poznan 1995.

Pillinger, R./Popova, V./Zimmermann, B. (eds.). Corpus der spaetantiken und
fruehchristlichen Wandmalereien Bulgariens. Wien 1999.

Poulter, A. Nicopolis ad Istrum: Roman to Early Byzantine City. The Pottery
and Glass. London 1999.

Poulter, A. Nicopolis ad Istrum: A Roman, Late Roman and Early Byzantine
City (Excavations 1985-1992). London 1995.

Popova-Moroz, V. 24 Ancient Mosaics from Bulgaria. Sofia 1987 (in Bulgarian,
summary in English).

Preschlenoff, C. Die antike Stadt an der bulgarischen Schwarzmeerkueste
(Ende 7. Jh. v. Chr. - Anfang 7. Jh. n. Chr.). - Archaeologia Bulgarica
(Sofia) IV, 2000, 2 (in the press).

Preschlenoff, C. Finanzsystem der antiken Staedte an der bulgarischen
Schwarzmeerkueste (1. Jh. v. Chr. - 3. Jh. n. Chr.). - Archaeologia
Bulgarica (Sofia) II, 1998, 1, 64-69.

Raev, D. Die Bronzegefaesse der roemischen Kaiserzeit in Thrakien und
Moesien. - Berichte der Roemisch-Germanische Kommission 58, 1977, 605-642.
Recherches sur la culture en Mesie et en Thrace (Bulgarie) Ie-Ive s.
(=Bulletin de l'Institut d'archeologie 37). Sofia 1987.

Ruseva-Slokoska, L. Roman Jewellery. A Collection of the National
Archaeological Museum. Sofia 1991.

Sarnowski, T. Poznorzymskie stemple legionow doinodunajskich. - Novaensia
(Warszawa) 2, 1991, 9-32.

Sarnowski, T. Wojsko rzymskie w Mezji Dolnej I na polnocnym wybrzezu Morza
Czarnego. Warszawa 1988.

Sultov, B. Ceramic Production on the Territory of Nicopolis ad Istrum
(2nd-4th c. AD). Sofia 1985 (=Terra antiqua balkanica I).

Tacheva-Hitova, M. Eastern Cults in Moesia inferior and Thracia (5th c.
BC-4th c. AD). Leiden 1983.

Torbatov, S. Procop. De Aedif. IV, 7, 12-14 and the Historical Geography of
Moesia secunda. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) IV, 2000, 2 (in the press).

Torbatov, S. The Roman Road Durostorum-Marcianopolis. - Archaeologia
Bulgarica (Sofia) IV, 2000, 1.

Torbatov, S. Quaestura exercitus: Moesia secunda and Scythia under
Justinian. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) I, 1997, 78-87.

Uenze, S. (ed.). Die spaetantiken Befestigungen von Sadovec (Bulgarien).
Ergebnisse der deutsch-bulgarisch-oesterreichischen Ausgrabungen 1934-1937.
I-II. Muenchen 1992 (=Muenchener Beitraege zur Vor- und Fruehgeschichte 43).

Vacheva, K. Constructional and Technical Characteristics of Roman Baths'
Heating in Bulgaria. - Arheologija (Sofia) 1994, 1, 1-8 (in Bulgarian,
summary in French).

Vagalinski, L. Der Zustand der Forschungen nach der spaetroemischen und
voelkerwanderungszeitlichen Drehscheibenkeramik mit eingeglaetteter

Verzierung in Europa. - Archaeologia Bulgarica (Sofia) I, 1997, 1, 38-46.

Vagalinski, L. Roman Bronze Strigils and Rings for Them from Thrace (1st-3rd
c. AD). In: Mols, S., Gerhartl-Witteveen, A. (eds.). Acta of the 12th
International Congress on Ancient Bronzes at Nijmegen, The Netherlands (June
1992). Nijmegen 1995. 435-443.

Vagalinski, L. Donnees numismatique pour des competitions sportives en
Thrace romaine. - Archeologija (Sofia) 36, 1994, 3-4, 6-18 (in Bulgarian,
summary in French).

Vagalinski, L. Zur Frage der ethnischen Herkunft der spaeten Strahlenfibeln
(Finger- oder Buegelfibeln) aus dem Donau-Karpaten Becken (M. 6. - 7.
Jh.). - Zeitschrift fuer Archaeologie (Berlin) 28, 1994, 2, 261-305.

Vagalinski, L. Concernant l'appartenance sociale des gladiateurs en
Thrace. - Arheologija (Sofia) 33, 1991, 1, 28-32 (in Bulgarian, summary in

Vaklinova, M. Problems of the Christian Topography of Inhabited Localities
in Thrace and Moesia (4th-7th c.). In: Acta associationis int. "Terra
antiqua balcanica" (Sofia) V, 1990, 178-186.

Vaklinova, M. Ateliers de la sculpture architecturale a Nicopolis ad Nestum
(Bulgarie). In: Actes du Xe Congres Int. d'Arch. Chret. Thessalonique-Citta
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Vaklinova, M. Mittelalterliche Schmuckstuecke aus Bulgarien. Sofia 1981.

Velkov, V. Roman Cities in Bulgaria. Collected Studies. Amsterdam 1980.

Velkov, V. Cities in Thrace and Dacia in Late Antiquity (Studies and
Materials). Amsterdam 1977.

Velkov, V./Georgieva, S. Bibliographie de l'Archeologie Bulgare (1879-1966).
Deuxieme edition corrigee et augmentee. Sofia 1974.

Vianu, M. Les steles funeraires de la Mesie Inferieure. - Dacia (Bucharest)
29, 1-2, 1986, 57-81.

Youroukova, I. Inventaire des tresors byzantines VIe-VIIIe s. - CNRS
(Paris), 220 p., 8 ind., 2 tab., in the press.

Youroukova, I. Le monnayage des villes en Mesie inferieure et en Thrace
pendant le II-IIIe s. Hadrianopolis. Sofia 1987 (in Bulgarian with summary
in French).