Eastern necropolis of ancient Serdica found at Sofia construction site

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The eastern necropolis of the ancient city of Serdica has been found during construction work at the site of the former Serdica cinema in Sofia, which is to be the location of the Hyatt Regency Sofia hotel in the Bulgarian capital.

Eastern necropolis of ancient Serdica found at Sofia construction site

At the site, next to the Vassil Levski Monument, six family tombs and 20 pit burials were found, though it appears they were damaged during the construction of buildings at the site in the 20th century.

According to a report on April 4 by public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television, archaeologists were not surprised by the find, because they knew roughly where the site of the eastern necropolis was.

The family tombs appear to have been damaged during construction work in the 1950s and 1960s.

Yulian Meshekov, leader of the archaeological excavations, said that the tombs were cut practically at foundation level, with little of their higher reaches preserved, probably as a result of the construction work in those past decades.

Eastern necropolis of ancient Serdica found at Sofia construction site

The tombs are believed to date from the early Christian period, between the fourth and sixth centuries, when it was not customary to leave burial gifts. There were no remains in them, which means that over the centuries, they had been subject to vandalism.

Human remains were found in the 23 intact pit burials between the tombs.

The bones will be sent to Austria for carbon analysis. The dating of the burials will help to shed light on the history of the site.

The report noted that it is yet to be decided whether the broken tombs will be preserved or covered by the new construction.

Three children’s graves found at necropolis in Plovdiv’s Great Basilica site

Archaeological work has also 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.

Three children’s graves found at necropolis in Plovdiv’s Great Basilica site

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 podtepeto.com 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.

Three children’s graves found at necropolis in Plovdiv’s Great Basilica site

“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.

Three children’s graves found at necropolis in Plovdiv’s Great Basilica site

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.

Source: The Sofia Globe [April 05, 2017]

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