“As we started to uncover the ancient fortress wall, we started asking ourselves a lot of questions, and, of course, we had to keep digging to reach the wall’s foundations. That’s how we stumbled upon the skeleton," explains Yotov, as cited by Varna Utre.
The working hypothesis of the Varna archaeologists is that the skeleton belongs to a man who died during the construction of the fortress wall of ancient Odessos, and that his remains were laid in a pit originally dug up as a construction ditch for the wall foundations which was also “utilized" as a grave.
The man’s death might have been caused by a work-related accident or a different type of occurrence at the time the wall was being erected, according to Yotov.
Most of the upper body part of the skeleton found in Varna was lying under the newly discovered fortress wall of ancient Odessos. Photo: TV grab from Nova TV
“It is possible that someone used the pit, which had been dug up [for construction purposes], to bury the body," he says, stressing that the body was originally buried under 3 meters of earth.
Since graves of such depth are very rare, this is taken to mean the pit must have been dug up as a construction ditch at the time when Odessos’s fortress wall was being erected.
Further evidence of a burial, according to the Varna archaeologists, is that the tall man’s skeleton lies in an east-west position, and his hands are placed on his waist.
Yotov himself says he sees nothing “exceptional" about the discovery of the skeleton. Yet, as it took the archaeologists a while to unearth the entire skeleton, passers-by in the downtown of the Bulgarian city of Varna have started speculating about the fate of the tall man whose skeleton they could see.
Some have even been quick to describe the ancient man as a representative of the “long extinct race of Atlantis giants".
“There are no indications that this man was a vampire, an Atlantis giant, or anything like that,"archaeologistValeri Yotov has commented jokingly, apparently referring to a host of discoveries in Bulgaria in recent years of impaled medieval skeletons, apparently to protect them from turning into vampires after their deaths.
A more realistic, though also questionable hypothesis voiced by some of the onlookers in the street is that the tall man might have been the victim of a crime back in the 4th century AD, and that the construction ditch was used to get rid of his body. However, the local archaeologists appear hardly intent on exploring such guesses.
The rescue digs of ancient Odessos are set to continue for a few more weeks, with the Varna archaeologists believing that the main gate of the ancient fortress might be located near the site of their recent discoveries.
The dawn of Varna‘s history dates back to the dawnof humancivilization, the EneolithicVarnaNecropolis being especially well known with the discovery of the world’s oldest find of gold artifacts dating back to the 5th millenium BC.
Ancient Odessos is considered the precursor of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna. It was founded by Miletian Greek colonists at the end of 7th century BC, the earliest Greek archaeological material dating back to 600-575 BC. However, the Greek colony was established within an earlier Ancient Thracian settlement, and the name Odessos had existed before the arrival of the Miletian Greeks and might have been of Carian origin. Odessos as the RomancityofOdessus became part of the Roman Empire in 15 AD when it was incorporated in the Roman province Moesia. Roman Odessos is especially known today for its well preserved public baths, or thermae, the largest Roman single structure remains in Bulgaria, and the fourth largest Roman public baths known in Europe.
The First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD) conquered Odessos (Varna) from Rome‘s successor, the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, in the late 7th century. It is even believed that the peace treaty in which the Byzantine Empire recognized the ceding of its northern territories along the Danube to Bulgaria was signed in Odessos. The v(val) that the first ruler of Danube Bulgaria, Khan (or kanas) Asparuh built at the time as a defense against future Byzantineincursionsisstill standing. Numerous Ancient Bulgar settlements around Varna have been excavated, and the First Bulgarian Empire had its first two capitals Pliska (681-893 AD) and Veliki (Great) Preslav (893-970 AD) just 70-80 km to the west of Varna. It is suggested that the name of Varna itself is of Bulgar origin. In the Middle Ages, as a coastal city, Varna changed hands between Bulgaria and Byzantium several times. It was reconquered for the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) by Tsar Kaloyan (r. 1197-1207 AD) in 1201 AD.