Bulgarian Archaeologist Finds Ancient Roman Jacuzzi Heater at ‘Luxury’ Road Station near Sostra Fortress

Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Hristov shows the heater of the Ancient Roman Jacuzzi in the "luxury" Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress located near Bulgaria's Troyan. Photo: InfoTroyan.eu

Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Hristov shows the heater of the Ancient Roman Jacuzzi in the “luxury” Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress located near Bulgaria’s Troyan. Photo: InfoTroyan.eu

Bulgarian archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ivan Hristov has discovered a heater for an Ancient Roman Jacuzzi during the ongoing excavations of the Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress near the central town of Troyan.

The Roman road station, which was first found by Hristov’s team in the spring of 2014 and is presently being excavated further, has itself been described as a “luxury" Roman motel because of the amenities that it offered for the Roman travelers taking the Via Traiana, the road used by Roman Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD).

The newly found heater for a Roman Jacuzzi consists of a furnace heating up air which is then directed to a shallow pool similar to a modern-day Jacuzzi, reports local news site InfoTroyan.eu.

The Roman Jacuzzi itself is situated right next to a larger indoor swimming pool. Technically, the Bulgarian archaeologists excavating the Roman road station at the Sostra Fortress have already uncovered entire Ancient Roman thermae.

It was part of a luxury complex resembling a modern-day spa resort; it has also been described as a praetorium because it was a meeting space for VIP visitors.

“It was visited by the administration servicing the Roman state post and probably by the Emperors family when they traveled," archaeologist Ivan Hristov is quoted as saying.

“This place was inhabited actively as of about 100 AD. There has been no reconstruction after Sostra stopped functioning in the 5th century AD. That is why everything is preserved, and has a great potential for tourism development. It is not the coins and artifacts which we have found here that are precious. Such [items] can be seen in many places. What’s precious is the preserved architecture," adds Hristov, who is the Deputy Director of Bulgaria’s National Museum of History.

The new discovery at the Ancient Roman fortress Sostra is expected to help it receive the status of an archaeological preserve including the fortress, the road station, and a large Early Christian basilica together with several other ancient buildings located at the point where the Lomeshka River flows into the Osam River.

As the report puts it, tourists will be able to walk around an entire labyrinth of authentic archaeological structures. What is more, the site is easily accessible because it is located by a major contemporary road going through the Troyan Pass of the Balkan Mountains, which in effect mirrors Via Traiana, Emperor Trajan’s Road.

Via Traiana, which runs through the Troyan Pass of the Balkan Mountains, was vital in Roman Emperor Trajan’s wars for conquering the Dacians, the resisting Thracian tribes north of the Lower Danube, in today’s Romania. It linked the Ancient Roman city of Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria) in the Roman province of Thrace, with two major Roman outposts on the Lower Danube frontier, the so called Limes Moesiae: Ulpia Oescus near today’s town of Gigen, and Novae near today’s town of Svishtov, in the Roman province of Moesia Inferior.

Bulgaria’s National Museum of History has declared its intention to propose a “monument of culture” status for the Roman road station near the Sostra Fortress and to invest efforts into the partial restoration of the site in order to help turn it into a cultural tourism destination.

Similar intentions have already been voiced by Troyan Municipality which, together with several other municipalities located at both ends of the Troyan Pass, has taken steps for the recognition of the Ancient Roman fortress Sostra, the Early Christian basilica St. George, and a fully preserved section of the Roman road by the Bulgarian Culture Ministry as “culture monuments of national importance".

The municipalities of Troyan, Sopot, Hisarya, Karlovo, and Pavel Banya have come together for a joint project entitled Via Traiana Balkanica (“Trajan’s Balkan Road"), which was endorsed by the previous Bulgarian Cabinet in the spring of 2014. It is supposed to help set up a year-round alternative tourism destination using archaeological and cultural sites, mineral springs, and the nature of the central Balkan Mountains.

Background Infonotes:

Sostra is an Ancient Roman fortress and road station located near the town of Lomets, 16 km away from the town of Troyan.

It was situated on the major Roman road linking ancient Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria) and the Roman outposts on the Lower Danube such as Ulpia Oescus (near today’s Gigen) and Novae (near today’s Shishtov) via the Troyan Pass in the Balkan Mountains (also known as Trajan’s Road, Via Traiana, or Trajan’s Balkan Road, Via Traiana Balkanica, to distinguish it from Emperor Trajan’s road on the Italian Peninsula).

Sostra’s construction started around 147 AD at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and later became a town with civilian population for a brief period of time.

It became the target of barbarian invasions, and was destroyed in the 4th by the Goths, and completely destroyed by the Huns at the end of the 6th century. Starting in 2002, Sostra has been excavated by Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov from Bulgaria’s National Museum of History in Sofia.

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