Bulgarian Archaeologists to Excavate for the First Time Thracian Black Sea City Ranuli Dating Back to Trojan War Era

Bulgarian Archaeologists to Excavate for the First Time Thracian Black Sea City Ranuli Dating Back to Trojan War Era

The Lion's Head Hill at the Beglik Tash plateau on the Black Sea coast is where the 2nd millenium BC Ancient Thracian city and fortress Ranuli is located. Photo: Sinkuchi, Wikipedia

The Lion’s Head Hill at the Beglik Tash plateau on the Black Sea coast is where the 2nd millenium BC Ancient Thracian city and fortress Ranuli is located. Photo: Sinkuchi, Wikipedia

Bulgarian archaeologists are going to excavate for the first time the Ancient Thracian city Ranuli near the Black Sea town of Primorsko, located on the plateau of the Ancient Thracian megalithic shrine Beglik Tash, which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC, the era of the Crete-Mycenaean Civilization and of the Trojan War.

Ranuli will be excavated by archaeologists from Bulgaria’s National Museum of History starting at the beginning of June, 2015, its Director Bozhidar Dimitrov has announced, as cited by the Bulgarian daily Standart.

The Ancient Thracian city and fortress of Ranuli was explored by Czech-Bulgarian brothers Karel and Hermann Skorpil, the founders of modern-day Bulgarian archaeology, at the end of the 19th century, and there were also explorations and probes there in the 1970s but it has never been excavated.

It is the structure of Ranuli’s fortress wall and the ceramics found lying around that led the Bulgarian archaeologists to date it to the middle and second half of the 2nd millennium BC.

Last week, the Bulgarian Black Sea resort town of Primorsko opened its brand new Museum of History whose archaeological collections feature finds from the numerous prehistoric, ancient, and medieval settlements in its small region on Bulgaria’s Southern Black Sea coast.

Primorsko is not a new town, as some people mistakenly tend to believe. It used to be a small but strong fortress (Ranuli), and there were several large ancient and medieval cities in its region," the Director of Bulgarian National Museum of History Bozhidar Dimitrov said at the opening of the Primorsko Museum of History.

He reminded of the Malamirovo (or Hambarli) Inscription of Khan (or Kanas) Krum (r. 803-814), ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), which says that Ranuli was part of Bulgaria together with other fortresses in the region.

Background Infonotes:

The Ancient Thracian city of Ranuli is situated 5 km north of the modern-day Bulgarian Black Sea resort town of Primorsko, Burgas District. It is located on the Beglik Tash plateau, which is also the site of an Ancient Thracian megalithic shrine, and 1 km away from the mouth where the Ropotamo River flows into the Black Sea. Its fortress is located on a rocky hill known today as “The Lion’s Head", which was created by the paleo-vulcano “Rosen" some 70-65 million years ago. The ancient city Ranuli had not been excavated until the beginning of the 21st century because it is located in the Ropotamo Nature Preserve.

The structure of Ranuli’s fortress wall has led the archaeologists to date it to the era of the Crete-Mycenaean Civilization, 1,600-1,400 BC, which is about the same period when the Ancient Thracian megalithic rock city of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria flourished; it certainly was a thriving city at the time of the Trojan War, ca. 1,300-1,200 BC. Traces of prehistoric life have also been discovered but the fortress construction destroyed much of the earlier remains. During the time of the Roman Empire Ranuli is believed to have been one of the major cities on the Western Black Sea coast. Ruins of a medieval church indicate that the Ranuli Fortress was also used by the Byzantine Empire and the Bulgarian Empire in the Middle Ages.

According to the Malamirovo (or Hambarli) Inscription of Khan (or Kanas) Krum (r. 803-814), ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD), which was recorded in stone in 813 AD, and in the Greek language, the fortress of Ranuli, together with other fortresses on the western Black Sea coast were part of Bulgaria.

Legends from the 19th century have it that Bulgarian Voevode Valchan, a guerrilla fighter against the Ottoman Empire, used the fortress as a hideout, and hid a treasure of gold coins down a well there after robbing a Turkish ship in the mouth of the Ropotamo River. That is why it is also known as “Valchan’s Kale" (“kale “is the Turkish word for fortress).

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The Ancient Thracian shrine of Beglik Tash near the Bulgarian Black Sea resort of Primorsko is located on the plateau with the same name, which also harbors the Ancient Thracian city Ranuli. The Beglik Tash Shrine has been explored by Bulgarian archaeologists have explored since 2002. Archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov has discovered there a second “womb-case" located under the Lion’s Head hill, after having found one in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains. The cave goes down to a depth of five meters. Inside, Ovcharov has found ceramics from the Early Iron Age (10th-6th century BC), the Antiquity, and the Middle Ages, as well as a man-made stone altar at the end of the natural cave which proves that it was used as a shrine. Every day at noon, a ray of sunlight enters the narrow entrance of the cave, and projects itself on the back of cave. This is precisely the concept of the Ancient Thracian womb-caves described by late Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Alexander Fol, the founder of thracology, the study of Ancient Thrace. Fol hypothesized that some caves in Bulgaria where the sunlight entered only at certain times of the day where seen by the Thracians as acts of symbolic fertilization of the Earth womb or the Mother Goddess by the sun phallus of the Sun God creating fertility.

In the vicinity of the cave under the Lion’s Head hill at Beglik Tash archaeologist Tsonya Drazheva has discovered over 15 dolmens from the Early Iron Age (10th-6th century BC) as well as the famous megalithic shrine of Beglik Tash where she has found two giant stone circles created humans.