Late Antiquity Roman Pottery Dug Up by Construction Workers in Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni, Delays Excavations of Roman Ceramic Factory
Ancient Roman ceramic vessels from the period of the Late Antiquity, the 2nd-3rd century AD, have been unearthed during construction works in the streets of the northern Bulgarian town of Pavlikeni leading the local authorities to redirect their funding for archaeological digs thus delaying the renewed excavations of a Roman ceramic factory and a Roman villa estate.
The town of Pavlikeni is presently rehabilitating its water supply and sewerage system in a major infrastructure project with EU funding amounting to over BGN 31 million (app. EUR 15 million).
According to Pavlikeni Mayor Emanuil Manolov, the discovery of Roman ceramics during the construction works comes as no surprise since some local residents have been finding Roman pottery in their backyards for years.
Pavlikeni Municipality has now moved to enlist three teams of archaeologists to work on the rescue excavations as part of the water supply rehabilitation project.
“We are obliged to stop work, and call up archaeological teams. What is more, as it is our municipality that carries out the rehabilitation works, we also need to procure funding for the archaeologists’ work,” Manolov says, as quoted by Darik Radio.
He adds that Pavlikeni Municiplaity will allocate BGN 9,000 (app. EUR 4,600) for the archaeological excavations necessitated by the new discovery.
This sum had in fact been slated by the municipal budget authority for the 2015 summer excavations at the Ancient Roman ceramic factory and Roman villa estate located in Pavlikeni.
However, the municipality does not have additional funding meaning the already scheduled excavations of the 2nd century AD Roman villa with its ceramic production center will have to be put on hold for the rest of 2015.
“Unfortunately, we will be unable to put aside money for the Roman ceramic center where last year we renewed the excavations after a 33-year pause. Those were training excavations, too, because students from St. Cyril and St. Methodius Veliko Tarnovo University also participated. Back then we provided BGN 9,000, and the University gave another BGN 2,000 but apparently we won’t be able to do the same this year,” the Pavlikeni Mayor explains.
Pavlikeni Municipality has recently started the partial restoration of the Ancient Roman ceramic factory at a Roman military veteran’s villa estate after winning a grant from the European Economic Area and Norway Grants mechanism worth EUR 736,000.
The project for the restoration of the Roman pottery-making center is being carried out by Pavlikeni Municipality in partnership with the Pavlikeni Museum of History, and is to be completed by the end of April 2016.
The Ancient Roman ceramics factory and Roman military veteran’s villa near the town of Pavlikeni in Central Northern Bulgaria was found in 1971 by Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan Sultov who excavated it for about a decade.
It is the best researched Ancient Roman ceramics factory in Southeast Europe. It also especially notable because today it has been turned into an open-air museum ceramics production during the Roman Era, featuring a large number of preserved ancient kilns as well as a restoration of the ancient manufacturing process housed in modern-day buildings made of ancient materials.
The Ancient Roman ceramics production center near Pavlikeni is located on a plot of 139 decares (app. 34.3 acres). It was part of the villa estate of a Roman military veteran, and is dated to the end of the 1st century AD.
The ceramic production started at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. Archaeological excavations have revealed a total of 52 kilns for baking household and construction ceramics which was traded and sold in the entire region.
The Ancient Roman villa estate with its ceramic factory was destroyed in 170 AD by the Costoboci, then rebuilt, and ultimately abandoned for good after 235 AD, possibly because of the barbarian invasion by the Goths and Carpi in 238-239 AD.
Archaeologist Bogdan Sultov’s excavations of the Roman ceramic center near Pavlikeni were terminated in the 1979 (Sultov passed away in 1982), and were resumed only in the summer of 2014 with funding from Pavlikeni Municipality. In 2015, the Municipality and the Pavlikeni Museum of History won a EUR 736,000 grant for the partial restoration and rehabilitation of the site. In addition to Ancient Roman buildings and kilns, the excavations there have revealed numerous ceramic vessels, tools, jewelry, and even Ancient Roman child toys.