Archaeologists Find Pottery Kilns in Unknown Roman Town in Rescue Excavations in Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni

One of the 52 furnaces for baking ceramic items discovered at the Ancient Roman villa estate near Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni. Photo: TV grab from News7

One of the 52 kilns for baking ceramic items discovered at the Ancient Roman villa estate near Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni. Photo: TV grab from News7

A total of four kilns for baking pottery and an ancient water well have been discovered by the three teams of archaeologists working on the rescue excavations in the northern Bulgarian town of Pavlikeni which is rehabilitating its water supply and sewerage system.

Late week, the archaeologists in Pavlikeni discovered Ancient Roman ceramic vessels from the period of the Late Antiquity, the 2nd-3rd century AD

They point out that the newly found pottery baking kilns in the town of Pavlikeni are just like the more than 50 kilns in the Ancient Roman ceramic factory located in a Roman military veteran’s villa outside the modern-day town.

The archaeologists have also found a water well located about 1.5 meters below the streets of today’s Pavlikeni, with water springing from it when it was reached.

The new discoveries prove that the modern-day town lies on top of an Ancient Roman town, or in the very least, a Roman villa estate, whose name is unknown.

Archaeologist Bogdan Sultov, who excavated the Ancient Roman ceramic factory nearby in the 1970s, conducted excavations in Pavlikeni in 1959 discovering a Late Antiquity necropolis, and stipulating that it was the location of an unknown Roman town.

The discoveries made by the Bulgarian archaeologists indicate that the Roman town or villa in today’s Pavlikeni dates to the second half of the 2nd century AD. The necropolis has now been re-excavated as part of the rescue digs but no new graves have been found.

The rescue excavations in Pavlikeni have led the local authorities to redirect their funding for archaeological digs thus delaying the renewed excavations of the Roman ceramic factory and the 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 Municiplaity has allocated BGN 9,000 (app. EUR 4,600) for the archaeological excavations necessitated by the recent discoveries. 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.

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.

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Background Infonotes:

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.

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