Bulgarian Cabinet Grants Dobrich History Museum Excavation Rights for ‘Glorious Rock’ Fortress
Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers has granted the Regional Museum of History in the northeastern city of Dobrich three-year usage rights for archaeological excavations for the property of the Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress where in 2014 the local archaeologists found a Byzantine coin treasure and the belt of an Ancient Bulgar warrior.
The landed property in question is located on the territory of the town of Prilep, Dobrich District, in Northeast Bulgaria, and is close to the town of Debrene, which is popular for its annual folklore festival.
The site of the Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress in Northeast Bulgaria was excavated in 2014 by archaeologists from the Dobrich Regional Museum of History for the first time since the 1980s.
It has a small fortress built to protect an Early Christian basilica from the Late Roman period in the 4th-5th century AD, and was also in use during the Early Byzantine period in the 6th century AD, and the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD); the site also harbors Early Christian rock monasteries, as well as, possibly, Ancient Bulgar settlements.
The most exciting 2014 archaeological discoveries at the Glorious Rock Fortress near Prilep and Debrene included not only the 6th century AD Byzantine treasure of 1,202 coins, and the 16 applications of the belt of an Ancient Bulgar warrior, but also three skathas – long Roman swords found by a local resident and turned in to the museum authorities.
The renewed archaeological excavations of the Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress were supposed to start as early as June 2015.
However, on May 28, 2015, the Town Council of Dobrichka Municipality, which funded the 2014 excavations with a total of BGN 20,000 (EUR 10,200) failed to allocate the new funding for 2015 in a narrow vote in which 9 councilors voted in favor, and 10 councilors abstained.
The vote has led Kostadin Kostadinov, the Director of the Dobrich Regional Museum of History, to criticize the councilors publicly claiming that they “are serving the treasure hunting mafia”.
Kostandinov had requested the allocation of BGN 22,000 (EUR 11,250) as early as December 2014 in order to secure funding for the 2015 summer archaeological excavations. He argues that the funding will help save a lot of ancient and medieval artifacts from the looting treasure hunters, and will create 10 jobs for a period of three months.
It is now expected that the town councilors of the Dobrichka Municipality will vote again in order to pass the decision for allocating the funding for the archaeological research of the Glorious Rock Fortress.
The Late Roman, Early Byzantine, and medieval Bulgarian fortress in the area known as Slavnata Kanara (The Glorious Rock) is located near the towns of Debrene and Prilep, Dobrichka Municipality, Dobrich District, in Northeast Bulgaria. There are traces of civilized life from the Early Iron Age (the 12th – 6th century BC) but the construction of an Early Christian basilica and the fortress are dated to the second half of the 4th century AD. The fortress has several archaeological layers – a Late Roman layer from the 4th-5th century AD, an Early Byzantine lawyer from the 6th century AD, and a Bulgarian (Bulgar) layer from the 10th century AD, the time of the height of the First Bulgarian Empire (r. 632/680-1018 AD). It was destroyed three times – during the barbarian invasions of the Huns in the middle of the 5th century AD, during the invasion of the Slavs and Avars at the end of the 6th century AD, and during the Bulgarian-Byzantine wars at the end of the 10th century AD.
The Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress was the home of a large religious complex including a Christian basilica, which has now been partly excavated by the Bulgarian archaeologists. The basilica is said to be disproportionately large compared with the size of the fortress itself, which is why the Bulgarian archaeologists believe that the fortress was built after the temple in order to protect the religious site. The fortress has an area of 2 decares (app. 0.5 acres). The basilica itself is dated to the Late Roman period, and was in operation until the end of the 6th century AD.
The Starata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress near Debrene and Prilep is located in the woods of the Batovo Valley which starts at the Black Sea coast and continues inland. It is not mentioned in the known historical sources, which is why its real name is unknown. It was first described by the found of modern-day Bulgarian archaeology, Czech-Bulgarian archaeologist Karel Skorpil, at the beginning of the 20th century, and was excavated at the end of the 1980s by Bulgarian archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Sergey Torbatov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology. It was further excavated in 2014 by archaeologists from the Dobrich Regional Museum of History, with lead archaeologist Boyan Totev, and with funding from the Dobrichka Municipality.
The archaeologists found there an amphora containing a treasure of 1,202 6th century AD Byzantine bronze coins of the lowest face value (more specifically attributed to the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565 AD)), three skathas – long Roman swords, and the belt of an Ancient Bulgar warrior, among other artifacts.
During its first archaeological excavations in the 1980s, the Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress yielded another interesting find – an Ancient Bulgar medieval saber from the 9th-10th century AD. The medieval Bulgarian home where the belt was found was made of wattle, wood, and mud; other artifacts found in it include clothing buttons and pottery; the archaeologists believe that the home was destroyed by an arson, most likely when the Slavnata Kanara (Glorious Rock) Fortress was conquered by the troops of Knyaz Svietoslav I Igorevich, ruler of Kievan Rus (r. 945-972 AD) who invaded the First Bulgarian Empire in 968-971 AD), or by the Byzantine forces that conquered the eastern part of the First Bulgarian Empire in 971 AD. The archaeological data indicate that the late 10th century AD was when the Slavnata Kanara Fortress ceased to exist – except for the discovery of part of a Viking sword which is taken to mean that the fortress could have been inhabited at a later period as well – during the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD).