Bulgarian Archaeologists to Excavate Ancient Greek, Thracian, Roman City of Heraclea Sintica by Summer’s End

This photo shows the archaeological excavations in the Ancient Greek, Thracian, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica near Bulgaria's Petrich. Photo: Struma Daily

This photo shows the archaeological excavations in the Ancient Greek, Thracian, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica near Bulgaria’s Petrich. Photo: Struma Daily

The 2015 regular archaeological excavations of the Ancient Greek, Thracian, and Roman city of Heraclea Sintica located near the town of Rupite, Petrich Municipality, in Southwest Bulgaria, will take place by the end of the summer.

The new excavations of Heraclea Sintica will be part of the regular annual digs that have been carried out at the ancient city since 2007, explains archaeologist Sotir Ivanov, Director of the Petrich Museum of History, as cited by Radio Focus Pirin.

Ivanov points out that the ruins of Heraclea Sintica are one of the most interesting sites in Petrich Municipality for both the researchers, and the tourists since in the recent years the Petrich Museum of History and the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia have invested a lot of efforts into the excavation, conservation, restoration and exhibition of the ancient city.

The archaeologists now plan to excavate further Heraclea Sintica’s city basilica which has been unearthed only half way. The 3rd century AD church is long 22 meters, and wide 16 meters.

The Bulgarian archaeologists are also going to excavate a building from the 4th century BC, which has not been explored so far, as well as a large staircase in the northern section of Heraclea Sintica’s Roman Forum.

For the first time in recent years, the excavations of Heraclea Sintica in the summer of 2015 will not be funded by the American Research Center in Sofia, and no U.S. experts and students will be involved in the digs.

In their recent excavations, the archaeologists have found hundreds of ancient artifacts at Heraclea Sintica located just 1 km away from the town of Rupite, which is famous as the hometown of Bulgarian clairvoyant Baba Vanga (Vangeliya Gushterova) (1911-1996); it lies at the foot of the 200-meter tall extinct volcano Kozhuh.

Heraclea Sintica was founded around 300 BC by Cassander, King of the Kingdom of Macedon (r. 305-297 BC), who also founded Thessaloniki. It was named Heraclea after the mythical Ancient Greek hero Heracles (Hercules), and Sintica after the Thracian tribe of the Sintians who inhabited the valley of Struma River.

Background Infonotes:

Heraclea Sintica is an Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city located near the town of Petrich in Southwest Bulgaria. It was the center of the ancient region of Sintica along the Struma River, which was inhabited by the Thracian tribe of the Sintians. The ancient city of Heraclea Sintica was mentioned by Homer, Herodotos, and Thycudides in their works. It was founded around 300 BC by Cassander, King of the Kingdom of Macedon (r. 305-297 BC), who also founded Thessaloniki. In the not so distant past, the location of the ancient city of Heraclea Sintica was a matter of contention between archaeologists from Bulgaria and Greece.

In 2002, Bulgarian archaeologists managed to identify the city for sure after they found a Latin inscription dated back to 308 AD, in which Roman Emperor Galerius (r. 293-305 AD as Caesar, 305-311 AD as Augustus) addressed the local urban citizens of Heraclea Sintica responding to a plea to restore their lost civil rights. In the late Antiquity, the city of Heraclea Sintica gradualy waned and was replaced by nearby Sveti Vrach (today’s town of Sandanski) as a regional center. In recent years, Heraclea Sintica has been excavated by Ass. Prof. Dr. Lyudmil Vagalinski, director of Bulgaria’s National Institute of Archaeology with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Sotir Ivanov, director of the Petrich Museum of History.