Bulgaria’s National History Museum Receives Ancient Roman Gravestone, Bulgarian Tsars’ Seals Seized from Treasure Hunters

Bulgaria’s National History Museum Receives Ancient Roman Gravestone, Bulgarian Tsars’ Seals Seized from Treasure Hunters

This gravestone seized from treasure hunters near the Ancient Roman city of Abritus in Northeast Bulgaria is said to have belonged to a Thracian aristocrat who was a civil servant in the Roman Empire. Photo: National Museum of History

This gravestone seized from treasure hunters near the Ancient Roman city of Abritus in Northeast Bulgaria is said to have belonged to a Thracian aristocrat who was a civil servant in the Roman Empire. Photo: National Museum of History

Bulgaria’s National Museum of History in Sofia has released a photo of a richly decorated Ancient Thracian – Roman gravestone which together with other archaeological artifacts has been donated to it after having been seized from treasure hunters.

The finds in question have been brought to the Museum by a retired police officer who discovered them after noticing people digging by a road near the Ancient Roman city of Abritus (located close to the northeastern Bulgarian city of Razgrad) while he was driving by early one morning.

The former cop pulled over asking the man what they were doing, leading the apparent treasure hunters to run away, and to abandon their pray, says the National Museum of History in a release, adding that the man took their finds and brought them to the Museum in Sofia.

The discoveries include a gravestone from the 2nd-3rd century AD, which, according to the Director of the Museum Bozhidar Dimitrov, belonged to a rich Ancient Thracian aristocrat who was a civil servant in the Roman Empire.

The ancient gravestone is richly decorated. The first two rows of depictions show six ancient (Greek, Thracian, Roman) deities, including Dionysus, Hercules (Heracles), Hecate, and Hermes, separated by columns.

The second row of the depictions on the gravestone contains the image of a chariot taking the deceased person to the afterworld, and a scene from a funeral feast carried out by the nymphs of Dionysus.

The other finds seized from the treasure hunters are said to be “no less valuable". These include five lead seals, three of which belong to some of the most powerful Bulgarian emperors from the Golden Age of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD): Knyaz Boris I Mihail (r. 852-889; 893), Tsar Simeon I the Great (r. 893-927 AD), and St. Tsar Petar I (r. 927-969 AD). On his seal, Tsar Petar is depicted with his Queen Maria.

One of the other seals belonged to a medieval Bulgarian civil servant named Pisota. The inscription on the fifth seal has not been read yet. The National Museum of History has not released photos of the seals.

The statement says the place where the archaeological finds were seized from the treasure hunters will be kept secret so as not to attract more looters.

Background Infonotes:

Treasure hunting and illegal trafficking of antiques have been rampant in Bulgaria after the collapse of the communism regime in 1989 (and allegedly before that). Estimates vary but some consider this the second most profitable activity for the Bulgarian mafia after drug trafficking. One recent estimate suggests its annual turnover amounts to BGN 500 million (app. EUR 260 million), and estimates of the number of those involved range from about 5 000 to 200 000 – 300 000, the vast majority of whom are impoverished low-level diggers.

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The ruins of the Ancient Thracian and Roman city of Abritus are located outside the northeastern Bulgarian city of Razgrad. For a long time, in the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, the Bulgarian archaeologists and historians thought the Zaldapa Fortress located further to the northeast was the city of Abritus because of the name of the small town of Abrit located near Zaldapa. However, the ruins of Abritus were discovered some 100 km to the southwest, near the city of Razgrad, in 1953. The ruins of Abritus were identified after the discovery of an inscription fragment reading “Abr…". In 1980, on its outskirts Bulgarian archaeologists found a limestone roadside pillar from the reign of Roman Emperor Philip the Arab (r. 244-249 AD) reading in Latin that it stood 1 Roman mile (1,492 meters) from Abritus. The name Abritus was also written on a limestone sacrificial altar dedicated to Hercules (Heracles) dated between 139 and 161 AD, which was found in 1954. The name Abritus is believed to stem from the Latin words “abrumpo" (terminate, interrupt) and abruptus (steepness, slope), and is taken to mean an “interrupted slope".

Abritus (today’s Razgrad) was first an Ancient Thracian settlement established no later than the 5th century BC, and possibly even earlier, with archaeological excavations revealing Late Bronze Age Thracian homes, and Ancient Greek coins of Macedon King Philip II (r. 359-336 BC), and Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 AD), Thracian King Seuthes III of the Odrysian Kingdom (r. ca. 330-ca. 300 AD), and from the Ancient Greek colon of Odessos (today’s Varna) in the 3rd-2nd century BC. An inscription in Ancient Greek discovered in Abritus in 1953 from the 20s AD is dedicated to god Apollo. It dates to the reign of Thracian King Rhoemetalces II, who was a “Client Ruler" in association with his mother Antonia Tryphaena of the Odrysian Kingdom of Thrace under the Romans from 18 to 38 AD. Rhoemetacles is known to have crushed Thracian rebellions against the Romans who declared him “King of the Thracians". Bulgarian archaeologists believe that the Thracian population of Abritus before the establishment of the Roman city consisted of Odrysians (Odrysae) and Gets (Getae), as well as possibly Celts.

The Ancient Roman city of Abritus was built in the 1st century AD on top of an Ancient Thracian settlement; later Abritus became one of the most important Roman cities in the province of Moesia Inferior. It is believed that the Roman city started as a Roman military camp of Сohors II Lucensium around 78 AD, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian (r. 69-79 AD), while some historians believe that the city was founded by Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD). The earliest testimony about the stationing of the Roman cohort Cohors II Lucensium on the territory of today’s Bulgaria is a Roman military diploma from January 7, 78 AD, found in the Roman city of Montanesium, today’s Montana in Northwest Bulgaria. It is also known that in 136 AD Cohors II Lucensium was stationed in Kabile, one of the Ancient Thracians capitals, located near today’s Bulgarian city of Yambol.

The civilian Roman settlement, the so called сanabae legionis, emerged at the end of the 1st and the beginning of the 2nd century AD. Towards the end of the 3rd century AD Abritus acquired many urban features, and in the 4th century AD it was mentioned as a civitas, a city. Abritus was one of the fortifications on one of the main north-south Roman roads going through Sexaginta Prista (today’s Ruse), Marcianopolis or Marcianople (today’s Devnya) – Mesembria (today’s Nessebar) – Deultum (today’s Debelt) – Adrianople (Odrin, today’s Edirne in Turkey). Two other east-west secondary Roman roads passed near it was well: Sexaginta Prista – Marcianopolis – Odessos (today’s Varna), and Nicopolis ad Istrum – Marcianopolis – Odessos. In the later Roman period, the population of Abritus consisted of Romans, Thracians, Greeks, and other settlers from the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. It worshipped the Roman deities from the Capitoline TriadJupiter, Juno, and Minerva, as well as Hercules (Heracles), Hermes, Venus, Hygieia, Epona Regina (a Celtic deity protecting horses, donkeys, and mules), and the Thracian Horseman (Heros), among others. Christianity spread to Abritus in the 2nd century AD; in the 4th century AD Abritus became the seat of a bishop subordinate to the archbishop of Marcianopolis.

Ancient sources mention Abritus in connection with the Battle of Abritus in 251 AD, in which the Roman forces were defeated in the barbarian invasion of the Goths, and Roman Emperor Trajan Decius (r. 249-251 AD) and his co-emperor and son Herennius Etruscus (r. 251 AD) were killed. In 250 AD, about 70,000 Goths led by Gothic chieftain Cniva invaded the Roman Empire by crossing the Danube at Novae. The Goths raided a number of Roman cities reaching as far south as Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv). They were initially beaten by Emperor Trajan Decius at Nicopolis ad Istrum (today’s Gigen). However, in the Battle of Abritus the following year he perished with his son Herennius Etruscus in a swamp near the Beli Lom River. At the beginning of the 4th century AD, during the reign of Roman Emperor Constantine I the Great (r. 306-337 AD), the Romans built a large fortress in Abritus. The city of Abritus had a fortified area of 150 decares (app. 37 acres), four gates, and 35 fortress towers (one of the gates and six of the fortress towers together with a section of the fortress wall remain beneath Razgrad’s pharmaceutical plant producing antibiotics, and cannot be excavated). An unfortified civilian settlement was located on a territory of another 150 decares outside the fortress walls meaning that the total built-up area of Abritus was about 300 decares (app. 75 acres).

Regardless of its robust defenses, however, the Late Antiquity Roman city of Abritus was conquered and ransacked several times by barbarian tribes, including by the Goths in 251 AD, and in 376-378 AD, the Huns of Attila in 447 AD, and the Avars and Slavs in 586 AD. In the Early Christian period, Abritus was the seat of a bishop, and the middle of the 6th century AD, it was rebuilt during the reign of Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565 AD). After it was destroyed by the barbarian invasion of the Avars and Slavs in 586 AD, however, at the end of the 6th century AD, the city of Abritus waned, and was abandoned. The year 586 AD is described as the year of the destruction of a number of Roman cities and strongholds along the Limes Moesiae, the Lower Danube frontier of the Empire, in today’s Bulgaria, including Abritus (today’s Razgrad), Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria (today’s Archar), Bononia (today’s Vidin), Ulpia Oescus (today’s Gigen), Durustorum (today’s Silistra), Marcianopolis (today’s Devnya).

Abritus was resurrected during the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) when at the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 10th century AD (in the 7th century, according to some sources) a Bulgarian fortress was built on top of the Ancient Roman and Early Byzantine fortifications. The Bulgarian fortress at Abritus was ransacked by Knyaz Svietoslav I Igorevich, ruler of Kievan Rus (r. 945-972 AD) who invaded the First Bulgarian Empire in 968-971 AD). The fortress existed until the 1030s-1040s (after the First Bulgarian Empire was defeated by Byzantium in 1018 AD) when it was destroyed by the invading Pecheneg tribes, and has never been populated again. A medieval Bulgarian settlement from the 13th-14th century AD located nearby was called Hrazgrad, today’s Razgrad. It was conquered by the invading Ottoman Turks in 1388-1389 AD.

The archaeological excavations of the ruins of the Thracian, Roman, Byzantine, and Bulgarian city later identified as Abritus began in 1887 by Prof. Anani Yavashov, a Bulgarian naturalist and archaeologist, native of Razgrad (and grandfather of world famous Bulgarian-American architect Christo Javacheff). Czech-Bulgarian archaeologist Karel Skorpil also explored the ruins at the beginning of the 20th century. The systematic archaeological excavations which identified the Roman ruins near Razgrad as the ancient city of Abritus began in 1953 by Prof. Teofil Ivanov, and continued until 1972. One of the most interesting archaeological finds from Abritus is the largest gold treasure from the Late Antiquity to have ever been found in Bulgaria – it contains 835 coins from the 5th century AD weighing a total of 4 kg, and dating to the reigns of a total of 10 Eastern Roman Emperors and 1 Western Roman Emperor.

The Abritus Archaeological Preserve was established by the Bulgarian government in 1984 on a territory of about 1,000 decares (app. 250 acres) including monuments from Ancient Thrace, Ancient Rome, and the medieval Bulgarian Empire. In 2011, Razgrad Municipality started a project for the archaeological conservation and restoration of the Ancient Roman city Abritus worth BGN 6.2 million (app. EUR 3.17 million) most of which was EU funding. The project was supposed to be completed in 2013 but newly revealed archaeological structures necessitated new excavations, and the restoration was wrapped only in the fall of 2014, with final permits issued by the Bulgarian construction authority in May 2015.

Other historical monuments in the northeastern Bulgarian city of Razgrad, in addition to the Abritus Archaeological Preserve, include structures from the period of the Ottoman Yoke (1396-1878/1912) when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. These are the mosque built in 1616 on top of an earlier mosque built by Ibrahim Pasha, a grand vizier of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566 AD), and monuments from Bulgaria’s National Revival Period (the 18th-19th century) such as the clock tower built in 1864 by Tryavna architect Todor Tonchev, and Bulgarian homes with Revival Period architecture in the Varosha Quarter.

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Tsar Simeon I the Great was the ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) in 893-927 AD. He was probably the most powerful Bulgarian leader of all time in his capacity as both a military commander and a patron of spiritual life, culture, and literature. During his reign Bulgaria probably saw its greatest territorial expansion (although some scholars argue that its territory was slightly greater during the reign of Tsar Samuil (r. 977/997-1014 AD)) coving all of Southeast Europe and much of Central Europe (estimates range around 650,000 sq. km.), including all or parts of modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Serbia, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, Hungary, Moldova, and Ukraine, bordering on the three seas – the Black Sea, the Aegean, and the Adriatic. What is deemed more important, however, is that his reign saw the so called Golden Age of Old Bulgarian culture and literature in the Old Bulgarian language (also known today as Church Slavonic), with its cultural influence later spreading to other Slavic peoples in South and Eastern Europe.

The future Tsar Simeon was born in 864 or 865 AD, at about the time the First Bulgarian Empire adopt Christianity as its official and only religion. He was the third son of St. Knyaz Boris I (r. 852-889; 893 AD), and since he was intended to become head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, his father sent him to be educated at the Imperial University of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, also known as the University of the Palace Hall of Magnaura. Simeon studied there between ca. 878 and ca. 888 AD, and because of his erudition, Byzantine chroniclers to refer to him later as “the half-Greek". After his return to Bulgaria, Simeon started participating in the translation of religious works from Greek into Bulgarian at the Preslav Literary School. However, Knyaz Vladimir Rasate (r. 889-893 AD), Knyaz Boris I’s first-born son and successor to the throne, attempted to abandon the recently introduce Christianity and restore paganism. This led the aged Knyaz Boris to lead a de facto coup d’etat removing Vladimir from the throne, and making Simeon the Knyaz (King) of Bulgaria during the Preslav Council (Assembly) of 893 AD which also decided to move the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from Pliska to Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav) in order to do away with any pagan traditions.

The young Knyaz Simeon’s reign did not begin smoothly but with what has been described as the first commercial war in medieval Europe in 894 AD, after Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise moved the marketplace of Bulgarian merchants from the Byzantine capital Constantinople to the city of Thessaloniki. In the ensuing military actions, Bulgaria’s forces defeated the Byzantine troops that met them, which was made easier by the fact that the main units of Byzantium were fighting the Arabs in Asia Minor. The notorious Byzantine diplomacy, however, was able to instigate a “backstabbing" attack on Bulgaria from the north by the Magyars who were ferried by the Byzantine Navy across the Danube near the river’s delta. After initial losses and withstanding a siege in the strong Bulgarian fortress of Drastar (today’s Silistra known as Durostorum in Roman times) on the Danube, together with his allies the Pechenegs, the Bulgarian ruler routed the Magyars in the extremely fierce Battle of Southern Buh (in today’s Ukraine) in 895 AD which eventually led their tribes to retreat to the west and settle in the region of Pannonia essentially founding today’s Hungary.

What followed was a constant military conflict between Bulgaria and Byzantium. The Byzantine army was defeated by the Bulgarian forces in the Battle of Bulgarophygon (today’s Babaeski in Turkey) in 896 AD, who then besieged Constantinople. The war ended with a peace treaty after the Byzantine Empire sued for peace and agreed to pay annual tribute to Bulgaria, and ceded parts of the region of Thrace. After the Arabs plundered the city of Thessaloniki, in 904 AD, Leo VI ceded all Slav-populated territories in today’s Northern Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and Albania in order to dissuade Simeon from capturing Thessaloniki and populating it with Slavs, as the Bulgarian ruler intended. In the meantime, Knyaz Simeon included Serbia as a vassal in the First Bulgarian Empire. The peace generally held until 912 AD when Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise died which led to a succession crisis and strife for the Byzantine throne. After a Byzantine regent refuse to pay the annual tribute to Bulgaria, the troops of the First Bulgarian Empire besieged Constantinople again in 913 AD. In the ensuing negotiations, the Byzantine tribute was paid, and Simeon was promised that the minor Emperor Constantine VII would marry one of his daughters technically allowing him to lay a claim to the throne in Constantinople. The following year, however, the deal was broken by Empress Zoe, Emperor Constantine’s mother, leading to a resumption of the Bulgarian-Byzantine war in which Simeon’s forces captured the city of Adrianople (today’s Edirne in Turkey).

A major clash of the two empires occurred in the summer of 917 AD, when the Byzantines first tried to organize a wide-ranging international coalition against the Bulgarian Empire, and marched against Bulgaria with a huge army of their own led by Byzantine general Leo Phocas (Phokas) the Elder, and a fleet led by Romanus Lecapenus (Romanos Lekapenos), later Byzantine Emperor (r. 920-944 AD). On August 20, 917 AD, in the Battle of Anchialos, also known as the Battle of the Achelous (Acheloos) River near the Black Sea coast, which was one of the largest battles in medieval history, the Bulgarian forces annihilated almost the entire Byzantine army in which only about 2,000 of the total of some 62,000 troops survived. The Bulgarian Emperor personally led a cavalry charge, and his white horse was killed at the height of the battle. Byzantine chronicler Leo the Deacon, who visited the site of the Battle of Anchialos 75 years later, wrote that “piles of bones can still be seen today at the river Acheloos, where the fleeing army of the Byzantines was then infamously slain". The Byzantine defeat at the Battle of the Achelous (Acheloos) River was followed by another Bulgarian military victory in the Battle of Katasyrtai. After his great victory at Anchialos, Knyaz Simeon assumed the title of Tsar, the Slavic-Bulgarian form of Caesar, i.e. Emperor, and more specifically the titles “Basileus of All Bulgarians and Greeks" (“Basileus" being the title of the Byzantine Emperors) and “Autocrat of All Bulgarians and Romans" (referring to the fact that the Byzantine Empire was technically a continuation of the Roman Empire), and began to strive ever more stubbornly to sit on the throne in Constantinople; the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church was promoted from Archbishop to Patriarch. The imperial title of the Bulgarian Tsar and the Patriarchate status of the Bulgarian Church, however, were only formally recognized by Byzantium after Tsar Simeon’s death, in 927 AD, to his heir, St. Tsar Petar I (r. 927-969 AD).

In the last decade of his reign, Tsar Simeon waged even more wars in pursuit of his dream of sitting on the Byzantine throne, which, however, moved further away after in 920 AD Byzantine admiral Romanus Lecapenus (Romanos Lekapenos) removed Empress Zoe as a regent, betrothed his daughter Helene Lekapene to the underage Emperor Constantine VII, and became a Co-Emperor, which is what Bulgaria’s Tsar Simeon had aspired to do. Tsar Simeon waged wars on Byzantium even more fiercely, besieged Constantinople a couple of more times, launched a campaign down south all the way to the Isthmus of Corinth, crushed Serbian revolts and annexed all of Serbia, and even planned a joint attack on Constantinople together with Fatimid Caliph of Egypt, Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah, who was supposed to contribute the Egyptian Navy; the plan failed only because the Byzantines managed to capture the Bulgarian and Egyptian envoys on their way back from Egypt. Of all his victorious wars, Tsar Simeon’s last one – against Croatia in 926 AD – was unsuccessful. He died of a heart failure in his imperial palace in Veliki Preslav on May 27, 927 AD. Byzantine chronicles attribute his death to a magic caused by Byzantine Emperor’s Romanus Lecapenus decapitation of a statue of Simeon held in Constantinople.

While Tsar Simeon’s great territorial expansion and numerous wars, albeit victorious, are a controversial heritage because they are known to have exhausted the resources and the population of the Bulgarian Empire, his undisputedly most important heritage is the so called Golden Agethe thriving and unique Old Bulgarian culture and literature with the use of the Bulgarian (Cyrillic) alphabet which established Bulgaria as the spiritual center of the Slavic peoples. It first started under Simeon’s father, St. Knyaz Boris I Mihail in 886 AD with the arrival of two of the main disciples of St. Cyril and St. Methodius – St. Kliment Ohridskis (Clement of Ohrid) and St. Naum Preslavski (Naum of Preslav) – and the foundation of the Orhid Literary School and the Preslav Literary School. It was in this period that the first Slavic-Bulgarian alphabet, the Glagolitic, was transformed into the second Bulgarian alphabet used today by some 300 million people in Europe and Asia, which is also known international as the Cyrillic.

Under Tsar Simeon’s patronage, the Old Bulgarian medieval scholars were very active in translating Christian texts into Old Bulgarian, essentially the Slavic proto-language, including the Bible, and the works of John Chrysostom, Basil of Caesarea, Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus, Athanasius of Alexandria, and the historical chronicles of John Malalas and George Hamartolus. They also authored a number of original texts in Old Bulgarian, including Yoan Ekzarh’s (John Exarch) Six Days (Shestodnev), Konstantin Preslavski’s (Constantine of Preslav) Alphabetical Prayer and Proclamation of the Holy Gospels, and On Account of Letters by Chernorizets Hrabar (“The Brave Monk", which might have been a pseudonym for Tsar Simeon himself). Tsar Simeon’s capital Veliki Preslav was built up to rival “the Second Rome", Constantinople, with an impressive imperial palace, and dozens of churches and monasteries, including the so called Round or Golden Church, which is expected to be restored in present-day Bulgaria as a cultural tourism site. Because of these achievements, Tsar Simeon was named “the Great" by later Bulgarian historians. In the words of French historian Alfred Nicolas Rambaud (1842-1905), Simeon was the Bulgarian Charlemagne, but he was better educated than our Charles the Great and much greater than him, for he laid down the foundations of literature that belonged to the people."

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St. Tsar Petar I (r. 927-970 AD) was a ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD). He was the second son of Tsar Simeon I the Great (r. 893-927) and his successor. Unlike his father, Tsar Petar I did not wage victorious wars, and dedicated his reign to Christianity, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the Old Bulgarian literature and culture. It was for the most part a period of peace, which, however, ended in a decline by the 960s. Because of his patronage of religion and culture he was canonized as a saint by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. During his reign Tsar Petar I was faced with revolts by two of his brothers claiming the crown; a rebellion in Serbia, then a Bulgarian province; and the rise of the Bogomil Heresy, a medieval Bulgarian sect which subsequently found its way to Western Europe where it was known as Catharism (practiced by the Cathars or Albigensians); it was similar to Paulicianism in Armenia and Eastern Byzantium. Tsar Petar I is also known for his meeting with Bulgaria’s patron saint, St. Ivan Rilski (876-946 AD), who was a hermit in the Rila Mountain.

Relations between Bulgaria and Byzantium worsened after 965 AD, leading Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas (Nikephoros II Phokas, r. 963-969 AD) to advance, and to instigate an attack on Bulgaria from the northeast by Kievan Rus led by Knyaz Sviatoslav I Igorevich of Kiev (r. 945-972). In the resulting campaign, the Kievan Rus ruler defeated the Bulgarian forces and captured some 80 fortresses in Northeast Bulgaria. A second invasion led by Knyaz Svietoslav in 969 AD reached the Bulgarian capital of Veliki Preslav (“Great Preslav"). As a result, Tsar Petar I retreated as a monk in a monastery and died the following year. He was successed by Tsar Boris II (r. 969-971 AD), who waged a war against Byzantium in alliance with the Kievan Knyaz Sviatoslav. He reign ends after the Byzantine forces under Emperor John I Tzimiskes defeated the Bulgarian and Kievan Russian troops and captured the Bulgarian capital Veliki Preslav, after which Tsar Boris II and his brother, later Tsar Roman I, were taken captives to Constantinople. Bulgaria survived in its western lands under the leadership of Comita (Count) Nikola, and his four sons, David, Moisey (Moses), Aron, and Samuil (Samuel), who was Tsar of Bulgaria in 997-1014 AD, known as the Cometopuli Dynasty (House of Cometopuli), and waged a war of attrition against Byzantium until 1018 AD.

While the saintly Tsar Petar I was considered a weak ruler in terms of military and diplomatic relations, he was the longest reigning ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire. He was deemed a good ruler in the Middle Ages, and later Bulgarian leaders who sought to restore Bulgaria’s independence and power adopted his name: Tsar Petar II Delyan (r. 1040-1041 AD) as a rebel leader); Constantine Bodin crowned Tsar Petar III (r. 1072-1071 AD as a rebel leader), and Tsar Petar IV Theodore (r. 1185-1197 AD) who succeeded in restoring Bulgaria and creating the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) together with his brother Tsar Asen I (r. 1186-1196 AD).