Archaeologists Find Traces of Metal Smelting in Roman City Almus in Bulgaria’s Danube Town of Lom
Traces of metal smelting have been found during the rescue excavations of the Ancient Roman city of Almus whose ruins are located in today’s Bulgarian Danube town of Lom.
The archaeologists working on the rescue excavations in the Roman fortress of Almus in the Bulgarian Danube town of Lom, who recently discovered the western gate of the ancient city and found evidence that the fortifications underwent reconstructions during the Late Ottoman period, have wrapped up their 40-day rescue digs, reports local news site DarikNews.
In addition to the traces of metal smelting, the archaeologists have found lots of pottery as well as tiles and bricks with the stamps of Ancient Roman military detachments that participated in the construction of Almus’s fortress wall.
According to lead archaeologist Valeri Stoichkov from the Lom Museum of History, the discoveries made during the rescue excavations of the Roman city are “of serious scientific value”.
“It has turned out that we had come across the northern front of the western fortress gate of Almus. We have found a serious amount of artifacts, even artifacts with the stamps of military detachments, as well as ceramic items. It has also appeared that the traces of metal smelting, which we have found, are of interest for experts in this field, including a scientist from Denmark who has visited us in order to see first-hand the traces of metallurgy in Almus,” Stoichkov explains.
The rescue archaeological excavations in the Danube town of Lom, which are the second major digs at Almus after the excavataions in the 1980s, started over repairs of the water supply network in the town’s Kaleto (“Fortress”) Quarter.
As Lom Municipality is about to launch an all-route project for the rehabilitation of the water supply and sewerage system of Lom which will certainly have to be carried out together with new rescue excavations, archaeologist Valeri Stoichkov thinks and he and his colleagues are yet to discover more Ancient Roman artifacts.
“When the water supply rehabilitation starts, we will certainly find Almus’s “city of the dead” (i.e. the necropolis.). So we must be ready to provide archaeological support,” he notes.
Once the western wall of the Roman city is fully excavated and studied, it will be conserved and exhibited in situ within Lom’s urban environment.
The Ancient Roman fortress Almus was built during the reigns of Roman Emperors Diocletian (r. 284-305 AD) and Constantine the Great (r. 306-337 AD), i.e. the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th century AD. In the 6th-7th century AD, the area was settled by the Slavs. Traces from the medieval Bulgarian Empire are also visible, and during the Bulgarian Middle Ages Lom was one of the most important city fortresses on the Danube together with the city of Bdin / Badin (today’s Vidin) located to the west.
Almus (Lom) together with the Ancient Roman fortresses of Bononia (Vidin) and Ratiaria (Archar) has recently been included in the list of the 27 important Ancient Roman fortifications of the Empire along the Lower Danube, the so called Limes Moesiae, which are expected to apply for recognition by UNESCO as a collective monument of culture.
The ruins of the Ancient Thracian, Roman, Early Byzantine, medieval Bulgarian and Ottoman city of Almus (Artanes) are located in the Kaletata Quarter of today’s Bulgarian Danube town of Lom. The Roman fort and road station of Almus was built at the location of an Ancient Thracian settlement around 29 AD, while the fortress itself was built at the beginning of the 2nd century AD, when it was part of the district of the nearby Roman city and colony Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria (today’s Archar) in the province of Moesia Superior. Almus is believed to have been the ancient name of the Lom River. The Roman city of Almus is located on the Via Istrum, the Roman road going along the Danube, whose construction started during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (r. 19-37 AD). Almus was also the starting point of a Roman road leading from the Danube to Serdica (today’s Sofia). It is believed that in Roman times the Danube port of Almus served both military and commercial vessels. In the middle of the 5th century AD, Almus was captured and ransacked in the barbarian invasions of the Huns. It was later an important city in Early Byzantium, the medieval Bulgarian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. During the Ottoman period the settlement was protected with a rectangular rampart.
Almus was mentioned in the 4th century AD Tabula Peutingeriana (the Peutinger Map showing cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire, covering Europe, North Africa and parts of Asia), and was mentioned in the so called Antonine Itinerary (Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, “The Itinerary of Emperor Antoninus”), an Ancient Roman register of road stations. Almus was marked on some Western European maps from the 16th-17th century. The name of Almus has been found in Latin inscriptions on epigraphic monuments explored by 19th and early 20th century archaeologists such as Bogdan Filov, Gavril Katsarov, Vaclav Dobruski, Felix Kanitz, and Konstantin Josef Jirecek.
The archaeological excavations of Almus have explored a 70-meter section from its western fortress wall, which is 2.2 meters wide, and was 200 meters long. The total area of the Almus Fortress is about 41 decares (app. 10.1 acres), and is shaped like a pentagon with round fortress towers at its angles. The discovered archaeological artifacts are stored in the Lom Museum of History. The Almus Fortress has not been restored even though it harbors great potential as a cultural tourism site. The fortress walls are made from river stones, and the city had two water pipelines – one made of clay, and another one made of lead. It is believed that Almus did not develop crafts because of its proximity to Colonia Ulpia Ratiaria. The necropolis of Almus contains masonry graves, and sarcophagi.
Almus was discovered for modern-day archaeology in 1864 by Austro-Hungarian geographer and archaeologist Felix Kanitz. At the end of the 19th century it was explored by Dimitar Marinov and Czech-Bulgarian historian Konstantin Josef Jirecek. In 1925, an archaeological society called Almus was founded in the town of Lom. Almus was granted the status of a “monument of culture of national importance” by the Bulgarian government in 1971. It was excavated in 1986-1990 by a team of the Lom Museum of History and the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.