History Museum in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora to Unveil Restored 4th Century Mosaics from Roman City Augusta Trajana
The Regional Museum of History in the southern Bulgarian city of Stara Zagora is going to unveil and exhibit for the first time a 4th century AD mosaic found in the ruins of the Ancient Roman city Augusta Traiana.
The mosaic entitled “Dionysus’s Procession” is to be shown to the media and the public on August 25, 2015, at 5:30 pm, in the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History.
The Dyonysus’s Procession mosaic was discovered during rescue archaeological excavations in the northern part of the Ancient Roman city of Augusta Traiana, close to its fortress wall.
The archaeological excavations in question were conducted in three consecutive years – from 2009 until 2011. The mosaic decorated a room which was probably a triclinium – a formal meeting and dining room in a Roman building.
The triclinium was 10.1 meters long in the east-west direction but the archaeologists have been unable to find out its precise width in the north-south direction. The mosaic has a total area of 30 square meters.
Based on the archaeological layers of Augusta Traiana discovered during the excavations, the mosaic is dated to the third quarter of the 4th century AD, possibly during the reign of Roman Emperor Julian Apostate (r. 360-363 AD).
The Augusta Traiana – Vereia Archaeological Preserve in Bulgaria’s Stara Zagora features the ruins of the Ancient Roman city of Ulpia Augusta Traiana founded by Roman Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117 AD) (after whom it was named) on the site of a previously existing Ancient Thracian settlement called Beroe. (Some recent research indicates it might have been founded by Trajan’s successor, Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 AD).)
It saw its greatest urban development later under Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (r. 161-180 AD). It quickly became the second most important city in the Roman province of Thrace after Philipopolis (Trimontium), today’s Plovdiv.
The Roman city of Augusta Traiana covered a territory of about 500 decares (app. 125 acres). During the Late Antiquity, it was visited by several Roman Emperors including Septimius Severus (r. 193-211 AD), Caracalla (r. 211-217 AD), and Diocletian (r. 294-305 AD), which is seen as a testimony to its importance.
In the 2nd-3rd century, Augusta Traiana minted its own coins (a total of 874 of them have been found, as of 2016); it is known to have had commercial contacts with faraway regions and cities such as Sparta, Aquincum (today’s Budapest in Hungary), and the province of Syria.
In the middle of the 4th century, Augusta Traiana became one of the major Early Christian centers in the Balkans.
In the Late Antiquity (4th-6th century) the city of Augusta Traiana was once again known under its original Thracian name of Beroe. Much of it was destroyed by barbarian invasions – by the Goths in the 4th century, the Huns in the 5th century, and later by the Avars, Slavs, and Bulgars. The invasions of the Bulgars and Slavs in the late 7th century, around the time of the two peoples formed the First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD), effectively ended the life of the Ancient Thracian and Roman city of Beroe / Augustra Traiana as it was.
It became part of Bulgaria under Khan Tervel (r. 700-718 AD), who called it Boruy. The city was a major bone of contention during the numerous wars between Bulgaria and Byzantium and became known as Vereia after Byzantium conquered the eastern parts of the First Bulgarian Empire in the late 10th century. Bulgaria reconquered it during the early years of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD).
In addition to its Neolithic, Ancient Roman, Byzantine, and medieval Bulgarian heritage, the territory of the city of Stara Zagora is dotted with Ancient Thracian archaeological sites, including more than 30 known temples of the main god according to Thracian mythology, the Thracian Horseman.
The Stara Zagora Neolithic Dwellings Museum is part of the Stara Zagora Regional Museum of History. It features what are described as “Europe’s best preserved homes from the early Neolithic period”. It is based on discoveries made at a Neolithic settlement in the western part of the city dating back to the 7th-6th millennium BC first excavated in 1969 during rescue digs. In addition to the best preserved in situ early Neolithic dwelling in Europe, the museum also features an exhibition of prehistoric art.