18th Century Ottoman Turkish Inscription, Byzantine Coins Found in Bulgaria’s Zimovina

This Ottoman Turkish inscription which appears to be from 1785 has been found inside the wall of a house in Bulgaria's Zimovina believed to have been an Islamic religious school. Photo: Zaman

This Ottoman Turkish inscription which appears to be from 1785 has been found inside the wall of a house in Bulgaria’s Zimovina believed to have been an Islamic religious school. Photo: Zaman

An 18th century Ottoman inscription in Turkish as well as unidentified Byzantine coins have been found in the town of Zimovina, Stambolovo Municipality, in Southern Bulgaria.

The inscription was found inside one of the walls of the house of a local man, Erol Murad, reports the Bulgarian Turkish daily Zaman.

The inscription written in Ottoman Turkish in the traditional Arabic alphabet mentions the date “1,200 according to Hijri".

Converted to the Gregorian Calendar, this date from the Hijri, or the Islamic Calendar, translates to 1785, i.e. the end of the 18th century AD.

The town of Zimovina in Bulgaria’s Haskovo District is located in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains.

It was founded in the 18th century by 11 families who settled near existing Ottoman Turkish barracks. The old Turkish name of the town means “Large Barracks".

In 1928, the village was settled by Bulgarian refugees from the region of Aegean Thrace located in today’s Northern Greece.

According to Erol Murad, his home used to be an Islamic Religious School with a mosque built by the Ottoman soldiers residing in the barracks.

Murad has acted upon the advice of another local man urging him to tear down the back part of his house because of legends saying that there used to be an old water fountain there.

The locals believe that the Ottoman inscription contains information about who built the alleged old water fountain there. However, the full inscription is yet to be deciphered.

These allegedly Byzantine coins have been found near the ruins of a Byzantine fortress near the town of Zimovina in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Zaman

These allegedly Byzantine coins have been found near the ruins of a Byzantine fortress near the town of Zimovina in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Zaman

Near the ruins of a long abandoned Byzantine fortress known as Kaleto located nearby, Murad has also found what appear to be Byzantine coins showing the image of a ruler and a cross.

Kale" is a Turkish word meaning “fortress" which is still used in today’s Bulgaria to designate some of the thousands of ancient and medieval fortresses dotting the Bulgarian landscape, especially fortresses whose actual name has been lost.

Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov is expected to arrive in the town of Zimovina in order to examine the inscription and the other archaeological finds.

The locals hope that the authorities in Bulgaria’s Stambolovo Municipality will help them preserve the finds.

“Nobody has come to see the ancient coins and the inscription yet. We urge the authorities to visit our town. We wish to develop cultural tourism here," Murad is quoted as saying.

Today’s Bulgaria features a number of Ottoman monuments as it was part of the Ottoman Empire between 1396 and 1878/1912, after the invading Ottoman Turks conquered the medieval Bulgarian Empire which existed from the 7th until the 14th century AD.

Unfortunately, while they built historical and archaeological monuments of their own, the Ottomans destroyed a huge number of Bulgaria’s once glorious medieval cities, fortresses, and monasteries.

This is one of the reasons, among an array of others, why the Ottoman period in Bulgaria’s history is known as the Ottoman Yoke.

Nonetheless, modern-day Bulgaria has taken care to preserve Ottoman Era monuments just like the numerous other historical and archaeological monuments on its territory from the Prehistory, Ancient Thrace, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and the Bulgarian Empire.

Also check out these other recent stories about Ottoman archaeological monuments in Bulgaria:

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