Archaeologists Unearth Medieval Homes from 3 Archaeological Layers in Capital of First Bulgarian Empire Pliska

The city of Pliska built by the Ancient Bulgars in the 7th century AD may have been the largest city by territory in all of medieval Europe when its Outer City is taken into account. Photo: BNR

The city of Pliska built by the Ancient Bulgars in the 7th century AD may have been the largest city by territory in all of medieval Europe when its Outer City is taken into account. Photo: BNR

Medieval homes from three archaeological layers covering the period from the middle of the 9th century AD until the second half of the 11th century AD have been unearthed during the 2015 summer excavations in Pliska, the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) between 680 and 893 AD.

In addition, the archaeologists have excavated a small wooden rampart in Pliska discovering over 200 different artifacts.

As an archaeological site Pliska is especially interesting as an archaeological site for a number of reasons, including its huge area, and its planning according to the tradition of the Ancient Bulgars after they settled south of the Danube, in today’s Northern Bulgaria, in the second half of the 7th century AD.

According to some experts, Pliska may have been the largest city by territory in medieval Europe when its Outer City is taken into account.

The artifacts discovered over the 2015 summer digs at Pliska have to do with the everyday life of the people in the First Bulgarian Empire in the 9th-11th century AD, lead archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Pavel Georgiev has told Radio Focus Shumen.

They include coins, household items, tools, belt buckles, vessels and decorations; they are made primarily of copper, bronze, and ceramics.

One of the very interesting finds is a set of six intact household vessels discovered inside a stove in one of the medieval Bulgarian homes.

The total area in the Ancient Bulgar city of Pliska excavated by the archaeologists during the 2015 summer digs is 300 square meters; it is located in the northwestern section of the Inner City of Pliska.

The uppermost archaeological layer found on that territory features stone buildings from the 11th century; that is, after the First Bulgarian Empire was conquered by Byzantium in 1018 AD.

“[These stone buildings] are almost destroyed, they are sometimes hard to discern. They are typical about the last of phase of the life of Pliska, ca. 1060s-1070s AD," explains Georgiev.

As part of the earlier layer dating back to the first half of the 11th century, the archaeologists have excavated about 20 semi-pit-houses (the so called sunken featured buildings).

Four of these pit-houses have been found to have been destroyed simultaneously in a major fire.

Other revealed structures from this time period include stoves and kilns for baking bread and a flour-milling facility which provide additional information for the everyday life of the population of Pliska at the time.

The earliest layer excavated by Georgiev’s team dates back to the second half of the 9th century and the beginning of the 10th century.

“These are wooden structures with well established foundations whose planning we are yet to explore. I hope we will be able to achieve this during the next archaeological season," the lead archaeologist is quoted as saying.

In addition to the said archaeological layers, the archaeologists have explored a rectangular medieval well; they have descended to a depth of 11 meters.

According to Georgiev, the well in question was for common use, and was in operation in the first half of the 11th century.

The archaeologist says the results from the 2015 summer excavations in Pliska are impressive since the discoveries provide new information not just about the urban area of the earliest Bulgarian capital south of the Danube but also about the life and culture of medieval Bulgaria as a whole.

Also check out our other recent stories about one of the medieval Bulgarian capitals Pliska:

Great Basilica in Capital of First Bulgarian Empire Pliska Modeled after Old St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Bulgarian Scholars Conclude

Archaeologists Find Upsilon, Swastika Signs in Ancient Bulgar Aul in Northeast Bulgaria

Shepherd Finds 8th Century AD Gold Coin of Byzantine Emperor Constantine V Copronymus near Medieval Bulgarian Capital Pliska

Bulgarian Archaeologists Reach Water in Holy Well in Great Basilica in Early Medieval Capital Pliska

Archaeologists Discover Grave of Bulgaria’s First Christian Martyr, Crown Prince St. Boyan Enravota

Silver Buckles of Ancient Bulgar Warrior Aristocrats Displayed for the First Time by Bulgaria’s National Museum of History

Bulgaria’s Cabinet Provides Major Funding for Excavations, Restoration of 5 Sites in Early Medieval Capital Pliska

Bulgaria’s National History Museum Urges Excavation, Restoration of Great Basilica in Early Medieval Capital Pliska

Bulgaria’s Govt to Pour Major Funding into Archaeological Excavations of Early Medieval Capital Pliska

Bulgaria Celebrates 1,150 Years since Adoption of Christianity under St. Knyaz Boris I Mihail during First Bulgarian Empire

Background Infonotes:

Pliska and Veliki Preslav (Great Preslav) are two of the capitals of the First Bulgarian Empire. Pliska was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in 680-893 AD, and Veliki Preslav in 893-970 AD, at the height of the Bulgarian state. The state capital was moved from Pliska to Veliki Preslav, a new medieval city nearby, in 893 AD in order to seal Bulgaria’s adoption of Christianity and the Bulgarian (Slavic, Cyrillic) script (in 865 and 886 AD, respectively). The ruins of both Pliska and Veliki Preslav can be seen today in the Shumen District in Northeast Bulgaria.