This fragment from a marble slab with a partially preserved inscription in Latin indicates that Emperor Trajan built a bridge near today’s Bulgarian town of Troyan. Photo: National Museum of History
A fragment from an Ancient Roman inscription which may be connected with the construction of a bridge during the reign of Emperor Trajan (r. 98-117) has been discovered in the area of what once was a Roman road station near the town of Beli Osam, Trayan Municipality, in Central Bulgaria.
The Roman road station in question was called Ad Radices; its ruins, which have never been excavated and are mostly destroyed, are located in an area called “Kamen Most" (“Stone Bridge"). It was situated on the Via Traiana, Emperor Trajan’s Road.
Via Traiana, which runs through the Troyan Pass of the Balkan Mountains, was vital in Roman Emperor Trajan’s wars for conquering the Dacians, the resisting Thracian tribes north of the Lower Danube, in today’s Romania.
The road connected Ancient Roman city of Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria) in the Roman province of Thrace, with two major Roman outposts on the Lower Danube frontier, the so called Limes Moesiae – Ulpia Oescusnear today’s town of Gigen and Novae near today’s town Svishtov, in the Roman province of Moesia.
The find, which made its way to the the Museum of Crafts and Applied Arts in Troyan, was first documented by Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov, Deputy Director of the National Museum of History in Sofia, who has been excavating the Sostra Fortress (also located in Troyan Municipality) and a Roman road station next to it, and has researched the road stations along the Via Traiana.
Hristov first dated the Roman inscription back to the rule of Emperor Commodus (r. 161-192 AD), the Museum says.
In early October 2015, the marble slab fragment was taken to the National Museum of History in Sofia where it was examined by Assist. Prof. Nikolay Sharankov from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski", an expert in Antiquity epigraphic monuments.
According to Sharankov, even though the inscription is only partly preserved, the imperial title of Emperor Marcus Ulpius Traianus (Trajan) can be made out in it, and so can the names of Roman consuls which were also mentioned.
The Latin word for “bridge" can be seen in the last line leading to the conclusion that the inscription had to do with the construction of a bridge right after the Second Dacian War of Emperor Trajan (106 AD).
The Museum says the Roman bridge in question was probably built on the spot of today’s stone bridge over the Knezha River flowing through the town of Balkanets.
It also points out that this is the first known epigraphic monument from the rule of Emperor Trajan to have been found along the Via Traiana road between Ulpia Oescus (Gigen) and Philipopolis (Plovdiv).
The inscription is seen as further evidence that today’s Bulgarian town of Troyan was indeed named after the Roman Emperor. Emperor Trajan built major infrastructure for the Roman road whose route today goes through the southern parts of the town.
The Museum has announced that it plans to publish a book on the Roman road stations in the region of Troyan which will include previously unknown information from local epigraphic monuments.
Sostrais an Ancient Roman fortress and road station located near the town of Lomets, 16 km away from the town of Troyan.
It was situated on the major Roman road linking ancient Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv in Southern Bulgaria) and the Roman outposts on the Lower Danube such as Ulpia Oescus (near today’s Gigen) and Novae (near today’s Shishtov) via the Troyan Pass in the Balkan Mountains (also known as Trajan’s Road, Via Traiana, or Trajan’s Balkan Road, Via Traiana Balkanica, to distinguish it from Emperor Trajan’s road on the Italian Peninsula).
Sostra’s construction started around 147 AD at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and later became a town with civilian population for a brief period of time.
It became the target of barbarian invasions, and was destroyed in the 4th by the Goths, and completely destroyed by the Huns at the end of the 6th century. Starting in 2002, Sostra has been excavated by Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov from Bulgaria’s National Museum of History in Sofia.