The newly built Ancient Roman wooden keep in the Ancient Thracian and Roman city Kabile near Bulgaria’s Yambol, with Zaychi Vrah (Rabbit’s Mount), the site of an Ancient Thracian shrine, visible in the background. Photo: Monitor daily
A wooden Ancient Roman fortification has been built in the Archaeological Preserve Kabile near today’s city of Yambol in Southern Bulgaria, which was a major Ancient Thracian city, and a crucial Roman military camp in the later Antiquity period.
The construction of the wooden Roman keep is part of Yambol Municipality and Tundzha Municipality’s efforts to promote cultural tourism by attracting more visitors to Kabile, and its other cultural monuments.
For example, a historical reenactment of the life of the Roman military camp was staged at Kabile as recently as October 2015.
Kabile’s tourism infrastructure has been improved as part of an EU funded project worth BGN 5.5 million (app. EUR 2.8 million) entitled “Go Inside History", as the archaeological researchof one of the most impressive cities of the Odrysian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians, is continuing.
The Ancient Thracian city Kabile, which was established at the end of the 2nd millennium BC, is located on the southeastern slope of a tall hill known as Zaychi Vrah(“Rabbit’s Mount") at a curve of the Tundzha River, with a rock acropolis shrine on the hill’s top.
The newly built wooden Roman keep is located next to the museum in the Kabile Archaeological Preserve.
It features volunteering reenactors in Roman military costumes and gear as well as the opportunity to try dishes cooked according to ancient recipes, reports the Monitor daily.
The ruins of the Ancient Thracian and later Roman city Kabile are well preserved because the site has seen no construction after the Antiquity period, i.e. the city did not survive until the Middle Ages.
Kabile covers a territory of about 280 decares (app. 70 acres); it has been excavated by the Bulgarian archaeologists for the past 45 years, and has not been fully researched yet in spite of these efforts.
Much of the excavation of Kabile over the years has been performed by scholars from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski" (St. Clement of Ohrid) under the leadership of archaeologist Prof. Velizar Velkov.
The Thracian and Romanstructures that have been exposed and exhibited in situ include fortress walls and towers, public buildings, thermae (public baths), barracks, basilicas, with thousands of archaeological artifacts exhibited in the museum of the preserve.
The museum itself was first established in 1986 but its collection and exhibits were fully updated in 2013.
All of AncientThracesouth of the Danube, including the most powerful Ancient Thracian state, the Odrysian Kingdom, which existed in the 5th century BC – 1st century AD, was conquered by the Roman Empire by 46 AD.
Subsequently, not unlike many other conquered peoples in the Roman provinces, the Thracians and their aristocracy became integrated into the institutions of the Roman Empire, including the military.
At the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the Roman Empire turned Kabile, the glorious city of the Odrysians, into one of the largest military camps in the Roman province of Thrace (most of which corresponded to today’s Southern Bulgaria).
The newly built wooden keep is a somewhat smaller model of what the Roman military camp in Kabile may have looked like initially.
The Kabile Archaeological Preserve is located at the foot of a rocky peak known as Zaychi Vrah (Rabbit’s Mount) which used to be an Ancient Thracian shrine and observatory dedicated to goddess Cybele.
In their shrine on Rabbit’s Mount, which dates back to the 2nd millennium BC, the Thracians hewd platforms into the rock in order to secure a view in all directions so that the Ancient Thracian priests could observe from there the paths of the sun and the stars.
Kabile was declared an archaeologicalsite by the Bulgarian authorities in 1927; in 1969, it was granted the status of a monument of culture of national importance, and a national archaeological preserve, and in 1979, it was made part of a nature preserve.
In 2014, the Kabile Archaeological Preserve was visited by a total of 11,600 tourists – which, while a small number, is an increase compared to previous years.
The best studied archaeological structure in Kabile is its Early Christian GreatBasilica which features replicas of its original floor mosaics.
Learn more about the history of the Ancient Thracian city of Kabile near Bulgaria’s Yambol in the Background Infonotes below.
As part of its efforts to promote cultural tourism, in addition to Kabile, Bulgaria’s Yambolhas also restored with EU funding its 16th century Ottoman covered market, the so called bedestan.
The Ancient Thracian city of Kabile is an Archaeological Preserve located 10 km away for the southeastern Bulgarian city of Yambol. The city of Kabile was founded at the end of the 2nd millenium BC, and was one of the most important cities of Ancient Thrace. In fact, it is believed to have been one of the royal residences of the kings from the Odryssian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians. In 341 BC, Kabile was conquered by KingPhilip II of Macedon. The Ancient Thracian city is mentioned by 14 ancient authors, the first of whom describes its conquest by Philip II of Macedon.
After the collapse of Alexander the Great’s empire, in the 3rd century BC, Kabile was ruled once again by the Ancient Thracians. It was conquered by the Roman Empire in 71 BC, and was later incorporated into the Roman province of Thrace. It was an important regional center in the Late Antiquity as well. The city of Kabile was modeled after the Ancient Greek cities at the time. It boasts a stone acropolis with a unique rock relief of the ancient goddess of Cybele, a protector of the city. In the 4th century AD, Kabile was conquered by the Goths, and was later destroyed for good by the Avars.
Kabile is located on the southeastern slope of a tall hill known as Zaychi Vrah(“Rabbit’s Mount") at a curve of the Tundzha River, with a rock acropolis shrine on the hill’s top. It stood at the crossroads of several major ancient roads, and the fact there is no modern-day settlement built on top of it makes the AncientThracian city a fruitful place for archaeologicalresearch and cultural tourism.Kabile was declared an archaeological site by the Bulgarian authorities in 1927; in 1969, it was granted the status of a monument of culture of national importance, and a national archaeological preserve, and in 1979, it was made part of a nature preserve. The Kabile Archaeological Reserve has a territory of 650 decares (160 acres). It features ancient structures such as the agora (a central square), Roman barracks, Roman thermae, a bishop’s basilica, among others. Kabile is excavated every year by archaeological teams from Bulgaria and abroad.
Bulgaria’s Yambol District, which has a territory of 3335 square kilometers, boasts about 4000 archaeology sites, averaging more than one archaeology site per square kilometer. Those include over 3000 burial mounds (tumuli) of which fewer than 2%, or about 60, have been excavated and researched; over 300 prehistoric settlements and settlement mounds; about 50 fortified towns from the Antiquity period (including the Late Iron Age, Ancient Thrace and Ancient Rome, and the Late Antiquity); and about 50 fortified towns from the Middle Ages (Bulgaria and Byzantium). In addition to the 60 excavated burial mounds, only about 20 of the rest of the archaeological sites have been excavated and studied. A total of 87 new archaeological sites, mostly burial mounds but also a dolmen, were discovered in Bulgaria’s Yambol District in 2014 alone.