Bulgaria’s Cabinet Allocates Major Funding for 2016 Archaeological Excavations of Ancient and Medieval Rock City Perperikon

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

Bulgaria’s Cabinet has allocated substantial funding for the 2016 archaeological excavations of the ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon in the Rhodope Mountains.

The funding has been approved at the Cabinet’s weekly meeting, the government press service has announced.

It comes independently from any funding that might be allocated by the Ministry of Culture which usually apportions and provides the government funding for archaeological excavations in Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian government has thus decided to grant BGN 40,000 (app. EUR 20,000) to Kardzhali Municipality where the ancient and medieval rock site of Perperikon is located.

While the sum may not appear to be substantial, it is important to note that many of Bulgaria’s archaeological projects in 2015 received government funding amounting to only BGN 10,000-15,000, and some even had to do with less than that.

The total sum allocated for archaeological excavations by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture in 2015 amounted to about BGN 500,000 which has been completely insufficient.

In contrast, last year the Bulgarian Cabinet provided special funding for the restoration of the St. John the Forerunner Monastery near Kardzhali amounting to BGN 800,000, BGN 220,000 for the excavations of Perperikon, and another BGN 500,000 for the restoration and further study of the 9th century AD Great Basilica in Pliska (which, too, has been insufficient).

The most recent archaeological discoveries from the ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon (Perperik) have been a massive gold-plated silver ring with an obsidian gemstone dating from the Late Middle Ages, and a total of three temples from the Roman Era in Perperikon: a temple of Apollo; a temple of the Thracian Horseman, also known as Heros, the supreme deity in the mythology of the Ancient Thracians; as well as a Mithraeum, a temple of Roman mystery cult god Mithra stemming from the Persian and Zoroastrian mythology.

Thus, the 2015 summer digs have been the largest archaeological excavations at the rock city of Perperikon in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria since its exploration started 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, Kardzhali Municipality is continuing the execution of a Norway-funded project for the restoration of some of the ancient and medieval structures in the acropolis of the rock city.

Lead archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia has made it clear that in the upcoming years, he plans to excavate the southern suburb of Perperikon which is also said to be very rich in terms of archaeological structures.

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

Also check out our stories about the other recent archaeological finds in the ancient and medieval rock city of Perperikon:

Archaeologists Find Exquisite Medieval Ring with Obsidian Gemstone in Bulgaria’s Rock City Perperikon, Complete Excavations of Its Acropolis

Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Three Roman Pagan Temples, Nymphaeum at Ancient and Medieval Rock City Perperikon

Archaeologist Finds Clay Lamp with Eros, Other Roman Age Artifacts in Ancient and Medieval Rock City Perperikon

Archaeologist Finds 14th Century Monogram, Coins of Bulgarian Tsars at Ancient and Medieval Rock City Perperikon

Archaeologist Discovers Gold Coin of Byzantine Emperor Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer in Bulgaria’s Perperikon

Bulgarian Archaeologists Find Roman Temple, Apollo Statuette in Excavations of Ancient Rock City Perperikon

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

A view of the ruins of the prehistoric, ancient, and medieval rock city and fortress of Perperikon (Perperik) in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. Photo: Haskovo Tourist Information Center

Background Infonotes:

Perperikon (also called Perperek or Perperik) is an ancient rock city located in the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria, 15 km away from the city of Kardzhali.

It is a large-scale archaeological complex including historical monuments from different ages. Those include a megalithic sanctuary dating back to the Neolithic Age, the 6th millennium BC, a Bronze Age settlement, and a holy rock city established by the Ancient Thracians later taken over by the Romans, Goths, and Byzantines, respectively.

In the Middle Ages, especially during the time of the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD), it was the site of a strong fortress and a royal palace that Bulgaria and Byzantium fought over numerous times.

Perperikon has been excavated since 2000 by Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov who has found evidence that the mythical ancient Temple of Dionysius was located there. The rock city and fortress at Perperikon, not unlike the vast majority of the medieval Bulgarian fortresses, were destroyed by the invading Ottoman Turks in the 14th century.