Bulgaria’s Black Sea Town Primorsko Showcases Artifacts from Newly Discovered Ancient Thracian Fortress Pharmakida

Archaeological artifacts from the newly discovered Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida have been showcases as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of History in the Bulgarian Black Sea town Primorsko. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History

Archaeological artifacts from the newly discovered Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida have been showcases as part of the permanent collection of the Museum of History in the Bulgarian Black Sea town Primorsko. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History/Primorsko Municipality

The History Museum in the Bulgarian Black Sea town Primorsko has set up a special permanent exhibit of archaeological artifacts from the newly discovered Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida.

The ruins of Pharmakida, which dates back to the 2nd-1st century BC, were discovered in the summer of 2015 in the thick subtropical forests along the Ropotamo River by archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov from the National Museum of History in Sofia.

The archaeological exploration of the newly discovered Thracian fortress has been supported by the Director of the Primorsko Museum of History Daniel Pantov and Primosko Mayor Dimitar Germanov, the Primorsko Museum notes in a statement which also summarizes the archaeologists’ findings to date about Pharmakida.

The Pharmakida Fortress was the fortified residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler, the archaeologists have concluded at the end of the past archaeological season. Its name stems from an ancient cult for deities of healing and medicine.

It had a territory of a 1 decare (app. 0.25 acres), and was located on a hill, among three mound necropolises, and near a settlement; it was fortified with walls from all sides.

Pharmakida was located near a road along the Black Sea coast leading down to the Ancient Greek colony of Byzantium (later the city of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul).

On its southwestern wall, the fortress had a tower made of stone and wood, and covered with a roof of Olynthus-type tiles”. Inside the fortified area, the archaeologists have identified two residential buildings.

The artifacts from Pharmakida, the fortified residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler, indicate trade connections with various parts of the ancient world as well as participation in the Mithridatic Wars between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Pontus. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History

The artifacts from Pharmakida, the fortified residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler, indicate trade connections with various parts of the ancient world as well as participation in the Mithridatic Wars between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Pontus. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History/Primorsko Municipality

The archaeological artifacts from Pharmakida showcased in the new exhibition of the Primorsko Museum include intact ceramic vessels and fragments of Thracian-made and imported pottery.

“This shows that supplies of amphorae and expensive ceramic vessels with relief decorations from different parts of the world arrived by sea and via the mouth of the Ropotamo River," the Primorsko Museum of History says.

It also stresses that the treasure of ancient bronze and silver coins minted in Maroneia, Byzantium (Constantinople) and Odessos (Varna), which was discovered in Pharmakida in September 2015, is extremely valuable.

The latest of the silver coins features an image of Emperor Alexander the Great of Macedon, and was minted in Odessos (Varna) ca. 80-70 BC.

The Primorsko Museum of History stresses that the archaeological artifacts and the cultural layers indicate that the Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida was involved in the wars between Ancient Rome, i.e. the Roman Republic, and the Kingdom of Pontus in Anatolia ruled by King Mithridates IV of Pontus (r. 120 – 63 BC), namely, the so called Mithridatic Wars.

The Museum reminds that in the 1st century BC, the Ancient Thracians living along the southwestern coast of the Black Sea and the Ancient Greek polis Apollonia Pontica (today’s Bulgarian town of Sozopol), became allied with Mithridates of Pontus.

As a result, Apollonia Pontica was ransacked during a punitive military campaign of the Roman Republic led by general Marcus Lucullus (ca. 116 – ca. 56 BC) against King Mithridates VI of Pontus.

The archaeological finds indicate that the Pharmakida Fortress was destroyed by the Romans during the same campaign in the Third Mithridatic War.

The Primorsko Museum of History notes that the newly discovered Ancient Thracian fortress “fits perfectly" with the other archaeological sites in the region of the Strandzha Mountain and Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast for the aims of developing cultural tourism.

The archaeological excavations of the Pharmakida Fortress, which is to be completed in 2016, are expected to help turn it into an attractive new archaeological landmark in combination with other archaeological sites and natural preserves found nearby.

In addition to the further excavations of Pharmakida, Primorsko Municipality plans digs in the Ancient Greek colony of Chersonesus on the Cape of Maslen Nos (Oil Cape), and in an Ancient Thracian burial mound in Silihlyar, where in 2013 archaeologists discovered the graves of a child and a warrior priest (the mound in Silihlyar is located just a kilometer away from the Ancient Thracian shrine Beglik Tash).

Primorsko Municipality says it aims at developing cultural tourism and boosting tourist visits, while also protecting the archaeological sites in the region from treasure hunters, which is why it plans for the restoration, conservation, and exhibition in situ of the archaeological monuments on its territory.

The Museum of History in the Black Sea town of Primorsko was opened in 2014. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History

The Museum of History in the Black Sea town of Primorsko was opened in 2014. Photo: Primorsko Museum of History / Primorsko Municipality

Also check out our other recent stories about the newly discovered Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko:

Bulgarian Archaeologist Discovers Previously Unknown Ancient Thracian Fortress in Thick Forest along Ropotamo River

Archaeologists Discover Coin Treasure in Recently Found Fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko, Link It to Rome’s Third Mithridatic War

Newly Found Fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko Was Fortified Residence of Ancient Thracian Ruler, Archaeologists Conclude