History Museum in Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni Showcases Latest Finds from Ancient Roman Ceramics Factory, Villa Estate
The Museum of History in the northern Bulgarian town of Pavlikeni has opened an exhibition showing the artifacts discovered during the latest excavations the well-known Ancient Roman ceramics factory and villa estate, and the rescue excavations of what a previously unknown part of factory (there is also a hypothesis that this might have been an unknown Ancient Roman town).
The Ancient Roman ceramics production center near Pavlikeni has an area of 139 decares (app. 34.3 acres).
It was part of the villa estate of a Roman military veteran, and is dated to the end of the 1st century AD – the beginning of the 2nd century AD. It was destroyed in 170 AD by the Costoboci, then rebuilt, and ultimately abandoned for good after 235 AD, possibly because of the barbarian invasion by the Goths and Carpi in 238-239 AD.
The factory and the villa estate are to be excavated further, restored and developed as a cultural tourism site with funding from the European Economic Area Grants and Norway Grants.
During rehabilitation of the water supply and sewerage network of the town of Pavlikeni in June 2015, construction workers revealed unknown Ancient Roman structures, which were either part of the ceramics factory and the villa estate, or the ruins of an unknown Roman town.
Archaeologist Bogdan Sultov, who excavated the Ancient Roman ceramic factory nearby in the 1970s, conducted excavations in Pavlikeni in 1959 discovering a Late Antiquity necropolis, and stipulating that it was the location of an unknown Roman town.
However, the digs have indicated that the newly discovered structures were part of the Roman villa estate and its ceramics production center, rather than having been part of an unknown town.
The rescue excavations that were carried out in the summer of 2015 led to the discovery of a total of 11 pottery kilns, a well, and a building from the 2nd-3rd century AD.
“All these structures were part of a production center for ceramic items,” Kalin Chakarov, an archaeologist at the Pavlikeni Museum of History, has stated at the opening of the exhibit, as cited by the local daily Borba.
In addition to the rescue excavations of the Roman structures in the town of Pavlikeni, the local archaeologists also conducted regular excavations of the ceramics factory, with a ceramic decoration in the form of a ram head being one of the most interesting finds.
The digs were led by Chakarov and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Oleg Alexandrov, head of the Archaeology Department of the St. Cyril and St. Methodius University, who excavated buildings from the Roman villa that had been burned down.
The structures were discovered with geophysical scanning of the territory of the ancient factory.
The exhibit of the Pavlikeni Museum of History also features the first aerial photos of the Roman ceramics factory and villa estate to be taken in more than 30 years.
In addition to the latest Roman finds from Pavlikeni, the exhibition also shows artifacts found during an exploration of a 50 km section of the future route of the Hemus Highway (connecting Sofia and Varna through Northern Bulgaria).
The exploration was carried out by archaeologists Krastyu Chukalev and Nadezhda Kecheva from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and their colleagues from the Veliko Tarnovo Regional Museum of History, and the Pavlikeni Museum of History.
The researchers have identified over 30 archaeological sites from the Antiquity and Middle Ages which will have to be excavated before the construction of the Hemus Highway.
The Ancient Roman ceramics factory and Roman military veteran’s villa near the town of Pavlikeni in Central Northern Bulgaria was found in 1971 by Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan Sultov who excavated it for about a decade.
It is the best researched Ancient Roman ceramics factory in Southeast Europe. It also especially notable because today it has been turned into an open-air museum ceramics production during the Roman Era, featuring a large number of preserved ancient kilns as well as a restoration of the ancient manufacturing process housed in modern-day buildings made of ancient materials.
The Ancient Roman ceramics production center near Pavlikeni is located on a plot of 139 decares (app. 34.3 acres). It was part of the villa estate of a Roman military veteran, and is dated to the end of the 1st century AD.
The ceramic production started at the beginning of the 2nd century AD. Archaeological excavations have revealed a total of 52 kilns for baking household and construction ceramics which was traded and sold in the entire region.
The Ancient Roman villa estate with its ceramic factory was destroyed in 170 AD by the Costoboci, then rebuilt, and ultimately abandoned for good after 235 AD, possibly because of the barbarian invasion by the Goths and Carpi in 238-239 AD.
Archaeologist Bogdan Sultov’s excavations of the Roman ceramic center near Pavlikeni were terminated in the 1979 (Sultov passed away in 1982), and were resumed only in the summer of 2014 with funding from Pavlikeni Municipality. In 2015, the Municipality and the Pavlikeni Museum of History won a EUR 736,000 grant for the partial restoration and rehabilitation of the site. In addition to Ancient Roman buildings and kilns, the excavations there have revealed numerous ceramic vessels, tools, jewelry, and even Ancient Roman child toys.