Restoration of Ancient Roman Ceramics Factory in Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni Delayed by Annulled Tender

Ancient Roman child toys discovered at the cite of the veteran’s villa and ceramic factor near Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni, part of the collection of the Pavlikeni Museum of History. Photo: TV grab from News7

Ancient Roman child toys discovered at the cite of the veteran’s villa and ceramic factor near Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni, part of the collection of the Pavlikeni Museum of History. Photo: TV grab from News7

The restoration and further excavation of the only known Ancient Roman ceramics factory in Southeast Europe, which is located near the northern Bulgarian town of Pavlikeni, will be delayed after Bulgaria’s competition watchdog has annulled a tender for the project.

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 Roman ceramics factory in Bulgaria’s Pavlikeni is supposed to be restored and developed further as a landmark for cultural tourism.

In 2015, Pavlikeni Municipality won a grant for the conservation and restoration of the ancient pottery making center from the Norway Grants, a development aid mechanism of the government of Norway, amounting to EUR 740,000.

The Norwegian-funded project is entitled “Ancient Ceramics Center – Pavlikeni, Promotion and Modernization", and was supposed to be completed in 2016.

However, Bulgaria’s Competition Protection Commission has now annulled the tender for the selection of a construction firm to carry out the restoration.

According to the watchdog, the Vodstroy VT firm has no experience in the restoration of archaeological sites whereas the tender rules clearly stated that the winner was supposed to have completed at least one such project in the past 5 years. As a result of this decision of the Commission, the tender will have to be held anew.

In addition to the restoration of the Ancient Roman archaeological site in Pavlikeni, the project also provides for building a museum with a pottery workshop and kilns, and space for educational activities and presentations.

The funding from the Norway grant will also be used for repair and rehabilitation works of road and water supply infrastructure.

The Ancient Roman pottery making center in Pavlikeni was first found in 1971 by Bulgarian archaeologist Bogdan Sultov. During the following decade, the archaeologists kept discovering various ceramic vessels, tools, jewelry, and even Ancient Roman child toys.

The excavations of the Roman ceramic center near Pavlikeni were terminated in the 1982, and were resumed only in the summer of 2014 with BGN 8,500 (app. EUR 4,250) from Pavlikeni Municipality.

The Pavlikeni Museum of History recently opened an exhibition showcasing its latest finds from the 2015 archaeological excavations of the Ancient Roman factory and villa estate.

Background Infonotes:

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.

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