Fathers of Bulgarian Archaeology, the Skorpil Brothers, to Be Honored in Exhibit Dedicated to ‘Bulgarian Czechs’

One of the 27 posters presenting notable "Bulgarian Czechs" who helped build the Third Bulgarian Tsardom after Bulgaria's National Liberation. This one is for Antonin Kolar, the first chief architect of Sofia. Photo: BTA

One of the 27 posters presenting notable “Bulgarian Czechs” who helped build the Third Bulgarian Tsardom after Bulgaria’s National Liberation. This one is for Antonin Kolar, the first chief architect of Sofia. Photo: BTA

Karel Skorpil and Hermann Skorpil, also known as the Skorpil Brothers, who founded modern-day Bulgarian archaeology at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, will be honored in a special exhibition dedicated to the Czechs who settled in Bulgaria and helped rebuild it after its National Liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878.

The exhibition entitled “The Bulgarian Czechs" is to be presented in the capital of the Czech Republic Prague during the 12th Global Meeting of the Bulgarian Media which is scheduled for May 17-21, 2016, BTA has announced.

The exhibit is a joint project of Bulgaria’s State Archive Agency and the state-owned news agency BTA, and is designed as “a gesture of gratitude for the Czech state and people who offered exceptional assistance in the restoration and reestablishment of Bulgaria after its Liberation".

The Third Bulgarian Tsardom (1878-1944/46) was born in 1878, after the Russian-Turkish War of 1877-1878 ended (at least for some of Bulgaria’s historic territories) the five centuries of Ottoman Yoke (1396-1878/1912) (i.e. the period when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire).

The new Bulgarian state, however, was short of qualified labor in all fields, and hundreds of Czech experts (whose country at the time was part of Austria-Hungary) came to its aid at the end of the 19th century. Some were led by emotional motives while others sought new business opportunities.

“There is not a single field in public life in Bulgaria where Czechs were not involved. They were entrepreneurs, craftsmen, publishers, brewers, builders. Notable Czech intellectuals invited by the Bulgarian government also connected their fate with Bulgaria – highly qualified teachers, engineers, architects, historians, artists, and musicians," state the organizers of “The Bulgarian Czechs" exhibit.

“Many of them remained in Bulgaria until the end of their lives laying the foundations of the large cultural and economic institutions, and leaving behind a rich heritage of scientific research and discoveries, paintings and music, which today are part of Bulgaria’s highest samples of its spiritual heritage," they add.

The exhibit to be unveiled in Prague contains a total of 27 posters each of which presents a portrait of some of the most important “Bulgarian Czechs" in photos and papers.

Karel Skorpil (1859-1944) and Hermann Skorpil (1858-1923), the Czech-Bulgarian founders of modern-day Bulgarian archaeology, are also featured among them. Born in Vysoké Mýto, then in Austria-Hungary, they moved to Bulgaria in 1880-1882 (first in the autonomous region of Eastern Rumelia in today’s Southern Bulgaria which was united with the Principality of Bulgaria in the Unification of 1885).

Karel and Hermann Skorpil explored archaeological monuments all over Bulgaria conducting the first ever archaeological research for many of them.

They founded the Varna Archaeological Society and participated in the founding of the Varna Museum of Archaeology, with Karel Skorpil serving as its Director from 1915 until his death in 1944. Hermann Skorpil, who was a curator at the Museum, and passed away in 1923, was buried near the Early Christian basilica in the area known as Dzhanavara in Varna’s suburbs. Karel Skorpil
was buried in the Ancient Bulgar capital Pliska (capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in 680-893 AD).

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The Monument of Karel and Hermann Skorpil in front of the Varna Museum of Archaeology that they helped found. Photo: Varna Museum of Archaeology

The Monument of Karel and Hermann Skorpil in front of the Varna Museum of Archaeology that they helped found. Photo: Varna Museum of Archaeology

The grave of Hermann Skorpil near the Early Christian basilica in the area known as Dzhanavara in Bulgaria's Varna (also known as "Skorpil's Basilica"). Photo: Litev, Wikipedia

The grave of Hermann Skorpil near the Early Christian basilica in the area known as Dzhanavara in Bulgaria’s Varna (also known as “Skorpil’s Basilica”). Photo: Litev, Wikipedia

The grave of Karel Skorpil in Pliska, capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in the 7th-9th century. Photo: Goor, Wikipedia

The grave of Karel Skorpil in Pliska, capital of the First Bulgarian Empire in the 7th-9th century. Photo: Goor, Wikipedia

Other prominent “Bulgarian Czechs" whose portraits are to be presented in the Prague exhibit include historian Konstantin Jirecek (1854-1918), Bulgaria’s first Education Minister after the Liberation (then called “Enlightenment Minister"); painter Ivan Mrkvicka (1856-1938) who founded the future National Academy of Arts in Sofia; composer Ivan Cibulka (1880-1943), brewer Franz Milde (1852-1924), brothers Jiri Prosek (1847-1905) and Bogdan Prosek (1858-1905), engineers who designed the Lions’ Bridge and the Eagles’ Bridge in Sofia, the Sofia Train Station, and Port Varna, and drafted Sofia’s first urban planning document; Antonin Kolar (1841-1900), the first chief architect of Sofia; mathematician Anton Sourek (1857-1926) and his wife, teacher Frantiska Senlerova-Sourekova; zoologist Ivan Buresh (1885-1980); painter Jaroslav Vesin (1860-1915); botanist Vaclav Stribrny (1853-1933); engraver Josef Peter (1881-1925); actor and director Josef Smaha (1848-1915); among others.

The original archive documents and photos used for “The Bulgarian Czechs" exhibition come from the Central Office of the Bulgarian State Archive in Sofia, and its regional officers in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Sliven, Shumen, and Blagoevgrad, and the scientific archives of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the National Art Gallery, and private collections.

“The Bulgarian Czechs" exhibition has been put together by Bulgarian artist and photographer Ivo Hadzhimishev.

“The level of popularity of most of “the Bulgarian Czechs" does not do justice to the importance of their contribution – their names are known only to a small number of people with knowledge in specific fields and topics, whereas their role in Bulgaria’s development is huge," conclude the organizers.

One of the 27 posters presenting notable "Bulgarian Czechs" who helped build the Third Bulgarian Tsardom after Bulgaria's National Liberation. This one is for painter Ivan (Jan) Mrkvicka featuring one of his most famous paintings, "Rachenitsa", a Bulgarian folk dance. Photo: BTA

One of the 27 posters presenting notable “Bulgarian Czechs” who helped build the Third Bulgarian Tsardom after Bulgaria’s National Liberation. This one is for painter Ivan (Jan) Mrkvicka featuring one of his most famous paintings, “Rachenitsa”, a Bulgarian folk dance. Photo: BTA

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