Archaeologists Find 2nd Antiquity Fortress at Prehistoric, Thracian Rock Shrine near Bulgaria’s Angel Voyvoda

A second Antiquity fortress has been found at the ancient rock shrine Hasara near Bulgaria's Mineralni Bani. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

A second Antiquity fortress has been found at the ancient rock shrine Hasara near Bulgaria’s Mineralni Bani. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

A second previously unknown Antiquity fortress has been found by archaeologists a prehistoric and later Ancient Thracian rock shrine in an area known as Hasara near the town of Angel Voyvoda, Mineralni Bani Municipality, Haskovo District, in Southern Bulgaria.

In May-June 2016, the team of archaeologists led by Assoc. Prof. Zdravko Dimitrov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia announced the discovery of an Ancient Roman fortress with an Early Christian church at the ancient rock shrine near Bulgaria’s Angel Voyvoda.

The Ancient Thracians were found to have used the Hasara shrine at about the period of the Trojan War.

In early 2016, Bulgarian archaeologists specializing in prehistoric shrines discovered the “Orlovi Skali“ (“Eagles’ Rocks”) Shrine, also located in Bulgaria’s Mineralni Bani Municipality, which includes not just rock niches and altars but also huge human faces hewn high into the rocks, and dates back to the 4th millennium BC. The shrine at “Eagles’ Rocks” has been likened to the Hasara Shrine near the town of Angel Voyvoda.

Now, during the winter conservation of the Roman structures exposed in the 2016 summer digs, Dimitrov’s archaeological team has identified a second, smaller fortress from the Antiquity period.

The newly found fortress is located on a hill known as “Malak Hasar" (“Little Hasar"), Mineralni Bani (“Mineral Baths”) Municipality has announced.

The discovery has led the archaeologists to hypothesize that both fortresses discovered in 2016 might have been part of a much larger fortification.

Dimitrov believes that they were in fact citadels within a wider fortress, with the first fortress, the one discovered in the summer on the Hasara hill being its main citadel.

During their conservation work on the site of the 2016 excavations, the archaeologists have carried out additional field research that was impossible over the summer because of the vegetation.

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A view of the first, larger Ancient Roman fortress discovered at the Hasara Ancient Thracian rock shrine earlier in 2016. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

A view of the site of the first, larger Ancient Roman fortress discovered at the Hasara Ancient Thracian rock shrine earlier in 2016. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

Dimitrov has noted that a stone disc which was used as an ancient sun clock, and was also discovered during the summer excavations, has now been found broken, most probably by treasure hunters.

He has vowed that the ancient sun clock will be restored, possibly with help from experts from abroad.

The lead archaeologist has made it clear that support by Mineralni Bani Mayor Myumyun Iskender will help the team continue the archaeological research on the Hasara site with its ancient rock shrine and Antiquity fortifications in 2017.

The entire Ancient Thracian (and prehistoric) archaeological complex near Bulgaria’s Angel Voyvoda, Mineralni Bani Municipality, Haskovo District, covers a total area of 50 decares (app. 12.5 acres).

The Roman and Early Byzantine fortress discovered in May-June 2016 dates back to the Late Antiquity, i.e. the 4th-5th century AD, and has a total area of 6-7 decares (app. 1.5 acres).

The Hasara Ancient Thracian rock shrine is just one of the numerous prehistoric / ancient rock shrines all over Bulgaria's mountains. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

The Hasara Ancient Thracian rock shrine is just one of the numerous prehistoric / ancient rock shrines all over Bulgaria’s mountains. Photo: Mineralni Bani Municipality

At the beginning of 2016, Prof. Ana Raduncheva and Assoc. Prof. Stefanka Ivanova, also from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, who found the “Eagle’s Rocks” shrine, said that the prehistoric civilization which established the numerous rock shrines in Bulgaria created an entire system of shrines spanning what was a huge holy territory.

Later, the Ancient Thracians used parts of these shrines, though not the entire holy territory. In later periods, such as the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, the shrines were no longer used as originally intended, and a number of them were turned into fortresses.

This explanation could be relevant to the present discovery of the Antiquity fortresses at the shrine near Bulgaria’s Angel Voyvoda (the Roman Empire conquered all of Ancient Thrace south of the Danube in 46 AD).

The existence of an Early Christian church there also seems logical since it is known that after the adoption of Christianity in the Late Antiquity, numerous Christian temples were built on the spots of ancient and possibly even prehistoric pagan shrines on the territory of today’s Bulgaria.

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