Kaleto Fortress – Banya, Bulgaria

The Late Antiquity, Late Roman and Early Byzantine fortress known as Kaleto is located near the central Bulgarian town of Banya, Panagyurishte Municipality, Plovdiv District. The archaeological excavations of the Kaleto Fortress near Banya (“kale” is a Turkish word meaning “fortress” left over from the Ottoman period commonly used for the numerous ruins of ancient and medieval fortresses all over Bulgaria, whose proper names are sometimes unknown) were held for the first time in April-May 2015. Historians and archaeologists think that the fortress Kaleto near Banya was originally an Ancient Thracian settlement. The first stone masonry on the site and the construction of the fortress wall date to the 4th century AD, and there are indications that it was destroyed during the barbarian invasion of the Huns in the 5th century AD. After that, the fortress near Banya was rebuilt, but in the 12th century AD it fell prey to an invasion once again – this time it was destroyed by the crusader knights from the Third Crusade (1189-1192 AD). The Kaleto fortress near Banya was important in ancient and medieval times because of its strategic location between the Valley of Zlatitsa and Pirdop, and the Upper Thracian Plain (in today’s Southern Bulgaria). Different archaeological artifacts such as tools, arrows, and spears have been found by locals on the site of the Kaleto Fortress. Its first excavations were led by Assoc. Prof. Valeri Grigorov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, together with Lyubka Todorova, archaeologist from the Pazardzhik Regional Museum of History, Georgi Abdulov, former Director of the Panagyurishte Museum of History, and Vasil Katsarev, curator at the Panagyurishte Museum of History.

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