New Archeological Findings at Bulgaria’s Perperikon
A stone bath for newborn babies from the 6th century and a second mausoleum-rotunda are the latest unique finds of Perperikon, announced Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov.
According to him, his team is already in the middle of the excavations planned for this year. More than 60 workers are on site - from early July to late September.
Explorations continue this summer in the southern quarter, where the largest early Christian church in the Rhodopes was discovered a few years ago. This is a huge three-nave basilica with a length of 34 meters. It was probably the center of the great Rhodope archbishopric from the 5th-6th century. Immediately to the west, the majestic episcopal residence of the same era is revealed.
Ovcharov reminds that in the first days, a tomb of a bishop from the 5th-6th century was discovered in this sector, which, unfortunately, was looted in antiquity. Like many other Perperikon facilities, it was completely carved into the rocks and was covered with a massive stone cover. Today, the skeleton of the high priest is missing, but the purpose of the tomb is evident from the characteristic north-south orientation and the specific seat that kept the body of the deceased in a semi-sitting position. These are the hallmarks of hierarchical burials from those of ordinary people.
The tomb, no doubt, is associated with the unique mausoleum-rotunda discovered last year in the same area, the scientist explains. This is a remarkable building with only a few analogies in the late Roman Empire. It is a monumental building partially carved into the rocks, built of massive worked stone blocks. The plan is an ideal circle with a diameter of 7.5 meters. From the east it was entered through a rectangular vestibule, opened to the outside by a solemn double door. The monumental building is of the type of so-called round buildings or rotundas.
According to the tradition that originated during the imperial era, the mausoleums of celebrities and the emperors themselves were built in the shape of rotundas. "By analogy, with various examples, we assume that this was the purpose of the newly opened building in the rock town. In all probability, the sarcophagus of one of the deserving bishops of the spiritual center of the Great Mountain was located there," Ovcharov added.
The second such rotunda with approximately the same dimensions, in the same way, was partially carved in the stone massif, and in height it continued on stable walls. Ovcharov suggests that there was a whole complex of such memorials, developed in the immediate vicinity of the huge basilica.
This year's research reveals a large number of coins, starting with coins of the ancient Greek polis Maroneia (4th century BC), silver denarii from the Roman imperial era, Byzantine follies from the 10th-11th centuries, medieval Scythians from the 13th-14th centuries. . Among the finds are fine works of jewelry - bronze cross-reliquaries, silver and bronze jewelry, among various applications.
An extremely interesting discovery is an almost completely preserved stone font from the 6th century for the baptism of young children. As it is known, it was from Perperikon that the baptism of the pagans in the Rhodopes began at the beginning of the 5th century. By the 6th century, everyone had already been baptized, so only infants were subjects baptizing rituals. That is why stone baths with small pools were made for them, in which they were immersed in the sacred sacrament. Such finds are very rare and in our country they are counted on the fingers of one hand, summarizes Prof. Nikolay Ovcharov.
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