Bulgaria: Grand Armory Of Roman Legion’s Mystery Unveiled


The first traces of the monumental stone structure at the ancient site of a former Roman legionary camp in Novae, Bulgaria, was discovered by AMU archeologists a few years ago. Since then, Dr. Elena Klenina and Dr. Andrzej B. Biernacki have worked on the site of the former legionary camp belonging to the Roman soldiers of the First Italian Legion. Last year, they determined that it was an arsenal – armory. This year’s excavations made it possible to learn about the subsequent history of the area.

The structure built by the Roman soldiers was huge, it occupied about 1800 square meters. It was erected in the first half of the second century. Its base consisted of six monumental rectangular pillars arranged in two rows. They were made of precisely matched, hexagonal blocks of limestone. In the opinion of the researchers, it is the most monumental building, discovered in all known legion camps along the Danube River.

“At the end of the 4th century construction was rebuilt and then it also changed its function: instead of military installations, it started to store grain and other food necessary to keep the legion stationed here,” said Dr Klenina, head of the International Interdisciplinary Archeological Expedition “Novae” of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.

Inside the uncovered structure, archaeologists found numerous artefacts, including over one hundred bronze coins. They were minted in the first quarter of the fourth century AD and a dozen or so coins date from the times of Emperor Licinius I (308-324 AD).

Special attention of archaeologists, however, was pointed by the limestone head sculpture depicting a syncretic deity – Dionysus-Sabazios. According to Dr. Biernacki, an AMU archaeologist who has been involved in work at Novae for many years, the artefact may indicate the arrival of settlers from very distant regions. From the artistic side, the sculpture exhibits distinctly middle-eastern influences with elements of the Greek art of the archaic period of the 1st or 2nd century AD.

This AMU research is carried out in cooperation with the Institute of Archeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

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