Archaeologists from the Varna Archaeological Museum working near the picturesque Black Sea town of Byala, Bulgaria have rediscovered a late antiquity fortress from the country’s early Byzantine period. A Christian basilica has also been discovered at the site, which is believed to have been a settlement of some importance during the reigns of Anastasius I (491 – 518 AD) and Justinian I (527 – 565 AD). However the settlement has not yet been located. The impressive fortress has in fact been discovered before, by Hermingild and Karel Skorpil – the founders of Bulgarian archaeology – as far back as 1892.
It would again come to light in a short 1970 expedition, yet the building of a Bulgarian Army base in the 20th century put paid to any further excavations. It is thought that the fortress may even be the same one mentioned by the famous Roman historian Strabo, which he called Larisa, to the south of ‘Odesso’ (modern-day Varna). Yet experts are keeping cool on its precise provenance, according to Sofia news agency Novinite. The excavations are set to continue, yet worryingly the army base itself was abandoned to make way for glitzy real estate along what is now one of Europe’s most sought-after coastlines. And what with the continual ransacking of Bulgarian heritage sites by fervent treasure hunters, this latest invaluable find may face plenty of obstacles if it can remain untouched for the forseeable future.
Image by Klearchos Kapoutsis.