On the heels of last week’s announcement of the opening of a major Roman site to the public, the Sofia News Agency tells us that archaeologists are on the trail (they hope) of Constantine’s palace there too:
A large ancient building located under the St. Nedelya Cathedral in downtown Sofia might turn out to be a palace of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, according to Bulgarian archaeologists.
The building might also turn out to be the ancient thermae, or public baths of the ancient Roman city of Serdica, today’s Sofia, according to architect Konstantin Peev, head of the EKSA company, which is helping the Sofia Municipality with the excavation and restoration of the archaeological heritage of the Bulgarian capital.
The excavations at the Sofia Largo and the so called Metro Station 2-8 next to the Tzum retail store were made necessary by the construction of the second line of the Sofia Metro.
According to Peev, the bouleuterion of the city of Serdica was located under the northwestern corner of today’s building of the Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan. The bouleuterion was a small amphitheater-like building which housed the council of the citizens in the Antiquity period. The Serdica bouleuterion had a diameter of about 20 meters.
Peev also said that the archeaological excavations in the spring of 2010 have so far revealed a number of Roman insula, i.e. homes closed off among four streets.
He pointed out that the archaeologists have revealed the main streets of the Roman city of Serdica – the main street, decumanus maximus, connecting the Eastern and Western Gates, was wide about 7-8 meters and paved with huge pave stones. The cardo, the secondary street, went in the north-south direction.
Architect Peev stated that the municipality and the Culture Ministry were currently considering various options for conserving and displaying the archeaological heritage of Sofia.
AFP seems to be the only one covering this … I can’t find that we’ve mentioned anything about this before either:
The remains of an ancient Roman town were on Thursday unveiled to the public in the centre of the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
Excavation of the site — which currently includes a Roman palace, baths and burial sites, as well as a more recent 13th century church — began several years ago.
It is hoped that the remains will be preserved as a major heritage site and tourist attraction.
Archaeologists believe the site — which formed the intersection of the two major streets of the ancient Roman town Ulpia Sedica — could prove even more extensive, with at least two more Roman palaces waiting to be uncovered.
Debate has raged for years over the fate of the site as the excavations notably proved a major headache for plans to extend the Sofia underground, with a major station situated right below the historical site.
But the authorities finally opted to preserve the remains where they were.
The total cost of the ambitious project, which will entail a complete reconstruction of central Sofia and is scheduled to be finished in 2011/2012, is an estimated 20 million leva (10 million euros, 12 million dollars).
“It’ll be a perfectly preserved underground museum covering an area of 1.9 hectares,” said Deputy Culture Minister Todor Chobanov at a tour of the site for the media.
“This could put Sofia on par with other major cultural heritage sites such as Rome,” Chobanov said.
With the help of EU money, “this huge space can be used as a centre for exhibitions and performances, which is something that Sofia did not really have until now,” said chief architect Petar Dikov.
An ancient Thracian settlement, Bulgaria’s capital was conquered by the Romans in the first century BC and renamed Ulpia Serdica.
Parts of the Roman fortress in the area close to the current excavations site and an adjacent church dating back to the fourth century have already been excavated and fully reconstructed.
Bulgarian police have captured a number of invaluable archaeological finds in a police operation in Sofia and the eastern town of Stara Zagora.
The operation was carried out by the Unit for Combating the Traffic of Cultural and Historical Items of the main directorate for fighting organized crime (GDBOP), the police directorate in the city of Sliven announced.
In Sofia, the police searched about several addresses where they seized two ancient ceramic vessels, 9 silver Roman coins, an ancient bronze application with a silver image of Medusa, and a metal detector.
Simultaneously, the police searched two locations in Nova Zagora where they found over 500 ancient coins, jewelry, medallions, ceramic figurines and vessels, horns encrusted with horns, a bronze head – all from the period of Ancient Greece, Thrace and Rome.
In addition, the police discovered several artifacts dated back to the Middle Ages, “of high historical and artistic value” which are not described in detail by the police.
One man who is known to be a treasure hunter and dealer of antiques has been detained in Nova Zagora.