Epigraphic Evidence from Perperikon

Interesting item from Radio Bulgaria, which seems to have lost a thing here and there in translation:

In the summer the ancient shrine of Perperikon in Southeastern Bulgaria is the source of hot archeological news. During this year’s digs the team of Prof. Nickolay Ovcharov has come across the first epigraphic (written) evidence about Perperikon. Evidence was found on two monuments with Latin inscriptions as well as on a lead stamp. Archeologists have also dug out a Roman road in Perperikon’s southern section, Prof. Ovcharov told a press conference.

“In early August local people told us about a fragment they had seen on the road. We checked into the case and found out that that this is the road from Roman times that connected Perperikon with the branch of the main road East-West-Europe-Asia, the famous Via Egnatia. Five kilometers from Perperikon it branches to reach the stone city. This branch was made especially to serve the city. We found a 30 m fragment from the road into the woods. There we also found an ancient smithy. Coins that we unearthed have been dated to the end 4, early 5 c. AD, the heyday of Perperikon. During digs on the road we were happy to find the first fragment from an inscription, and soon we found two other such fragments. Obviously, they come from different eras. The letters used are either Latin or ancient Greek.”

For deciphering the texts Nickolay Ovcharov referred to Prof. Vasilka Gerasimova, researcher from the National Museum of History and professor at New Bulgarian University, Bulgaria’s best expert in Latin epigraphy. She has dated the epigraphic monuments. The oldest one among them originated in 4-5 c. and the most recent one – in 16-17 c.

Dr. Zdravko Dimitrov, specialist in Antiquity archeology, confirmed this evidence and said: “These are the first pieces of epigraphic evidence in Perperikon. The first one is from a gravestone with a name of Syrian origin written on it. The deciphering of the name suggests that the Perperikon population included immigrants from Syria and Asia Minor. They were rich people and focused mostly on trade and crafts. The second inscription has a very low relief and is difficult to read.”

The last inscription found away from the Roman road in Perperikon has puzzled the team of Prof. Ovcharov. “The letters could be interpreted as recent, written by shepherds in 1950s, for instance”, Prof. Ovcharov explains.

“Later however the inscription was dated to 16-17 c. and for sure one of the names on it is the Christian name Cosmas. It is not clear whether it is Bulgarian or Greek, because in both cases the spelling would be the same”, Prof. Ovcharov added. The most recent find in Perperikon is a lead stamp from 11 c. On one side it depicts Virgin Mary with the Holy Infant and on the other side the name Museli Bakuriani is written.

The Radio Bulgaria piece includes several photos, including one which presumably are the inscriptions:

Radio Bulgaria Photo

Radio Bulgaria Photo

I’ve fiddled with the image in Photoshop but can’t really get a handle on the inscriptions; I think the top one is the one which mentions the ‘Christian’ name Kosmas, but that’s not at all certain. Whatever the case, are there really no Greek or Latin inscriptions from Peperikon (e.g. in IGBulg?)??


2 thoughts on “Epigraphic Evidence from Perperikon

  1. They are 3 types of inscriptions, the latest one is not from the Greek or Roman era, but from the Ottoman one. Journalists misunderstood the first interview of Ovcharov and created a speculation leading to a scandal, which was finally solved with official statement of the archaeologists.

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