Ahtopol (Bulgarie): North Gate of ancient Agathopolis found

Ivan Dikov

Source - http://archaeologyinbulgaria.com/2016/01/15/archaeologists-find-north-gate-of-ancient-agathopolis-in-bulgarias-ahtopol-brand-new-gold-coin-of-byzantine-emperor-justine-i/

Ahtopol 2An aerial photo of the newly discovered northern gate of the Late Antiquity fortress of Agathopolis in Bulgaria’s Ahtopol on the Black Sea with its two towers. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality Facebook Page

Bulgarian archaeologists haveunearthed the northern gate of the Late Antiquity and medieval fortress of Agathopolis, today’s Bulgarian Black Sea town of Ahtopol, a majorByzantine and Bulgarian fortress during the Middle Ages, which was also an Ancient Greek, Thracian, and Roman city in the Antiquity period.

For two months at the end of 2015, archaeologists from Bulgaria’s National Institute and Museum of Archaeology inSofia led by Assist. Prof. Dr. Andrey Aladzhov excavated the ruins of ancient Agathopolis, the press service of Tsarevo Municipality has announced.

The archaeologists’ efforts were supported by volunteers fromBulgaria, Canada, and the Netherlands. The digs were founded by both Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture and Tsarevo Municipality.

Ancient Agathopolis known as Peronticus in the Roman period was settled by Ancient Greek colonists from Athens in 430 BC.

The small Ahtopol Peninsula, however, which is 300 meters long and 150 meters wide, has had traces of civilized life going back as early as the Neolithic. During the Iron Age, it was inhabited by the Ancient Thracian tribe Thyni. It was colonized by theRomans in the 2nd century AD.

The fortress of Agathopolis was built by the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in the 6th century AD.

In addition to discovering the façade of the northern gate of the Late Antiquity fortress of Agathopolis, the archaeologists have also unearthed the interior of the gate’s two fortress towers, aLate Roman building, a necropolis from the Late Middle Agesand buildings that were burned down in the early 20th century.

However, the most interesting newly discovered archaeological structure in Bulgaria’s Ahtopol is said to be the Late Roman stone building which was constructed before the Early Byzantine fortress.

This Late Roman settlement which was burned down shows what the fate of the Roman [city of] Ahtopol was at the time of the Great Exodus when Huns, Goths, Vandals, and other peoples started to devastate the Eastern Roman Empire after the middle of the 4thcentury," the archaeologists explain.

It was no accident that after these events Ahtopol was fortified with a mighty fortress wall," they add.

During the excavations of the western fortress tower of the northern gate of Agathopolis, the archaeologists have found that it was rebuilt in the Late Middle Ages.

The nature of the reconstruction shows that it was hastily done, and the researchers believe it occurred during the devastating raids on Ahtopol by the navy of the Italian city-state Genoa in 1352.

This conclusion is also said to be confirmed by the discovery of numerous cannon balls like the ones used by the Genoese fleet.

According to the statement of Tsarevo Municipality, the most important result from the 2015 excavations of the Late Antiquity and medieval fortress in Ahtopol is the stratigraphic analysis that dates precisely its construction periods.

In addition to the Genoese cannon balls, the ancient and medieval artifacts found by the archaeologists include clay lamps, glass vessels, perfume vessels, luxury dishes, and lots of coins.


This newly found gold coin of Byzantine Emperor Justine I (r. 518-527 AD) was minted to pay for the construction of the Early Byzantine Fortress in Agathopolis but was never in use, according to the archaeologists. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality Facebook Page