Sexaginta Prista (Bulgarie): Unknown fortress wall found

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Sexaginta prista rescue digs 2The newly discovered fortress wall of the Ancient Roman city of Sexaginta Prista in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Ruse is dated to the 4th century AD. Photo: TV grab from BNT 2 Ruse

Archaeologists carrying out rescue excavations in Bulgaria’s Danube city of Ruse have discovered a previously unknown but perfectly preserved fortress wall of the Ancient Roman city of Sexaginta Prista.

The newly found fortress wall of the Roman city of Sexaginta Prista, whose name means “port of the sixty ships”, has been discovered during rescue excavations for the construction of an apartment building.

The fortress wall is dated to the 4th century AD, and has been unearthed together with a wide range ofAncient Roman coins and artifacts.

The archaeologists from the Ruse Regional Museum of History are especially excited about thediscovery for a number of reasons.

First of all, it means that the Roman city of Sexaginta Prista was larger by a few acres than previously thought. Second, the newly found fortress wall is perfectly preserved, and reaches a height of between 6 and 8 meters. Thus, the discovery changes the archaeologists’ hypotheses about Sexaginta Prista, whose ruins have been not fully researched.

The fortress wall is rather impressive. It has been preserved with at height which we never expected. That is why we were surprised,” explains lead archaeologist Varbin Varbanov, as cited by local state-owned TV channel BNT2.

During their rescue excavations on the construction site, the Ruse archaeologists have also found over 200 Late Roman and Early Byzantine coins from the 4th-6th century AD, as well as over 300 other artifacts. The rescue excavations are funded by the private investor.

Unfortunately, the archaeologists in Ruse have been prevented from exploring all of the impressive Ancient Roman Danube port Sexaginta Prista by the bureaucracy as the ownership rights of part of the properties that are supposed to be excavated have disputed by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Defense for the past 8 years.

Sexaginta prista rescue digs 5Ancient ceramic vessels found in the rescue excavations in Ruse. Photo: TV grab from BNT 2 Ruse

The Ancient Thracian and Roman settlement and fortress of Sexaginta Prista (meaning “Port of the Sixty Ships”) in today’s Bulgarian Danube city of Ruse was built on top of an earlier Ancient Thracian settlement.Archaeological research has proven that the Sexanginta Prista Fortress was originally an Ancient Thracian settlement existing as early as the 3rd century BC. In fact, the hill where the settlement is located was a Thracian shrine for performing cult rituals which remain unknown to this day. There the Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered hundreds of Ancient Thracian ritual pits dating to the 1st century BC-1st century AD, of which about 50 have been studied. The archaeological discoveries from the Thracian ritual pits include pottery vessels, bronze artifacts, coins, bones; a unique richly decorated zoomorphic vessel depicted an eagle’s head as well as several fibulas. Other archaeological findings include an Ancient Thracian jug from the 2nd-1st century AD containing organic matter fromdomestic animals, an ancient ceramic vessel from the Greek island of Rodos dated to the 3rd century BC, household vessels, and transportation vessels, which are taken to mean that the settlement had a well developed trade.