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ARCHAELOGICAL MUSEUM "VELIKI PRESLAV"
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Researches

Veliki Preslav, the ancient capital of Bulgaria, has been an interesting subject for research work for ages. Its past and its remains have always excited researchers and scientists. The glory of the capital was well known, even in the heyday of the Ottoman Empire. Its grandeur has attracted many historians, travellers and geographers, and they all have attempted to explore and describe the ruins preserved in Veliki Preslav. What we know today is in thanks to the writings, maps and sketches of people like Jakov Bongarius, Luidji Marsili, Petar-Bogdan Backshev, Hadji Kalfa, Felix Kanitz and many others. The real boom in Preslavian ruins research, however, started no sooner than the 19th c. when many visionaries and patriots decided to devote their lives to researching and tracing the proof regarding glorious past of the town. After the liberation from the Turkish Yoke in 1878, and an independent state system was established, it became easeir under the new conditions to start a more scientifically justified research of ancient Preslav. In the 19th c. (in the 80s-to be more precise), K.Irechek - a historian, toured the whole region and described everything he found. Later on, V.Zlatarski-another prominent figure, made the first probes where the Palaces were considered to have been. In 1905, the academician F.Uspenski-director of the Rissian Archeological Institute in Konstantinopolus, was invited to research the ruins in the ancient capital. He was discouraged by the outcome of his research and the poor findings and lack of discoveries. The scientist wrote a report to royal prince Ferdinand explaining that unfortunately, Preslav had been ravaged to a great extent and that "...the ruins are of no particular scientific interest". Different, however, proved to be the opinion of a Preslavian teacher and researcher - Jordan Gospodinov. He, along with K.Shkorpil, established in the fall of 1906, the Prealavian Archeological Association named "Ticha". Thanks to that local organization, the excavations in Patleina (to the south from the town) became possible in 1909. The very first findings alone, were striking. An imposing 9th or 10th century monastery compound was found with unfamiliar but magnificent examples of fine ceramics. Today these pieces are known among scientists as the Preslavian Painted Ceramics. Included in these monumental findings were pieces of an icon of St.Theodor, which were later restored. From that moment on, comments and discussions started, and all Preslavian discoveries became famous worldwide.

 

In 1927, as a commemoration of one thousand years since the death of tsar Simeon, Jordan Gospodinov and K.Shkorpil took to excavating a huge hill situated about three hundred metres southwards off the Palace. With military back-up and help, the hard work of digging into this hill advanced quickly. Soon, the ruins of a building with a very interesting and original architectural plan with marble flooring were uncovered. The entire mound was filled with a great number of marble pieces and slabs of the already famous painted ceramic.

 

The amazing success of this find was the reason why Kr. Mijatev, curator of Medieval Department at the National Archaeological Museum in Sofia, was sent the very next year (1928), to be the guide and person in charge of further research. The circular form of the nave led researchers to recognize the entire place as the "Golden Church", which dated back to 907 and had been mentioned by the monk Tudor Doksov. The newly found church was given the name,"The Round/Golden Church" and has been known that way ever since.

 

Consequently, N. Mavrodinov, V. Mavrodinova, I. Zhandova, St. Stanchev, T. Totev, D. Ovcharov and many other of the most prominent Bulgarian experts, took part in the yearly planned researches that were launched in Preslav after WWII. As a result, enormous building sites were found in the Palace center, bathrooms, estates, and monasteries in the Inner Town and the periphery. It was possible to trace down two fortress walls enclosing a territory of 3,5 square kilometres. The Kings Palace, the Patriarchs Palace, the civilian housing site in Selishte, the Palace Monastery, the monasteries in Avradaka and Tuzlaluka are the most remarkable landmarks in this area. Also discovered were workshops for the production of painted ceramic icons, ornamental slabstones and table ceramics. A great number of lead seals dating back to the Byzantine administrative system of the town were found in a solid building in the Inner Town. Now, the seals comprise one of the most precious sfragistic collections in the world. In 1978, in the area surrounding the ancient capital, farmers found golden jewelry inlaid with enamel, precious stones and pearls. This is the Preslavian Golden Treasure which has been exhibited in many famous museums all over the world. Today, most of the transportable artifacts are kept and exhibited in the Preslavian Archeological Museum, along with the rest of the significant architectural monuments that are made convenient for visitors and those who wish to experience the feel for the grandeur of ancient Preslav.