The Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency and the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology have signed an agreement for the 2015 rescue excavations of 12 archaeological sites along the route of the Struma Highway in Southwest Bulgaria.
The BGN 4 million (EUR 2.1 million) contract authorizes the experts from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences to excavate the archaeological sites located near the towns of Dupnitsa, Dzherman, Mursalevo, Kocherinovo, and Blatino.
The archaeological excavations will be conducted parallel to the construction works for the Struma Highway, a solution permitted by the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture based on a position of the National Institute of Archaeology.
In 2014, it provided a total of BGN 5.35 million (app. EUR 2.73 million) for rescue archaeological excavations that yielded some of Bulgaria’s most important recent discoveries such as the discovery of the Early Neolithic city near the southwestern town of Mursalevo.
The Early Neolithic settlement near Mursalevo, Blagoevgrad District, in Southwest Bulgaria was discovered in May 2015 (even though the spot has been known as an archaeological site since the 1930s) by a team of Bulgarian archaeologists led by Prof. Vasil Nikolov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. It is dated to about 5,800 BC. The Bulgarian archaeologists found there at least 20 prehistoric buildings with perfect alignment whose walls are 20 cm wide and made of plant stalks and clay. They believe that the buildings were burned down deliberately in arson after firewood was stocked inside them. On the same spot near Mursalevo, the archaeologists have found a Late Neolithic grave with a skeleton in fetal position, artifacts such as tools, figurines, and ceramic vessels, as well as dozens of Ancient Thracian sanctuary pits for rituals and sacrifices from the 5th-1st century BC; it is thought that the Thracians deemed the spot of the former prehistoric settlement a sacred place.