Bulgarian Archaeologists Discover Aqueduct, Siege Water Storage Tanks of Ancient Odessos Fortress

Archaeologists in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna have discovered an aqueduct, several pithoi (large earthen jars) which served as water storage tanks, and a new fortress wall section of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Odessos (Odessus).

The ancient aqueduct and water storage tanks appear to have been part of a facility that pumped drinking water into Odessos (known in Roman times as Odessus) and could also store some of it, explains Prof. Valentin Pletnyov, Director of the Varna Museum of Archaeology, as cited by local news cited Moreto.net.

The discovery of the Odessos aqueduct and the pithoi used as water tanks has been announced to the public just now but the Varna archaeologists have already excavated them partly, parallel to the rescue excavations conducted in the downtown Varna Largo over the past month.

Not unlike the recent finds in the Varna Largo such as the Late Antiquity fortress wall of Odessos, which have first been discovered by construction workers, the aqueduct and water tanks have also been found during construction but on a privately owned downtown plot.

The local archaeologists plan to continue the excavations of the water facility of ancient Odessos until the end of April, Pletnyov says.

In his words, the pithoi they have found were used as water tanks by the residents of Odessos when their fortress was besieged.

The pipes, i.e the aqueduct which brought water from outside the fortress into the pithoi used as water tanks, are said to be very well preserved.

Varna archaeologists also contains a similarly well preserved section of one of Odessos’s fortress walls consisting of large rusticated building blocks.

Since the new finds are located on private property, a commission from Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture is expected to issue a decision as to how they will be handled; until then, further construction is not allowed.

According to Plevtnyov, the owners of the plot themselves have expressed a desire to preserve parts of the fortress wall of Odessos, and the very blueprint of the building they are constructing provides opportunities for the incorporation of the ancient structures into the ground flood.

Meanwhile, a commission from Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture has inspected the recent rescue excavations of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Odessos in downtown Varna in order to decide how the newly uncovered ancient structures can be exhibited in situ. At least part of the Late Antiquity (4th-5th century AD) fortress wall of ancient Odessos is expected to be exhibited.

Check out the stories about the March 2015 rescue excavations of the Ancient Thracian, Greek, and Roman city of Odessos in Bulgaria’s Varna SO FAR (in reverse chronological order):

Flooding Ruins Newly Found Late Antiquity Fortress Wall of Ancient Odessos in Bulgaria’s Varna – March 30, 2015

Water Utility in Bulgaria’s Varna Cracks 5th Century Earth Jar, Submerges Ancient Odessos ‘Like Atlantis’ – March 28, 2015

‘Giant’ Man’s Skeleton Found under Odessos Fortress Wall in Bulgaria’s Varna Turns Out to Be ‘Only’ 165 cm Tall – March 28, 2015

Archaeologists in Bulgaria’s Varna Unearth 3 More Skeletons, Identify Necropolis under Fortress Wall of Ancient Odessos – March 28, 2015

Giant’ Skeleton Found under Odessos Fortress Wall in Bulgaria’s Varna Not Fully Dug Up, Measured Yet, Archaeologists Inform – March 26, 2015

Archaeologists Dig Up Ancient Skeleton from under Odessos Fortress Wall in Bulgaria’s Varna – March 17, 2015

Bulgarian Archaeologists Uncover Ancient Hand Mill, Odessos Fortress Wall in Varna – March 13, 2015

Workers Stumble Upon 1500-Year-Old Earthen Jar in Odessos Archaeology Preserve in Bulgaria’s Varna – January 22, 2015

Background Infonotes:

The dawn of Varnas history dates back to the dawn of human civilization, the Eneolithic Varna Necropolis being especially well known with the discovery of the world’s oldest find of gold artifacts dating back to the 5th millenium BC.

Ancient Odessos is considered the precursor of the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna. It was founded by Miletian Greek colonists at the end of 7th century BC, the earliest Greek archaeological material dating back to 600-575 BC. However, the Greek colony was established within an earlier Ancient Thracian settlement, and the name Odessos had existed before the arrival of the Miletian Greeks and might have been of Carian origin. Odessos as the Roman city of Odessus became part of the Roman Empire in 15 AD when it was incorporated in the Roman province Moesia. Roman Odessos is especially known today for its well preserved public baths, or thermae, the largest Roman single structure remains in Bulgaria, and the fourth largest Roman public baths known in Europe.

The First Bulgarian Empire (680-1018 AD) conquered Odessos (Varna) from Romes successor, the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, in the late 7th century. It is even believed that the peace treaty in which the Byzantine Empire recognized the ceding of its northern territories along the Danube to Bulgaria was signed in Odessos. The v(val) that the first ruler of Danube Bulgaria, Khan (or kanas) Asparuh built at the time as a defense against future Byzantine incursions is still standing. Numerous Ancient Bulgar settlements around Varna have been excavated, and the First Bulgarian Empire had its first two capitals Pliska (681-893 AD) and Veliki (Great) Preslav (893-970 AD) just 70-80 km to the west of Varna. It is suggested that the name of Varna itself is of Bulgar origin. In the Middle Ages, as a coastal city, Varna changed hands between Bulgaria and Byzantium several times. It was reconquered for the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) by Tsar Kaloyan (r. 1197-1207 AD) in 1201 AD.

The Varna Hole is a pit dug up for the construction of a department store in 1984 but abandoned after the collapse of Bulgaria’s communist regime in 1989. It is presently used as a paid parking lot. It is intriguing because it features remains of the Ancient Roman fortress wall of Odessos / Odessus dating back to the 1st century AD as well as preserved walls of the Ancient Greek colony of Odessos dating back to the 5th century BC.

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3 comments

  1. The pictures are from a private album and they have no connection with the Varna Archaeological Society!

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    1. You could have easily followed the links under the pictures, and found that their source is the Facebook page of the Varna Society of Archaeology: https://www.facebook.com/158838120844188/photos/pb.158838120844188.-2207520000.1428499307./868663756528284/?type=1&theater . If this Facebook page is not the original source of the photos, you should probably contact them!

      Also, the same source is listed on Moreto.net: http://www.moreto.net/novini.php?n=285406

      Since you claim that the photos did not originate with them, we have removed them. Please let us know who the owner of the photos is, and how we can contact him/her in order to ask them for a permission to use the photos for this article.

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  2. The pictures are made by Michael Hhristov. They are not official, but for personal use only.
    Varna Archaeological Society is not authorized to distribute them.
    Varna Archaeological Society have no relation to archaeological research.
    The information in this article is not taken by the researchers and contains inaccuracies.
    Investigators are Dr. Christo Kouzov and Dr. Michael Hristov
    For more information contact the investigators.

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