The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

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The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

Post by » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:43 am

I was reminded of my trip to Bulgaria when I read this article: ... n-bourgas/

I wonder if anyone else has been there. I visited Burgas (before the excavations), Plovdiv, Nesebar, Varna and a couple more cities/sites. I was surprised by how badly the sites were maintained. The biggest ones were the bath complex in Varna and the roman theatre in Plovdid.

The Varna baths (Rimski Termi, run by the local Archaeological Museum) were basically uncovered and then left to the elements, there were some metal barricades propped up against an ancient wall, and somehow they managed to put some non-related building material in between some ancient buildings. Upon entering, there were 2 more groups. One of them was dealing drugs. Another one was a jewish family on a walk. No other tourists. When I asked for a pamphlet they didn't have any English ones (which is not that weird, it happens), and I had to settle for a German or Bulgarian one. I cannot give any comments on the Bulgarian one, but the German one was from the 1980s, faded brown and really, really dated. I'm not talking about a small site, this is a very big bath complex. And considering how it is treated, it is still well preserved. I really hope the government steps in here.

The 'somewhat' famous Roman Theatre of Plovdiv is another great example of bad conservation. I'm not even talking about the fact that they use it as a modern day theatre, including parties with heavy bass music. It regularly needs to be cleaned because for some reason the youth in Plovdiv thinks it is a great place for grafiti. This is probably because the site is so badly protected. The only thing stopping people from entering at any time during the day is an (unlocked!) rusty metal gate. I know because I got in during a rehearsal, and they were obviously not used to tourists. During this rehearsal I actually saw someone taking a leak against a roman statue, so even the performers have no sense of respect. I really wonder what's wrong with these people.

I know there's some badly maintained sites in France, Greece and Italy, but these ones take the cake. I hope with their 'recent' membership of the European Union (2007), they will try to fix these issues. They also have some nice musea, including one that houses one of the oldest treasure hoards in the world. I hope they don't go all Egyptian on it.

Does anyone have an idea of upcoming restoration projects, new digs or plans to protect/update existing sites because (obviously) my last trip kind of worried me. Some UNESCO and international help and awareness is seriously needed here. ... cal_Museum

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Re: The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

Post by kbs2244 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:54 am

"The digs are part of a conservation and restoration project by the Bourgas municipality, meant to turn the Aqua Calidae – Thermopolis site, which housed public baths during the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras, into a tourist attraction, the city hall said."

That sounds like a back handed admission that this is a marketing article, not an academic one.

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Re: The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

Post by Diviacus » Wed Sep 04, 2013 8:53 am

I spent 2 weeks in Bulgaria 2 years ago, and I visited quite a number of ancient sites.
I must admit that the Roman sites (including the Plovdiv theatre) are not in good condition.
But I visited several Thracians tombs which are well maintained. The recently opened Alexandrovo museum is really nice, even if we only can see a fac simile of the actual tomb. The 2 archaeological museums of Sofia are very interesting also.
The Bulgarian archaeology is very dynamic nowadays, and I hope it will help to maintain ancient sites.

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Re: The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

Post by Minimalist » Wed Sep 04, 2013 9:17 am

It's an important issue and one which rarely gets the attention it deserves. It is hard enough for the archaeologists to get the money to dig. But once they do it falls on usually cash-strapped governments/museums to preserve the finds.

Pompeii is crumbling even without a civil war and Egypt? Well, Egypt is just a disaster.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Re: The 'Glory' of Bulgarian Archaeology

Post by » Wed Sep 04, 2013 12:33 pm

It's kind of a strange development. In the middle of the 19th century everyone was doing archaeology, and people were spending money on it like crazy. I guess it was kind of a fad (like pet rocks in the 70s, what was up with that?) but it worked. Every newspaper that respected itself had a section specialized in new finds and digs.

Then after WWII (even before, but on a level that was less obvious) there was a serious decline. Which is weird, because the aforementioned 'early' archaeology was kind of underdeveloped and tended to destroy a lot and focus only on historically important sites (just think of Schliemann and Troy), but now they got to a point where it actually teaches us a lot about history. And interest dwindled.

I don't exactly know all the mechanics behind these changes, but I fear that it's somehow connected with the enormous development of Global Economy and Capitalism. Somehow it created a Global thinking which pushed the importance of cultural heritage to the background. I guess it also created a new culture of mass consumption, standardized television and media, etc. I fear the day that Kanye West is more interesting than trying to protect sites like Pompeii... Oh wait, that happened. :|

But I'm happy to hear Bulgaria is stepping up :)

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