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Tiny Black Sea Island may be Hiding Lost Temple of Apollo

Tiny Black Sea Island may be Hiding Lost Temple of Apollo


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A lost temple dedicated to the Greek and Roman god Apollo may be hiding in Sozopol, Bulgaria, known in ancient times as Apollonia Pontica - ‘Apollonia on the Black Sea’.

Archaeologists with the Apollonia Pontica Excavation Project have been exploring the ancient city of Sozopol, Bulgaria. Their findings of temples, altars and artifacts suggest the area, and potentially an island off the coast, hides a lost temple to the patron god of the sun, music, poetry, art, medicine, light and knowledge, according to Popular Archaeology .

In 2009, Professor Krastina Panayotova from the Archaeology Institute of Bulgaria began excavations in Sozopol, but from 2013 the researchers focused most of their attention on a small island off the Black Sea coast.

The tiny island of St. Kirik is connected to Sozopol by a breakwater, and still hosts the ruins of a medieval monastery. Bulgarian news website The Sofia Echo reports that the remains of buildings gave researchers a look into one of the only ancient Greek colonies in Bulgaria, writing, “There was evidence of rituals performed in honor of the goddesses Demeter (of grain and harvests) and Persephone (goddess of the underworld, daughter of Demeter and Zeus). These finds included small jugs, amphoras and ceramic figurines.” Other artifacts excavated included bronze arrow points, fishing gear, and tools for fabric-making.

An ancient temple dedicated to Apollo in Corinth, Greece. (Olecorre/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

The Greek settlement of Apollonia Pontica (Sozopol), founded by Miletian colonists during the 7th Century BC and ruled by Thracian kings, became a prosperous city through its trade in copper, gold, olives, wine and other goods. It was here, on the small island of St Kirik that a well-known 12 meter (39 foot) high bronze statue of Apollo once stood.

Two hoplites, armed foot-soldiers in ancient Greece, wearing breastplate and armed with javelins and spears. 600 – 500 BC. (Marie-Lan Nguyen / CC BY 2.5 )

Passed down through ancient inscriptions and the word of Roman author Pliny the Elder, the statue was said to have been erected in the 5th century BC in front of Apollo’s temple and transported to Rome in 72 BC when the Romans sacked the city. It then spent many centuries on Capitoline Hill before becoming lost in the pages of history.

Boustrophedon (writing which flows left to right first line, then right to left next line) inscription from Apollonia, 6th c. BC. ( Public Domain )

The legends of a colossal statue, the local coins minted in the image of Apollo, the remains of an ancient Greek settlement, and other artifacts – including a Late Archaic temple complex with altar, an ancient Greek copper foundry, and an early Byzantine basilica and necropolis - may point the way to determining if and where a lost temple might be hidden.

Silver coins of Apollonia Pontika in Thrace, featuring crayfish, anchors, and gorgoneion (Gorgon head). (Classical Numismatic Group Inc./ CC BY SA 2.5 )

According to the Greek Reporter , in 2016, archaeologists working at the site of Apollonia Pontica unearthed the ruins of an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the goddesses of Demeter and Persephone. And in 2018, excavations revealed well-preserved ruins of a building and artifacts such as an amphora (wine vessel) depicting the Greek Oedipus myth and the Sphinx.

It is hoped the research conducted by Panayotova and associates will eventually be able to confirm the location of a lost temple of Apollo. In the meantime, intriguing finds will continue to shed light on the culture and lives of the people at the ancient settlements on the Black Sea coast.

More information can be found at the Balkan Heritage Field School website: http://www.bhfieldschool.org/project/APexc

Sculpture portraying Greek god Apollo. ( CC BY SA 4.0 )


8 Things You May Not Know About Emperor Claudius

1. His own family ridiculed his physical disabilities.
Claudius struggled with various physical ailments including tremors of the head and hands, a limp, a runny nose and foaming at the mouth. Historians have since speculated that he may have suffered from cerebral palsy or Tourette’s syndrome, but his family considered his condition a sign of weakness and a source of great public embarrassment. His own mother supposedly called him 𠇊 monstrosity of a human being, one that nature began and never finished,” and his sister is said to have prayed that Rome would never have to endure him becoming its emperor. He later faced constant humiliation at the hands of his nephew, the Roman Emperor Caligula. According to the ancient historian Suetonius, Caligula delighted in mocking his uncle for his infirmities, and if Claudius dozed off during dinner gatherings, guests were encouraged to pelt him “with the stones of olives and dates.”

2. He entered politics relatively late in life.
Claudius’ handicaps saw him repeatedly passed over for a chance at important public office. He was kept out of sight for most of his youth, and his royal relatives went out their way to place him far down the line of succession. Claudius’ uncle, the Emperor Tiberius, repeatedly rebuffed his requests to begin a political career, instead appointing him to low-prestige priesthoods. Claudius abandoned his political aspirations and filled his days with drinking, gambling and womanizing until A.D. 37, when his nephew Caligula assumed the imperial purple. Caligula was inexperienced and vulnerable, and to help shore up his claim to the throne, he appointed Claudius, then almost 46 years old, as his co-consul.

3. He was an accomplished historian.
When he wasn’t distracting himself with drink and games of chance, Claudius spent long hours immersed in books and academic study. Despite having been labeled a dullard by his family, he possessed a keen intellect that impressed the historian Livy, who encouraged him to take up writing. Claudius would later produce dozens of volumes on the history of Carthage, the Etruscans, the Roman Republic and even the Roman alphabet. All of the future emperor’s works have since been lost, but they appear to have been reasonably respected in their time. The legendary Roman historian Tacitus even used Claudius’ work as a source for his own writings.

Claudius is proclaimed emperor by the Praetorian Guard.

4. The Praetorian Guard installed him as emperor.
In A.D. 41, a cabal of Praetorian Guards—the sworn protectors of the Roman emperor𠅊ssassinated Caligula and brutally murdered his wife and child at the imperial palace. As the story goes, upon hearing the commotion, a frightened Claudius ran for his life and took refuge on a balcony. The Praetorians eventually found him cowering behind a curtain, but rather than killing him, they saluted him as Rome’s new emperor. Claudius’ disabilities may have given the impression that he could be easily manipulated, but once in power, he showed himself to be cleverer than previously believed. He deftly avoided a confrontation with the Roman senate, and purchased the loyalty of the Praetorian Guard with a massive 15,000-sesterce per man donative. His ailments appeared to improve after he took the throne, and he later claimed that he had only pretended to be dimwitted to protect himself. Some historians have even argued that he helped plan or was at least aware of the plot on Caligula’s life.

5. He completed the Roman annexation of Britain.
Upon taking power, Claudius faced rabid opposition from Rome’s senators, many of whom viewed him as a weak and illegitimate claimant to the throne. To help prove himself as a leader, he launched one of the most audacious military campaigns of the 1st century: the conquest of Britain. In A.D. 43, he dispatched a force of 40,000 troops and several war elephants across the English Channel. The Romans had soon conquered a stronghold at modern day Colchester, and eventually succeeding in capturing the Catuvellauni tribal leader Caratacus. Claudius visited Britain during the invasion and remained for 16 days before returning to a hero’s welcome in Rome. He was later honored with a triumphal arch on the Via Flaminia that hailed him as the man who 𠇋rought barbarian peoples beyond Ocean for the first time under Rome’s sway.”

6. He was an avid fan of the Roman games.
Claudius organized and attended chariot races and gladiatorial bouts religiously, often staying glued to his seat for hours at a time to avoid missing even a second of the bloodshed. He is even said to have joined in with the rest of the audience in counting aloud as gold pieces were paid to the victors. The Emperor once staged a massive, 19,000-man mock sea battle on the Fucine Lake, but perhaps his most bizarre public spectacle came during a trip to the Roman seaport at Ostia. According to an account by Pliny the Elder, when a killer wale became stuck in the city’s harbor, Claudius had the creature ensnared in nets, 𠇊nd setting out in person with the praetorian cohorts gave a show to the Roman people, soldiers showering lances from attacking ships, one of which I saw swamped by the beast’s waterspout and sunk.”

7. He was notoriously unlucky in love.
Claudius’ first betrothal was canceled after the girl’s parents endured a political disgrace, and his second bride fell ill and died on their wedding day. He would later marry four times, with each match seemingly more ill fated than the one that preceded it. He divorced his first wife on suspicions of adultery and murder, and then called off his second marriage for political reasons. Ancient sources describe Claudius’ third wife, Messalina, as scheming and sex obsessed. She supposedly carried out numerous affairs until A.D. 48, when she participated in a mock marriage ceremony with one of her lovers, the consul-elect Gaius Silius. Fearing that the pair planned to murder him and install Gaius on the throne, Claudius had both of them executed. The emperor swore he would never marry again, yet only a year later he wed the beautiful Agrippina, his niece. Agrippina proved even more treacherous than Messalina, and is said to have manipulated Claudius into naming her son Nero as his successor before engineering his assassination.

8. The circumstances of his death are still unclear.
Ancient chroniclers say Claudius was killed after ingesting a poisonous mushroom, but they differ on certain key facts. The historian Cassius Dio claims Agrippina procured the deadly fungus from a poisoner named Locusta and served it to Claudius during a dinner at the palace. Tacitus, meanwhile, says the emperor’s food taster delivered the dish, and when it didn’t immediately work, Claudius’ doctor shoved a poison-dipped feather down his throat to finish the job. Suetonius mentions both stories as a possibility, but argues the second dose of poison was mixed with a batch of gruel. Almost all the ancients say Agrippina masterminded the plot to ensure her son Nero’s ascension to the throne. Still, some modern historians have since argued that Claudius’ death could have been an accident caused by him unknowingly eating an Amanita phalloides𠅊 highly toxic strain of mushroom also known as �th Cap.”


Contents

The nearest coastal location to the island is Kubanskyi Island on the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta, located 35 km (22 mi) away between the Bystroe Channel and Skhidnyi Channel. The closest Romanian coastal city, Sulina, is 45 km (28 mi) away. The closest Ukrainian city is Vylkove, 50 km (31 mi) however, there also is a port Ust-Dunaisk, 44 km (27 mi) away from the island.

For the end of 2011 in Zmiinyi Island coastal waters 58 fish species (12 of which are included into the Red Book of Ukraine) [3] and six crab species were recorded. A presidential decree of 9 December 1998, Number 1341/98, declared the island and coastal waters as a state-protected area. The total protected area covers 232 hectares.

The island was one of the last hauling-out sites in the basin for critically endangered Mediterranean monk seals until the 1950s. [4]

About 100 inhabitants live on the island, mostly frontier guard servicemen with their families and technical personnel. In 2003, an initiative of the Odessa I. I. Mechnikov National University established the Ostriv Zmiinyi marine research station every year at which scientists and students from the university conduct research on local fauna, flora, geology, meteorology, atmospheric chemistry, and hydrobiology.

The island is currently demilitarized and under development. In accordance with a 1997 Treaty between Romania and Ukraine, the Ukrainian authorities withdrew an army radio division, demolished a military radar, and transferred all other infrastructure to civilians. Eventually, the Romania-Ukraine international relationships soured (see "Maritime delimitation" section) when Romania tried to assert that the island is no more than a rock in the sea. In February 2007, the Verkhovna Rada approved establishing a rural settlement as part of Vylkove city which is located some distance away at the mouth of the Danube. However, the island had been continually [ clarification needed ] populated even before although not officially.

In addition to a helicopter platform, in 2002 a pier was built for ships with up to 8 meter draught, and construction of a harbour is underway. The island is supplied with navigation equipment, including a 150-year-old lighthouse. Electric power is provided by a dual solar/diesel power station. The island also has civil infrastructure such as the marine research station, a post office, a bank (branch of the Ukrainian bank "Aval"), the first-aid station, a satellite television provider, a phone network, a cell phone tower, and an Internet link. Most of building structures are located either in the middle of the island by a lighthouse or the northeastern peninsula of the island by its pier.

The island lacks a fresh water source. [5] Its border guard contingent is regularly resupplied by air. [6] Since 2009 the development of the island was suspended due to financing which caused a great degree of concern of local authorities asking for more funding from the state. [7]

Lighthouse Edit

The Snake Island Lighthouse was built in the autumn of 1842 [8] by the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Empire. The lighthouse is an octagonal-shaped building, 12 meters tall, located near the highest elevated area of the island, 40 meters above the sea level. The lighthouse built on site of the previously destroyed temple of Achilles is adjacent to a housing building. The remnants of the Greek temple were found in 1823.

As lighthouse technology progressed, in 1860 new lighthouse lamps were bought from England, and one of them was installed in the Lighthouse in 1862. In the early 1890s a new kerosene lamp was installed, with lamp rotating equipment and flat lenses. It improved the lighthouse visibility to up to 20 miles (32 km). The lighthouse was either destroyed or damaged in the First World War (it is not clear which) It was subsequently rebuilt (see paragraph marked "World War I" below)

The lighthouse was heavily damaged during World War II by Soviet aviation and German retreating forces. It was restored at the end of 1944 by the Odessa military radio detachment. In 1949 it was further reconstructed and equipped by the Black Sea Fleet. The lighthouse was further upgraded in 1975 and 1984. In 1988 a new radio beacon "KPM-300" was installed with radio signal range of 150 miles (240 km).

In August 2004, the lighthouse was equipped with a radio beacon "Yantar-2M-200", which provides differential correction signal for global navigation satellite systems GPS and GLONASS.

The lighthouse is listed as UKR 050 by ARLHS, EU-182 by IOTA, and BS-07 by UIA.

The island was named by the Greeks Leuke (Greek: Λευκὴ , "White Island") and was similarly known by Romans as Alba, probably because of the white marble formations that can be found on the isle. According to Dionysius Periegetes, it was called Leuke, because the serpents there were white. [9] According to Arrian, it was called Leuke due to its color. [10] He mentioned the island was also referred to as the Island of Achilles (Greek: Ἀχιλλέως νῆσος [10] and Ἀχίλλεια νῆσος [11] ) and the Racecourse of Achilles (Greek: Δρόμον Ἀχιλλέως [10] and Ἀχίλλειος δρόμος [11] ).

The island was sacred to the hero Achilles and had a temple of the hero with a statue inside. [12] Solinus wrote that on the island there was a sacred shrine. [13] According to Arrian in the temple there were many offerings to Achilles and Patroclus. [10] Furthermore, people came to the island and sacrificed or set animals free in honour of Achilles. [14] He also added that people said that Achilles and Patroclus appeared in front of them as hallucinations or in their dreams while they were approaching the coast of the island or sailing a short distance from it. [15] Pliny the Elder wrote that the tomb of the hero was on the island. [16]

The uninhabited isle Achilleis ("of Achilles") was the major sanctuary of the hero, where "seabirds dipped their wings in water to sweep the temples clean", according to Constantine D. Kyriazis. Several temples of Thracian Apollo can be found here, and there are submerged ruins.

According to Greek myths the island was created by Poseidon for Achilles and Helen to inhabit, but also for sailors to have an island to anchor at the Euxine Sea, [17] but the sailors should never sleep on the island. [18] According to a surviving epitome of the lost Trojan War epic of Arctinus of Miletus, the remains of Achilles and Patroclus were brought to this island by Thetis, to be put in a sanctuary, furnishing the aition, or founding myth of the Hellenic cult of Achilles centred here. According to another myth Thetis gave the island to Achilles and let him live there. [10] The oracle of Delphi sent Leonymus (other writers called him Autoleon [19] ) to the Island, telling him that there Ajax the Great would appear to him and cure his wound. [20] Leonymus said that on the island he saw Achilles, Ajax the Great, Ajax the Lesser, Patroclus, Antilochus and Helen. In addition, Helen told him to go to Stesichorus at Himera and tell him that the loss of his sight was caused by her wrath. [21] Pomponius Mela wrote that Achilles was buried there. [22]

Ruins believed to be of a square temple dedicated to Achilles, 30 meters to a side, were discovered by the Russian naval Captain N. D. Kritzkii in 1823, but the subsequent construction of a lighthouse on the very site obliterated all trace of it. [23] Ovid, who was banished to Tomis, mentions the island, so do Ptolemy and Strabo. [24] The island is described in Pliny the Elder's Natural History, IV.27.1. It is also described in Arrian's Letter to Emperor Hadrian, a historical document movingly drawn upon by Marguerite Yourcenar in her Memoirs of Hadrian.

Several ancient inscriptions were found on the island, including a 4th-century BC Olbiopolitan decree which praises someone for defeating and driving out the pirates that lived on the "holy island".

Modern history Edit

The Greeks during the Ottoman Empire renamed it Fidonisi (Greek: Φιδονήσι , "Snake Island") and the island gave its name to the naval Battle of Fidonisi, fought between the Ottoman and Russian fleets in 1788, during the course of the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–1792.

In 1829, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1828–1829, the island became part of the Russian Empire until 1856.

In 1877, following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878, the Ottoman Empire gave the island and Northern Dobruja region to Romania, as a reimbursement for the Russian annexation of Romania's Southern Bessarabia region.

World War I Edit

As part of the Romanian alliance with Russia, the Russians operated a wireless station on the island, which was destroyed on 25 June 1917 when it was bombarded by the Turkish cruiser Medilli (built as SMS Breslau of the German Navy). The lighthouse (built by Marius Michel Pasha in 1860) was also damaged and possibly destroyed. [25]

Interwar period Edit

The 1920 Treaty of Versailles reconfirmed the island as part of Romania. The lighthouse was rebuilt in 1922.

World War II Edit

The island, under Romanian control during the Second World War, was the location of a radio station used by the Axis forces, which turned it into a target for the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. [26] The island's defences mainly consisted of several 122 mm and 76 mm anti-aircraft guns, captured from the Russians. [27] The Romanian marine platoon defending the island was also equipped with two 45 mm coastal guns, two 37 mm anti-aircraft guns and two anti-aircraft machine guns. [28]

The first naval action took place on 23 June 1941, when the Soviet destroyer leader Kharkov together with the destroyers Bezposhchadny and Smyshlyonyi and several torpedo boats ran a patrol near the island, but found no Axis ships. [29]

On 9 July 1941, the Soviet destroyer leader Tashkent together with four other destroyers (Bodry, Boiky, Bezuprechny and Bezposhchadny) conducted a shipping sweep operation near the island, but did not make any contacts. [30]

On 7 September 1941, two Soviet submarines of the Shchuka-class (Shch-208 and Shch-213) and three of the M-class (M-35, M-56 and M-62) conducted a patrol near the island. [31]

On 29–30 October and 5 November 1942, the Romanian minelayers Amiral Murgescu and Dacia, together with the Romanian destroyers Regina Maria, Regele Ferdinand, the Romanian flotilla leader Mărăști, the Romanian gunboat Stihi and four German R-boats laid two mine barrages around the island. [32]

On 1 December 1942, while the Soviet cruiser Voroshilov together with the destroyer Soobrazitelny were bombarding the island with forty-six 180 mm and fifty-seven 100 mm shells, the cruiser was damaged by Romanian mines, but it managed to return to Poti for repairs under her own power. During the brief bombardment, she struck the radio station, barracks and lighthouse on the island, but failed to inflict significant losses. [33] [34] [35] [36] [37]

On 11 December 1942, the Soviet submarine Shch-212 was sunk by a Romanian minefield near the island along with all of her crew of 44. [38] [39] [40] The Soviet submarine M-31 was either sunk as well by the Romanian mine barrages near the island on 17 December, [41] [42] or sunk with depth charges by the Romanian flotilla leader Mărășești on 7 July 1943. [43]

On 25 August 1943, two Romanian motorboats spotted a Soviet submarine near the island and attacked her with depth charges, but it managed to escape. [44]

The Romanian marines were evacuated from the island and Soviet troops occupied it on 29–30 August 1944. [45] [46]

Postwar history Edit

The Paris Peace Treaties of 1947 between the protagonists of World War II stipulated that Romania cede Northern Bukovina, the Hertza region, Budjak, and Bessarabia to the Soviet Union, but made no mention of the mouths of the Danube and Snake Island.

Until 1948, Snake Island was a part of Romania. On February 4, 1948, during the delimitation of the frontier, Romania and the Soviet Union signed a protocol that left under Soviet administration the Snake Island and several islets on the Danube south of the 1917 Romanian-Russian border. Romania disputed the validity of this protocol, since it was never ratified by either of the two countries nevertheless it did not make any official claim on the territories.

The same year, in 1948, during the Cold War, a Soviet radar post was built on the isle (for both naval and anti-aircraft purposes).

The Soviet Union's possession of Snake Island was confirmed in the Treaty between the Government of the People's Republic of Romania and the Government of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics on the Romanian-Soviet State Border Regime, Collaboration and Mutual Assistance on Border Matters, signed in Bucharest on February 27, 1961.

Between 1967 and 1987, the USSR and Romanian side negotiated the delimitation of the continental shelf. The Romanian side refused to accept a Russian offer of 4,000 km 2 (1,500 sq mi) out of 6,000 km 2 (2,300 sq mi) around the island in 1987.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited control over the island. A number of Romanian parties and organizations consistently claimed it should be included in its territory. According to the Romanian side, in the peace treaties of 1918 and 1920 (after World War I), the isle was considered part of Romania, and it was not mentioned in the 1947 border-changing treaty between Romania and the Soviet Union.

In 1997, Romania and Ukraine signed a treaty in which both states "reaffirm that the existing border between them is inviolable and therefore, they shall refrain, now and in future, from any attempt against the border, as well as from any demand, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all the territory of the Contracting Party". However, both sides have agreed that if no resolution on maritime borders can be reached within two years, then either side can go to the International Court of Justice to seek a final ruling.

In 2008, twelve Ukrainian border guards died when their helicopter flying from Odessa to Snake Island crashed, killing all but one on board. [6]

The status of Snake Island was important for delimitation of continental shelf and exclusive economic zones between the two countries. If Snake Island were recognized as an island, then continental shelf around it should be considered as Ukrainian water. If Snake Island were not an island, but a rock, [5] then in accordance with international law the maritime boundary between Romania and Ukraine should be drawn without taking into consideration the isle location.

On 4 July 2003 the President of Romania Ion Iliescu and the President of Russia Vladimir Putin signed a treaty about friendship and cooperation. Romania promised not to contest territories of Ukraine or Moldova, which it lost to Soviet Union after World War II, but requested that Russia as a successor of the Soviet Union recognized in some form its responsibility for what had happened. [47]

On 16 September 2004 the Romanian side brought a case against Ukraine to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a dispute concerning the maritime boundary between the two States in the Black Sea. [48]

On February 3, 2009, the ICJ delivered its judgment, which divided the sea area of the Black Sea along a line which was between the claims of each country. The Court invoked the disproportionality test in adjudicating the dispute, noting that the ICJ, "as its jurisprudence has indicated, it may on occasion decide not to take account of very small islands or decide not to give them their full potential entitlement to maritime zones, should such an approach have a disproportionate effect on the delimitation line under consideration" and owing to a previous agreement between Ukraine and Romania, the island "should have no effect on the delimitation in this case, other than that stemming from the role of the 12-nautical-mile arc of its territorial sea" previously agreed between the parties. [49]


Constantine I

Constantine set about expanding the territory of old Byzantium, dividing it into 14 sections and constructing a new outer wall. He lured noblemen through gifts of land, and transferred art and other ornaments from Rome for display in the new capital. Its wide avenues were lined by statues of great rulers like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, as well as one of Constantine himself as Apollo.

The emperor also sought to populate the city through offering residents free food rations. With a system of aqueducts already in place, he ensured access to water through the widening city by the construction of the Binbirdirek Cistern.

In 330 A.D., Constantine established the city that would make its mark in the ancient world as Constantinople, but also would become known by other names, including the Queen of Cities, Istinpolin, Stamboul and Istanbul. It would be governed by Roman law, observe Christianity and adopt Greek as its primary language, although it would serve as a melting pot of races and cultures due to its unique geographic location straddling Europe and Asia.


Traces of First Ancient Greek Colonists in 7th Century BC Found under Byzantine City at Bulgaria’s Chernomorets on Black Sea Coast

Cape Chervenka (in the front) on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast harbors the ruins of the Early Byzantine city of Chrisosotira / Talaskara, and, as it turns out, traces from the very first Ancient Greek colonists on the Western Black Sea coast. Photo: National Museum of History

Archaeological layers with remains from the earliest Ancient Greek colonists, or settlers, on today’s Bulgarian Black Sea coast dating back to the Archaic period in the 7 th – 6 th century BC have been surprisingly found by archaeologists excavating an Early Byzantine Empire city near Bulgaria’s Chernomorets.

The discoveries have been made by a team led by archaeologists Prof. Ivan Hristov and Dr. Margarita Popova from the National Museum of History in Sofia.

The archaeological team had set off on their sixth annual expedition to study the Byzantine city of Chrisosotira located on a small Black Sea peninsula near Chernomorets, and existing in the early days of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire), from the 5 th until the 7 th century when it was destroyed by barbarian invasions.

The Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine fortress, Chrisosotira (“Golden Savior, Golden Christ”), also known as Talaskara, is located on Cape Chervenka, a small peninsula on Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast near the resort town of Chernomorets, and 2 km northwest of the resort town of Sozopol.

Not unlike other small peninsulas in the region, Cape Chervenka has a narrow neck leading to a wider cape.

The fortress walls of Talaskara / Chrisosotira were built as part of the large-scale fortress construction at the time of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565 AD).

In 2018, Hristov’s archaeological team found ample evidence that Chrisosotira / Talaskara on Cape Chervenka near Bulgaria’s Chernomorets was indeed burned down and destroyed by a barbarian invasion of Slavs and Avars in the 7th century AD.

During their 2019 digs in the Early Byzantine city of Chrisosotira / Talaskara, the researchers excavated four more residential buildings in its southern section. They have found Late Antiquity artifacts such as rare coins and pottery vessels.

It was beneath one of the Early Byzantine homes that the archaeologists unexpectedly came across an archaeological layer from the very beginning of the Ancient Greek colonization of the Western Black Sea coast, which is today in Bulgaria.

“The surprise for the [archaeological] team this year has been the newly discovered layer with material from the Archaic Era of Ancient Greece – the 7 th – 6 th century BC,” the National Museum of History in Sofia says.

“Beneath the floor level of one the richest Byzantine houses there have been found dozens of fragments of painted ceramic vessels, which were the work of the first Ancient Greek settlers in this part of the Black Sea,” it adds.

The Museum points out that the rare finds discovered in the Archaic Era layer in Chrysosotira near Bulgaria’s Chernomorets include also bronze “arrow coins” from the first settlers of the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica – today’s Black Sea town of Sozopol in Southeast Bulgaria – as well as a bronze Ancient Greek arrow from the 7 th century BC.

“Bronze arrow coins are a type of pre-coin form [of exchange]. Before coin minting began, bronze arrows were used as the means of exchange in Apollonia and the vicinity,” Bulgaria’s National Museum of History explains.

“The discovery of arrow coins on the [Chrysosotira] peninsula is a prerequisite to look for a temple of some of the Ancient Greek deities such as god Apollo – because the arrow coins were also left as sacrificial gifts at the altars of the gods,” it elaborates.

In another recent case, 2,600-year-old arrow coins were discovered in the Black Sea town of Sozopol, ancient Apollonia Pontica, back in 2016.

The discovery of an Ancient Greek archaeological layer from the Archaic Period (7th – 6th century BC) has come as a surprise to the team excavating the Early Byzantine city near Bulgaria’s Chernomorets. Photos: National Museum of History

The Museum also cites experts in Antiquity ceramics as reminding that imported pottery from the eastern parts of Ancient Greece has also been discovered outside the urban core of Apollonia Pontica, today’s Sozopol, where it is found at its most diverse.

Similar Ancient Greek pottery finds have been discovered during underwater archaeology research south of the polis of Apollonia Pontica, in the mouth of the Ropotamo River, on Cape Urdoviza, today’s town of Kiten, and on Cape Atiya.

Eastern Ancient Greek pottery has also been discovered in the Gulf of Burgas in the Black Sea, during excavations in an area called Kostadin Cheshma, near the town of Debelt, Burgas District, in Southeast Bulgaria (which itself is the successor of the Ancient Roman city of Deultum and the medieval Bulgarian and Byzantine city of Debelt).

“There is almost no data about the distribution of Ionian pottery from the 7 th – 6 th century BC in the other Hellenic poleis along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. This circumstance has to do with both the condition of the exploration, and with the later dates of establishment of the other city-states,” explains the National Museum of History in Sofia.

It notes that there are published papers about two Ionian pottery fragments discovered in ancient Mesembria, today’s town of Nessebar, Apollonia Pontica’s rival in the Antiquity.

Some Ionian pottery has also been discovered in Odessos, today’s Black Sea city of Varna, which, just like Apollonia Pontica, was also a colony of the Ancient Greek city state of Miletus in Asia Minor. Unlike Apollonia, however, Odessos is situated in the northern part of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast.

“The distribution of imported Eastern Ancient Greek pottery in the archaeological sites in the interior of Ancient Thrace is extremely rare,” Bulgaria’s National Museum of History points out.

“This type of Ancient Greek pottery is encountered mostly in areas located in close proximity to the Black Sea coast, or along the large rivers connecting Ancient Thrace with the region of Aegean Sea, such as Karnobat, Yambol, Stara Zagora, and Koprivlen,” it adds,

“The discoveries of Prof. Ivan Hristov’s team are shedding new lightf on the most ancient history of a multi-layered archaeological site where remains from the Classical Era of Ancient Greece and the Hellenistic Era have also been discovered,” the Museum concludes with respect to the 2019 excavations of the Early Byzantine city of Chrysosotira near Bulgaria’s Chernomorets.

The Museum points out that the latest traces of inhabitants on the Chrysosotira Peninsula date back to the 13 th – 14 th century when the area kept changing hands between the Second Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire.

The location of Cape Chervenka with the ruins of the Early Byzantine city of Chrysosotira / Talaskara in Southeast Bulgaria. Maps: Google Maps

Archaeologist Ivan Hristov specializes in the study of sites on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. He recently published a book entitled “Mare Ponticum. Coastal Fortresses and Harbor Zones in the Province of Haemimontus, 5 th – 7 th Century AD”, which looks at the Haemimontus province of the Early Byzantine Empire in the Late Antiquity and early Middle Ages.

In August 2018, he discovered a sunken fortress from Ancient Thrace at Sveti Toma (St. Thomas) Island, off the coast of Primorsko.

North African amphorae (among other “exotic” artifacts) from the Early Byzantine period have been found before in Bulgaria’s coastal regions, including by Hristov’s team in the Talaskara / Chrisosotira Fortress back in 2015.

Last year, the National Museum of History in Sofia awarded the Bulgarian Navy for its permitting and assisting the exploration of numerous archaeological sites along Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, such as Chrisosotira / Talaskara, which used to be or still are naval military bases.

Relevant Books on Amazon.com:

The Late Antiquity and Early Byzantine fortress Talaskara on Cape Chervenka, also known as Chrisosotira(“Golden Savior, Golden Christ”) is located on a small peninsula on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast near the resort town of Chernomorets, and 2 km northwest of the resort town of Sozopol.

Not unlike the peninsula of the Old Town of Nessebar, another Black Sea resort town, Cape Chervenka has a narrow neck leading to a wider cape with an area of 68 decares (app. 17 acres), which was surrounded with a robust fortress wall with large fortress towers every 30 meters.

The fortress wall of the Byzantine fortress Talaskara on Cape Chervenka (Chrisosotira) is from the 6 th century, and was built as part of the large-scale fortress construction at the time of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565 AD).

For a long time, Cape Chervenka was a military base of the Bulgarian Navy, and Bulgarian archaeologists gained access to it only in 2014 when a team led by archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Ivan Hristov, Deputy Director of the Bulgarian National Museum of History, conducted drilling excavations with a special permit from Bulgaria’s Defense Ministry.

A large fortress tower with dimensions 5 by 6 meters unearthed by Ivan Hristov’s team in 2014 is taken to indicate that the fortified Byzantine settlement located on Cape Chervenka was a rich city.

The last time the fortress on Chervenka was used was during the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829 when the navy of the Russian Empire used it to set up a base where it accepted tens of thousands of Bulgarian refugees fleeing Ottoman Turkish atrocities who were then transported by sea to the region of Bessarabia (in today’s Moldova and Ukraine), and the Taurica (Crimean) Peninsula, and settled there.


Slab with Marching Ancient Greek Warriors Discovered at Apollo Temples on Ancient Black Sea Island in Bulgaria’s Sozopol

The newsly discovered slab fragment from ca. 500 BC with marching hoplites, the Ancient Greek citizen warriors who formed the dreadful phalanx formation, from the sacred zone with two Apollo temples on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

A 2,500-year-old slab, a relief depicting marching Ancient Greek warriors, or hoplites, has been discovered among other finds in the recent archaeological excavations of two temples of ancient god Apollo on the St. Cyricus Island, today a peninsula, in the Bulgarian Black Sea town of Sozopol.

The newly discovered slab with Ancient Greek warriors, or hoplites, appears to a piece of a larger depiction, other parts of which were discovered during digs in 2018 and 2019 in the zone of the two temples of deity Apollo Iatros (“The Healer”) – one from the Late Archaic period and one from the Early Classical period of Ancient Greece – on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Sozopol.

The St. Cyricus Island, more precisely named Sts. Quiricus and Julietta Island, is rich in archaeological structures from the dawn of the settlement of Sozopol, which emerged as the Ancient Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica on the Western Black Sea coast in the 6 th century BC.

The St. Cyricus Island (the Sts. Quiricus and Julietta Island) is believed to have been the site of the Colossus of Apollonia Pontica, a large, 13-meter-tall bronze statue of Ancient Greek god Apollo towering in the harbor of the Greek colony for four centuries before it was seized by the Romans and taken to Rome. The Colossus of Apollonia Pontica has been likened to the taller and far more famous Colossus of Rhodes.

Among the many archaeological wonders of Bulgaria’s Sozopol is also the 2010 discovery of relics of St. John the Baptist in an Early Christian monastery on the nearby island of St. Ivan (St. John), whose presence has been construed as a counterbalance to the religious significance of the ancient city in the pagan period.

In the fall of 2020, the Bulgarian government and the French Ambassdor to Bulgaria announced an initiative to turn the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol into a museum of archaeology with aid from France, the OAE, and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The newsly discovered slab fragment from ca. 500 BC with marching hoplites, the Ancient Greek citizen warriors who formed the dreadful phalanx formation, from the sacred zone with two Apollo temples on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

The newsly discovered slab fragment from ca. 500 BC with marching hoplites, the Ancient Greek citizen warriors who formed the dreadful phalanx formation, from the sacred zone with two Apollo temples on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol. Photo: National Institute and Museum of Archaeology

The newsly discovered slab fragment from ca. 500 BC with marching hoplites, the Ancient Greek citizen warriors who formed the dreadful phalanx formation, from the sacred zone with two Apollo temples on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Black Sea town of Sozopol, as displayed in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

A sketch showing the likely full relief of Ancient Greek hoplite warriors from Sozopol, of which the newly discovered fragment is a part. Photo: Archaeologist Margarit Damyanov, 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition poster

A fragment from a slab with marching Ancient Greek warriors from the collection of the Louvre Museum in Paris.

A drawing depicting hoplites, or Ancient Greek warriors. Image: Wikipedia

The relief slab depicting marching Ancient Greek warriors from the Apollo temples site in Sozopol was discovered during last year’s archaeological excavations. It dates back to ca. 500 BC.

It has been presented in the “Bulgarian Archaeology 2020” annual exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, which was opened in February 2021. It shows the marching hoplites with raised helmets, and holding spears.

The 2020 archaeological excavations on the St. Cyricus island in Sozopol focused on further research of the temenos, i.e. a sacred ground surrounding an ancient temple, which harbors the ruins of two temples of ancient god Apollo, one from the Late Archaic period of Ancient Greece (525 BC – 500 BC), and another from the Early Classical period of Ancient Greece (490 BC – 470 BC).

In the city of Apollonia Pontica, Apollo was worshipped with the nickname Iatros, i.e. “healer”.

The site was excavated by archaeologists Krastina Panayotova and Margarit Damyanov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and Daniela Stoyanova from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”.

More specifically, the excavation spot where the archaeological team found the newly discovered relief with marching Ancient Greek hoplites is located before the southeast façade of the largest modern-era building on the St. Cyricus Island, the so called Fishing School.

The Fishing School was built in the 1920s. In reality, it was a secret school for the training of Bulgarian naval officers in the wake of World War I as Bulgaria was prohibited from having a navy under the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, part of the Versailles Treaty between the Entente and the Central Powers.

“[In 2020,] we continued the research of the area between the [Archaic Apollo] temple and the staircase of the Fishing School. Its foundations are dug into a rich archaeological layer connected with the Archaic Ancient Greek settlement from the first half and the middle of the 6 th century BC,” the archaeological team informs in the official poster for the site in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition.

In the said layer, the archaeologists found fragments from two figural fragrance vessels and terracotta items, two bronze arrow tips, and other artifacts.

“Above it there is a thick layer of limestone debris used for leveling at some point after the construction of the [Archaic] temple [of Apollo],” the archaeologists explain.

It was in that upper layer that they have discovered an arrow coin, a fragmented black-figure skyphos (a two-handed deep wine cup), and two more fragments from ceramic slabs with relief decoration depicting marching Ancient Greek warriors.

“[The newly found fragments of the slab with Ancient Greek hoplites] complement the ones [we] discovered in 2018 and 2019. They already number 20, a large part of which belong to the same scene,” archaeological team explains.

The archaeologists add that the newly found artifacts, including fragments from construction pottery from the second half of the 6 th century BC, demonstrate “the existence of other structures, some of which predate the construction of the temple” of Apollo from the Archaic period on the St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Sozopol.

The excavation site of the temenos, or sacred zone, of the two Apollo temples from the 6th-5th century BC, southeast of the 1920s Fishing School building on the St. Cyricus Island, today a peninsula, in Bulgaria’s Sozopol. Photo: Archaeologist Margarit Damyanov, 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition poster

The ruins of the Apollo temple on St. Cyricus Island from the Late Archaic period of Ancient Greece (525 BC – 500 BC). Photo: Archaeologist Margarit Damyanov, 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition poster

The ruins of the Apollo temple from the Early Classical period of Ancient Greece on St. Cyricus Island in Bulgaria’s Sozopol, with the antefix with palmette visible in the middle. Photo: Archaeologist Margarit Damyanov, 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology Exhibition poster

“[We] have exposed the outer face of [the temple’s] western wall [which is] made up of quadrae of porous limestone and with a maximum preserved height of 1.5 meters,” the researchers inform.

They also reveal they have finished excavating another Apollo temple in the same temenos, or sacred zone, on the small Black Sea Island, part of the Ancient Greek city of Apollonia Pontica in today’s Southeast Bulgaria.

That is a temple from the Early Classical period of Ancient Greece (490 BC – 470 BC), which was located right next to the Archaic temple.

“[We] have completed the research of the temple from the Early Classical Period located right to the east of the Late Archaic temple. The preserved height of the walls, including one row from the superstructure, is 1.1 meters,” the archaeologists say.

They have discovered an antefix (an ornament at the eaves of a classical building concealing the ends of the joint tiles of the roof) from the third quarter of the 6 th century BC and an older wall from crushed stones incorporated into the Classical Apollo temple are deemed as testimony to the existence of earlier structures.

Artifacts found in the latest excavations of this slightly younger temple of Apollo on the St. Cyrucus Island in Bulgaria’s Sozopol including two more bronze arrow tips and fragments from three terracotta items.

Items 11-16, inclduing the slab with marching Ancient Greek hoplites (15), are artifacts from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

Items 11-16, inclduing the slab with marching Ancient Greek hoplites (15), are artifacts from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

A figural vessel for incenses (“a kore with a dove”) from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

A fragment from a black-figure skyphos (wine cup) from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

Bronze arrow tips (13) and a bronze arrow coin (14) from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

Bronze arrow tips (13) and a bronze arrow-coin (14) from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

An antefix (an ornament at the eaves of a classical building concealing the ends of the joint tiles of the roof) with palmette from the third quarter of the 6th century BC, from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

The bronze arrow tips and arrow-coin, and the antefix (an ornament at the eaves of a classical building concealing the ends of the joint tiles of the roof) with palmette from the third quarter of the 6th century BC, from the latest excavations on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol included in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition at the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia. Photo: ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com

The archaeologists have discovered that both temples of Apollo on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol, the one from the Late Archaic period and the one from the Early Classical period of Ancient Greece, had no peripteros, i.e. colonnades on all four sides of their naos.

Instead, each of these Apollo temples probably had two columns in antas (antae), i.e. one post on either side of their respective entrances.

The newly found slab with Ancient Greek warriors, or hoplites, as the citizen-warriors of the Ancient Greek city-states were known, from the Black Sea town of Sozopol is deemed one of the most intriguing discoveries presented in the 2020 Bulgarian Archaeology exhibition.

Learn more about the ancient and medieval history of Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Sozopol in the Background Infonotes below!

The building of the former fishing school, a secret school for the training of Bulgarian naval officers in the wake of World War I, was built in the 1920s, and is the largest building on the St. Cyricus Island in Sozopol: Photo: French Ambassador Florence Robine on Twitter

A modern-day view of the St. Cyricus Island (a peninsula connected to the mainland since 1927) which is where the 5th century BC 13-meter statue of Apollo the Healer, i.e. the Colossus of Apollonia, was located. Photo: Wikipedia

A photo showing the St. Cyricus Island ca. 1920, before it was linked to the Bulgarian mainland in 1927. The site was a base of the Bulgarian Navy until 2007. The naval base was erected in the 1920s under the guise of a fishing school for the training of Bulgarian naval officers since under the Treaty of Neuilles-sur-Seine of 1919 that ended World War I for Bulgaria, the country was not allowed to have a military fleet. Photo: Lost Bulgaria

A 2011 collage showing what the Colossus of Apollonia might have looked like on the St. Cyricus Island (today a peninsula) in Bulgaria’s Sozopol. Photo: e-vestnik

The location of the St. Cyricus Island, now a peninsula connected with the mainland, to the west of Sozopol’s Old Town. Map: Google Maps

The location of the St. Cyricus Island, now a peninsula connected with the mainland, to the west of Sozopol’s Old Town. Map: Google Maps

The location of the St. Cyricus Island, now a peninsula connected with the mainland, to the west of Sozopol’s Old Town. Map: Google Maps

Also check out these stories about Sozopol’s rich archaeological heritage:

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The history of the resort town Sozopol (Apollonia Pontica, Sozopolis) on Bulgaria’s Southern Black Sea coast started during the Early Bronze Age, in the 5 th millennium BC, as testified by the discoveries of artifacts found in underwater archaeological research, such as dwellings, tools, pottery, and anchors. In the 2 nd -1 st millennium BC, the area was settled by the Ancient Thracian tribe Scyrmiades who were experienced miners trading with the entire Hellenic world.

An Ancient Greek colony was founded there in 620 BC by Greek colonists from Miletus on Anatolia’s Aegean coast. The colony was first called Anthea but was later renamed to Apollonia in favor of Ancient Greek god Apollo, a patron of the setters who founded the town. It became known as Apollonia Pontica (i.e. of the Black Sea). Since the Late Antiquity, the Black Sea town has also been called Sozopolis.

The Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica emerged as a major commercial and shipping center, especially after the 5 th century AD when it became allied with the Odrysian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians. As of the end of the 6 th century BC, Apollonia Pontica started minting its own coins, with the anchor appearing on them as the symbol of the polis.

Apollonia became engaged in a legendary rivalry with another Ancient Greek colony, Mesembria, today’s Bulgarian resort town of Nessebar, which was founded north of the Bay of Burgas in the 6 th century BC by settlers from Megara, a Greek polis located in West Attica. According to some historical accounts, in order to counter Mesembria’s growth, Apollonia Pontica founded its own colony, Anchialos, today’s Pomorie (though other historical sources do not support this sequence of events), which is located right to the south of Mesembria.

Apollonia managed to preserve its independence during the military campaigns of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon under Philip II (r. 359-336 BC), and his son Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BC). Apollonia, today’s Sozopol, is known to have had a large temple of Greek god Apollo (possibly located on the Sts. Quiricus and Julietta Island, also known as the St. Cyricus Island), with a 12-meter statue of Apollo created by Calamis, a 5 th century BC sculptor from Ancient Athens.

In 72 BC, Apollonia Pontica was conquered by Roman general Lucullus who took the Apollo statue to Rome and placed it on the Capitoline Hill. After the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in the Roman Empire, the statue was destroyed.

In the Late Antiquity, Apollonia, also called Sozopolis lost some of its regional center positions to Anchialos, and the nearby Roman colony Deultum (Colonia Flavia Pacis Deultensium). After the division of the Roman Empire into a Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (today known as Byzantium) in 395 AD, Apollonia / Sozopolis became part of the latter. Its Late Antiquity fortress walls were built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anasthasius (r. 491-518 AD), and the city became a major fortress on the Via Pontica road along the Black Sea coast protecting the European hinterland of Constantinople.

In 812 AD, Sozopol was first conquered for Bulgaria by Khan (or Kanas) Krum, ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) in 803-814 AD. In the following centuries of medieval wars between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire, Sozopol changed hands numerous times. The last time it was conquered by the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) was during the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Todor (Teodor) Svetoslav Terter (r. 1300-1322 AD).

However, in 1366 AD, during the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (r. 1331-1371 AD), Sozopol was conquered by Amadeus IV, Count of Savoy from 1343 to 1383 AD, who sold it to Byzantium. During the period of the invasion of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 14 th century and the beginning of the 15 th century AD, Sozopol was one of the last free cities in Southeast Europe. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the spring of 1453 AD, two months before the conquest of Constantinople despite the help of naval forces from Venice and Genoa.

In the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Sozopol was a major center of (Early) Christianity with a number of large monasteries such as the St. John the Baptist Monastery on St. Ivan Island off the Sozopol coast where in 2010 Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov made a major discovery by finding relics of St. John the Baptist the St. Apostles Monastery the St. Nikolay (St. Nikolaos or St. Nicholas) the Wonderworker Monastery the Sts. Quriaqos and Julietta Monastery on the St. Cyricus (St. Kirik) Island, the Holy Mother of God Monastery, the St. Anastasia Monastery.

During the Ottoman period Sozopol was often raided by Cossack pirates. In 1629, all Christian monasteries and churches in the city were burned down by the Ottoman Turks leading it to lose its regional role. In the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829, Sozopol was conquered by the navy of the Russian Empire, and was turned into a temporary military base.

After Bulgaria’s National Liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Sozopol remained a major fishing center. As a result of intergovernmental agreements for exchange of population in the 1920s between the Tsardom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Greece, most of the ethnic Greeks still remaining in Sozopol moved to Greece, and were replaced by ethnic Bulgarians from the Bulgarian-populated regions of Northern Greece.

The modern era archaeological excavations of Sozopol were started in 1904 by French archaeologists who later took their finds to The Louvre Museum in Paris, including ancient vases from the beginning of the 2 nd millennium BC, the golden laurel wreath of an Ancient Thracian ruler, and a woman’s statue from the 3 rd century BC. Important archaeological excavations of Sozopol were carried out between 1946 and 1949 by Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Venedikov.

The most recent excavations of Sozopol’s Old Town started in 2010. In 2011-2012, Bulgarian archaeologists Tsonya Drazheva and Dimitar Nedev discovered a one-apse church, a basilica, and an Early Christian necropolis. Since 2012, the excavations of Sozopol have been carried out together with French archaeologists.

In 2010, during excavations of the ancient monastery on the St. Ivan (St. John) Island in the Black Sea, off the coast of Sozopol, Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov discovered a reliquary containing relics of St. John the Baptist. In 1974, the Bulgarian government set up the Old Sozopol Archaeological and Architectural Preserve.

A 2012 National Geographic documentary featuring the discovery of the St. John the Baptist relics in Bulgaria’s Sozopol can be seen here (in English and here in Bulgarian).


5th Century BC Ancient Greek Shrine Discovered in First Ever Excavations on Tiny St. Peter Island off Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast near Sozopol

The first ever archaeological excavations on St. Petar / St. Peter Island near Bulgaria’s Sozopol exposed what appears to have been an Ancient Greek shrine in the 5th century BC. Photo: Burgas Regional Museum of History

An Antiquity shrine from the 5 th century BC, the time of the Ancient Greek colonization of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, has been discovered during the first ever archaeological excavations on the tiny St. Petar / St. Peter Island off the coast of Sozopol, right next to the St. Ivan / St. John Island famous for the discovery of relics of St. John the Baptist.

The discovery has been announced by the Regional Museum of History in the Black Sea city of Burgas.

The St. Ivan (“St. John”) Island is located about 900 meters away from the closest point on the Bulgarian mainland, the Stolets Peninsula (Cape Stolets, or Scamnia) in the town of Sozopol. The St. Peter Island, which is really small, is roughly the same distance from the coast, and only 50 meters away from the St. Ivan Island.

The town of Sozopol itself is the modern-day successor of ancient Apollonia Pontica (Sozopolis), an Ancient Greek colony dating back to the 6 th century BC, on the western Black Sea coast which was inhabited by Ancient Thracians.

The St. Ivan Island is the largest from Bulgaria’s several small islands in the Black Sea. It is best known for the discovery of the relics of St. John the Baptist in 2010, with the excavations there yielding new finds such as the 2015 discovery of a tomb possibly containing the bones of the monastery founder, a Syrian monk who brought the relics.

The St. Peter Island next to it, however, had never been researched by archaeologists before the fall of 2020, the Burgas History Museum says.

It points out that the St. Peter Island near the St. Ivan Island and Sozopol has a maximum altitude of 9 meters above sea level. Its territory is only 15 decares (0.015 square kilometers or 3.7 acres).

The St. Petar / St. Peter Island (front) and the St. Ivan / St. John Island (back) near Sozopol on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. Photo: Burgas Regional Museum of History

An aerial view of the St. Petar / St. Peter Island off Sozopol’s coast. Photo: Burgas Regional Museum of History

“It is hypothesized that the St. Peter Island used to be part of the St. Ivan Island, and that it got separated from it due to the rising sea levels and the ensuing geological processes over the past two millennia. The St. Peter Island is not mentioned in historical sources predating the second half of the 19 th century,” the Burgas Museum states.

It also explains there have been presumptions that the St. Peter Island used to harbor an ancient church or monastery named after St. Peter.

It quotes Greek historian Lambros Kamberidis as hypothesizing that must have been the case considering that the St. Ivan Island had an early Christian monastery named after St Ivan, i.e. St. John the Baptist. The same was true of the St. Kiril (St. Cyricus), also known as the Sts. Quriaqos and Julietta Island), which is today a peninsula as it was connected with the mainland.

The late long-time director of the Burgas Regional Museum of History Tsonya Drazheva also mentioned the existence of chapel foundations on the St. Peter Island.

At the same time, there have been no data about accidental discoveries of archaeological artifacts from the St. Peter Island near Bulgaria’s Sozopol.

The only find to have been associated with the island has been a stone stock found south of it by divers who donated it to the National Museum of History in Sofia.

Thus, the first ever archaeological excavations on the St. Peter Island were carried out between September 28 and October 8, 2020, the Burgas Museum has announced.

They included drills on an area of 66 square meters, which resulted in the discovery of two structures in the eastern section of the surveyed area: two low mounds of soil brought from a different location, which were covered up with small stones.

Inside the mounds, the archaeologists have found fragments from pottery vessels such as amphorae, bowls, thick kitchen vessels, and ceramic vessels covered with red polish and black glaze.

A remarkable artifact found in the mounds is the bronze tip of a three-edged arrow.

Based on their findings, the archaeologists have concluded that the spot they have excavated on the St. Peter Island in the Black Sea off the coast of Bulgaria’s Sozopol used to harbor a coastal shrine from the 5 th century BC.

The shrine was used as part of a ritual for making small soil mounds covered with stones.

That was the period of the Ancient Greek colonization of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. No artifacts from other time periods have been found.

Bulgaria’s St. Ivan (St. John) Island off the coast of Sozopol (left) with the smaller St. Petar (St. Peter) Island to the right. Photo: Spiritia, Wikipedia

A Google Maps image showing the islands of St. Ivan and St. Petar, and the town of Sozopol with the St. Cyricus Island (today a peninsula), and the Stolets (Scamnia) Peninsula. Photo: Google Maps

The geological research carried out as part of the excavations has indicated that some 2,500 years ago, today’s St. Peter Island was part of the largest nearby St. Ivan Island, and that the two became separate islands at a much later stage.

The first ever archaeological excavations on the St. Peter Island near Sozopol have been led by Prof. Ivan Hristov, deputy director of the National Museum of History in Sofia, and Milen Nikolov, director of the Burgas Regional Museum of History. The geological research has been performed by Assist. Prof. Stefan Velev from Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. The digs have been funded by Bulgaria’s Ministry of Culture.

Learn more about the ancient and medieval history of Bulgaria’s Black Sea city of Sozopol in the Background Infonotes below!

Please consider donating to us to help us preserve and revive ArchaeologyinBulgaria.com to keep bringing you more and more exciting archaeology and history stories. Learn how to donate here:

The history of the resort town Sozopol (Apollonia Pontica, Sozopolis) on Bulgaria’s Southern Black Sea coast started during the Early Bronze Age, in the 5 th millennium BC, as testified by the discoveries of artifacts found in underwater archaeological research, such as dwellings, tools, pottery, and anchors. In the 2 nd -1 st millennium BC, the area was settled by the Ancient Thracian tribe Scyrmiades who were experienced miners trading with the entire Hellenic world.

An Ancient Greek colony was founded there in 620 BC by Greek colonists from Miletus on Anatolia’s Aegean coast. The colony was first called Anthea but was later renamed to Apollonia in favor of Ancient Greek god Apollo, a patron of the setters who founded the town. It became known as Apollonia Pontica (i.e. of the Black Sea). Since the Late Antiquity, the Black Sea town has also been called Sozopolis.

The Greek colony of Apollonia Pontica emerged as a major commercial and shipping center, especially after the 5 th century AD when it became allied with the Odrysian Kingdom, the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians. As of the end of the 6 th century BC, Apollonia Pontica started minting its own coins, with the anchor appearing on them as the symbol of the polis.

Apollonia became engaged in a legendary rivalry with another Ancient Greek colony, Mesembria, today’s Bulgarian resort town of Nessebar, which was founded north of the Bay of Burgas in the 6 th century BC by settlers from Megara, a Greek polis located in West Attica. According to some historical accounts, in order to counter Mesembria’s growth, Apollonia Pontica founded its own colony, Anchialos, today’s Pomorie (though other historical sources do not support this sequence of events), which is located right to the south of Mesembria.

Apollonia managed to preserve its independence during the military campaigns of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon under Philip II (r. 359-336 BC), and his son Alexander the Great (r. 336-323 BC). Apollonia, today’s Sozopol, is known to have had a large temple of Greek god Apollo (possibly located on the Sts. Quiricus and Julietta Island, also known as the St. Cyricus Island), with a 12-meter statue of Apollo created by Calamis, a 5 th century BC sculptor from Ancient Athens.

In 72 BC, Apollonia Pontica was conquered by Roman general Lucullus who took the Apollo statue to Rome and placed it on the Capitoline Hill. After the adoption of Christianity as the official religion in the Roman Empire, the statue was destroyed.

In the Late Antiquity, Apollonia, also called Sozopolis lost some of its regional center positions to Anchialos, and the nearby Roman colony Deultum (Colonia Flavia Pacis Deultensium). After the division of the Roman Empire into a Western Roman Empire and Eastern Roman Empire (today known as Byzantium) in 395 AD, Apollonia / Sozopolis became part of the latter. Its Late Antiquity fortress walls were built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Anasthasius (r. 491-518 AD), and the city became a major fortress on the Via Pontica road along the Black Sea coast protecting the European hinterland of Constantinople.

In 812 AD, Sozopol was first conquered for Bulgaria by Khan (or Kanas) Krum, ruler of the First Bulgarian Empire (632/680-1018 AD) in 803-814 AD. In the following centuries of medieval wars between the Bulgarian Empire and the Byzantine Empire, Sozopol changed hands numerous times. The last time it was conquered by the Second Bulgarian Empire (1185-1396 AD) was during the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Todor (Teodor) Svetoslav Terter (r. 1300-1322 AD).

However, in 1366 AD, during the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (r. 1331-1371 AD), Sozopol was conquered by Amadeus IV, Count of Savoy from 1343 to 1383 AD, who sold it to Byzantium. During the period of the invasion of the Ottoman Turks at the end of the 14 th century and the beginning of the 15 th century AD, Sozopol was one of the last free cities in Southeast Europe. It was conquered by the Ottomans in the spring of 1453 AD, two months before the conquest of Constantinople despite the help of naval forces from Venice and Genoa.

In the Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Sozopol was a major center of (Early) Christianity with a number of large monasteries such as the St. John the Baptist Monastery on St. Ivan Island off the Sozopol coast where in 2010 Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov made a major discovery by finding relics of St. John the Baptist the St. Apostles Monastery the St. Nikolay (St. Nikolaos or St. Nicholas) the Wonderworker Monastery the Sts. Quriaqos and Julietta Monastery on the St. Cyricus (St. Kirik) Island, the Holy Mother of God Monastery, the St. Anastasia Monastery.

During the Ottoman period Sozopol was often raided by Cossack pirates. In 1629, all Christian monasteries and churches in the city were burned down by the Ottoman Turks leading it to lose its regional role. In the Russian-Turkish War of 1828-1829, Sozopol was conquered by the navy of the Russian Empire, and was turned into a temporary military base.

After Bulgaria’s National Liberation from the Ottoman Empire in 1878, Sozopol remained a major fishing center. As a result of intergovernmental agreements for exchange of population in the 1920s between the Tsardom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Greece, most of the ethnic Greeks still remaining in Sozopol moved to Greece, and were replaced by ethnic Bulgarians from the Bulgarian-populated regions of Northern Greece.

The modern era archaeological excavations of Sozopol were started in 1904 by French archaeologists who later took their finds to The Louvre Museum in Paris, including ancient vases from the beginning of the 2 nd millennium BC, the golden laurel wreath of an Ancient Thracian ruler, and a woman’s statue from the 3 rd century BC. Important archaeological excavations of Sozopol were carried out between 1946 and 1949 by Bulgarian archaeologist Ivan Venedikov.

The most recent excavations of Sozopol’s Old Town started in 2010. In 2011-2012, Bulgarian archaeologists Tsonya Drazheva and Dimitar Nedev discovered a one-apse church, a basilica, and an Early Christian necropolis. Since 2012, the excavations of Sozopol have been carried out together with French archaeologists.

In 2010, during excavations of the ancient monastery on the St. Ivan (St. John) Island in the Black Sea, off the coast of Sozopol, Bulgarian archaeologist Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov discovered a reliquary containing relics of St. John the Baptist. In 1974, the Bulgarian government set up the Old Sozopol Archaeological and Architectural Preserve.

A 2012 National Geographic documentary featuring the discovery of the St. John the Baptist relics in Bulgaria’s Sozopol can be seen here (in English and here in Bulgarian).


Contents

The site of the Greek colony covers the area of fifty hectares and its fortifications form an isosceles triangle about a mile long and half a mile wide. [2] The region was also the site of several villages (modern Victorovka and Dneprovskoe) which may have been settled by Greeks. [2]

As for the town itself, the lower town (now largely submerged by the Bug river) was occupied chiefly by the dockyards and the houses of artisans. The upper town was a main residential quarter, composed of square blocks and centered on the agora. The town was ringed by a defensive stone wall with towers. [3] The upper town was also the site of the first settlement on the site in the archaic period. [2] There is evidence that the town itself was laid out over a grid plan from the 6th century – one of the first after the town of Smyrna. [2]

By the later period of settlement, the city also included an acropolis and, from the 6th century BCE, a religious sanctuary. [2] In the early 5th century, a temple to Apollo Delphinios was also built on the site. [2]

Archaic and Classical periods Edit

The Greek colony was highly important commercially and endured for a millennium. The first evidence of Greek settlement at the site comes from Berezan Island where pottery has been found dating from the late 7th century. [4] The name in Greek means "happy" or "rich". It is possible that it had been the site of an earlier native settlement and may even have been a peninsula rather than an island in antiquity. [4] It is now thought that the town of Berezan survived until the 5th century BCE when it was possibly absorbed into the growing Olbian settlement on the mainland. [4]

During the 5th century BCE, the colony was visited by Herodotus, who provides our best description of the city and its inhabitants from antiquity. [5]

It produced distinctive cast bronze money during the 5th century BCE in both the form of circular tokens with Gorgon heads and unique coins in the shape of leaping dolphins. [6] These are unusual considering the struck, round coins common in the Greek world. This form of money is said to have originated from sacrificial tokens used in the Temple of Apollo Delphinios. [ citation needed ]

M. L. West speculated that early Greek religion, especially the Orphic Mysteries, was heavily influenced by Central Asian shamanistic practices. A significant amount of Orphic graffiti unearthed in Olbia seems to testify that the colony was one major point of contact. [7]

Hellenistic and Roman periods Edit

After the town adopted a democratic constitution, [ when? ] its relations with Miletus were regulated by a treaty, which allowed both states to coordinate their operations against Alexander the Great's general Zopyrion in the 4th century BCE. By the end of the 3rd century, the town declined economically [note 1] and accepted the overlordship of King Skilurus of Scythia. It flourished under Mithridates Eupator but was sacked by the Getae under Burebista, a catastrophe which brought Olbia's economic prominence to an abrupt end.

Having lost two-thirds of its settled area, Olbia was restored by the Romans, albeit on a small scale and probably with a largely barbarian population. Dio of Prusa visited the town and described it in his Borysthenic Discourse (the town was often called Borysthenes, after the river).

The settlement, incorporated into the Roman province of Lower Moesia, was eventually abandoned in the 4th century CE, when it was burnt at least twice in the course of the Gothic Wars.

The site of Olbia, designated an archaeological reservation, is situated near the village of Parutino in the district of Ochakiv. Before 1902, the site was owned by the Counts Musin-Pushkins, who did not allow any excavations on their estate. Professional excavations were conducted under Boris Farmakovsky from 1901 to 1915 and from 1924 to 1926. As the site was never reoccupied, archaeological finds (particularly inscriptions and sculpture) proved rich. Today archaeologists are under pressure to explore the site, which is being eroded by the Black Sea. At 2016 started in Olbia excavations of the Polish Archaeological Mission "Olbia" of the National Museum in Warsaw headed by Alfred Twardecki. Many of the more notable finds from the period are visible in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Notable finds from the town include an archaic Greek house in a good state of preservation from the area of the later acropolis and a private letter (written on a lead tablet) dating to around 500 BCE, complaining about an attempt to claim a slave. [4]


Contents

The original name of the city is attested as Antheia (Ἄνθεια in Greek) [2] but was soon renamed to Apollonia (Ἀπολλωνία). At various times, Apollonia was known as Apollonia Pontica (Ἀπολλωνία ἡ Ποντική, that is, "Apollonia on the Black Sea", the ancient Pontus Euxinus) and Apollonia Magna ("Great Apollonia"). By the first century AD, the name Sozopolis (Σωζόπολις) began to appear in written records. During the Ottoman rule the town was known as Sizebolu, Sizeboli or Sizebolou.

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Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on Bulgarian Thrace's Black Sea coast. The first settlement on the site dates back to the Bronze Age. Undersea explorations in the region of the port reveal relics of dwellings, ceramic pottery, stone and bone tools from that era. Many anchors from the second and first millennium BC have been discovered in the town's bay, a proof of active shipping since ancient times.

The town was founded in the 7th century BC by Greek colonists from Miletus as Antheia (Ancient Greek: Ἄνθεια ). The town established itself as a trade and naval centre in the following centuries and became one of the largest and richest Greek colonies in the Black Sea region. Its trade influence in the Thracian territories was based on a treaty dating from the fifth century BC with the Odrysian kingdom, the most powerful Thracian state. Apollonia became a legendary trading rival of another Greek colony, Mesembria, today’s Nessebar.

The name was changed to Apollonia, [3] on account of a temple dedicated to Apollo in the town.

There were two temples of Apollo Iatros (Ancient Greek: Ἀπόλλων Ἰατρός ), meaning healer in Greek. One from the Late Archaic Greece and the other from the Early Classical Greece. [4]

It kept strong political and trade relations with the cities of Ancient Greece – Miletus, Athens, Corinth, Heraclea Pontica and the islands Rhodes, Chios, Lesbos, etc.

The city managed to keep its independence during the wars of Phillip II of Macedon (342-339 BC) and Alexander the Great (335 BC).

In 72 BC it was conquered and sacked by the Roman legions of Marcus Lucullus, who transported the statue of Apollo to Rome and placed it in the Capitol.

Apollonia Pontica started minting its own coins at the end of the 6th century BC, the anchor appearing on them as the symbol of the polis present on all coins minted since the sixth century BC, proof of the importance of its maritime trade. Coins from the fourth century BC bear the name Apollonia and the image of Apollo. The Roman imperial coins continue to the first half of the third century AD.

The Tabula Peutinger shows Apollonia but the "Periplus Ponti Euxini", 85, and the Notitiæ episcopatuum have only the later name Sozopolis.

In 1328 Cantacuzene (ed. Bonn, I, 326) speaks of it as a large and populous town. The islet on which it stood is now connected with the mainland by a narrow tongue of land. Ruled in turn by the Byzantine, Bulgarian and Ottoman Empires, Sozopol was assigned to the newly independent Principality of Bulgaria in the 19th century. At the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence (1821) prominent local personalities like Dimitrios Varis were arrested and executed by the Ottoman authorities due to participation in the preparations of the struggle. [5]

According to the Bulgarian jurist and politician Vasil Mitakov (1881-1945), the town was almost entirely ethnically Greek in the first decade of the 20th century, with the exception of a few dozen Bulgarians in the whole city who were either current or retired officials. [6] Almost all of its Greek population was exchanged with Bulgarians from Eastern Thrace in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars. In 2011 the remainings of an ancient Greek settlement, part of Apollonia, were excavated in the small island of St. Kirik (Saint Cerycus) off Sozopolis. [7]

Since 1984 Sozopol hosts the Apollonia art festivities every September, which include theatre shows, exhibitions, movies, musical and dance performances, book presentations and other cultural events. [5]

Climate data for Sozopol (2004-2017)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 8.2
(46.8)
10.2
(50.4)
12.5
(54.5)
17.2
(63.0)
23.5
(74.3)
27.1
(80.8)
29.8
(85.6)
29.7
(85.5)
26.1
(79.0)
21.5
(70.7)
15.5
(59.9)
10.2
(50.4)
19.5
(67.1)
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.7
(36.9)
4.8
(40.6)
8.5
(47.3)
13.5
(56.3)
19.2
(66.6)
23.1
(73.6)
26.3
(79.3)
25.8
(78.4)
21.7
(71.1)
17.2
(63.0)
11.1
(52.0)
6.5
(43.7)
15.5
(59.9)
Average low °C (°F) 1.2
(34.2)
2.3
(36.1)
5.7
(42.3)
9.2
(48.6)
14.2
(57.6)
18.1
(64.6)
21.5
(70.7)
21.5
(70.7)
17.1
(62.8)
13.6
(56.5)
7.3
(45.1)
2.8
(37.0)
12.1
(53.8)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 48
(1.9)
43
(1.7)
39
(1.5)
47
(1.9)
47
(1.9)
45
(1.8)
36
(1.4)
28
(1.1)
45
(1.8)
52
(2.0)
73
(2.9)
62
(2.4)
565
(22.2)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm) 11.5 8.3 6.6 4.1 3.7 4.2 2.6 2.8 4.5 7.2 5.0 10.2 70.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 95 118 171 226 261 302 324 295 245 181 107 76 2,401
Source: weatherbase.com [ citation needed ]

Colossal statue of Apollo Edit

The city erected, in 5th century BC, a colossal statue of the god Apollo which was 13 m (43 ft) tall. It was created by the sculptor Calamis. In 72 BC, the Romans under Marcus Lucullus captured the city and moved the sculpture to Rome on the Capitolium. [8] [9] Pliny the Elder wrote that the statue cost 500 talents. [10] It was lost during the Early Christian period.

Archaeology Edit

Recent excavations have revealed parts of the ancient city including: [11]

  • A temple complex (late 6th - early 5th century BC) presumably belonging to the famous temple of Apollo
  • An oval altar and a temple from the Hellenistic period (4th century BC)
  • A tholos
  • A copper foundry

In addition, archaeologists discovered a Greek bucranium amulet from the 5th century BC. [12] A shrine of goddesses Demeter and Persephone from the 6th century BC. [13]

Many objects from antiquity, included imported luxury ceramics, red-figure pottery, sgraffito pottery, pottery lamps, loom weights, spindle parts, coins, amphora seals, arrow coins, ceramic game pieces, adornments. One of the most impressive finds was an Attica red-figure pottery krater, depicting the myth about Oedipus and the Sphinx. The krater is dated to the second quarter of the 5th century BC. Excavation teams also discovered, a ceramic askos dated back to the second half of the 6th century BC, and was “made in the tradition of grey monochrome Aeolian pottery", a 6th century BC home and other antiquity buildings, pottery and coins from both the antiquity period and the Middle Ages. Furthermore, have also identified the ruins of a medieval Christian chapel and have discovered several graves from a medieval necropolis that was used in two time periods – in the 11th century AD and then again in the 13th – 14th century AD. In a grave from the 11th century, the researchers have found two small crosses – one made of bronze and another one made of bone. They have also discovered three pits hewn into the rocks from the Classical Period of Ancient Greece containing materials from the 5th – 4th century BC. [14]

Later, they discovered an ancient metallurgical plant from the 6th century BC located at an antiquity copper mine. While the ancient copper mining near Sozopol has been well researched, for the first time archaeologists have discovered ceramic kilns for melting the copper ore right on the edge of the mine in what resembles an Antiquity metallurgy facility. [15]

In 2021, archaeologists discovered a terracotta relief fragment, depicting marching Greek hoplites. The relief is a piece of a larger depiction, other parts of which were discovered in 2018 and 2019. [16]

Ecclesiastical history Edit

Sozopol was Christianized early. Bishops are recorded as resident there from at least 431. At least eight bishops are known: [17] Athanasius (431), Peter (680), Euthymius (787) and Ignatius (869) Theodosius (1357), Joannicius, who became Patriarch of Constantinople (1524), Philotheus (1564) and Joasaph (1721).

From being suffragan to the archbishopric of Adrianople, it became in the 14th century a metropolitan see without suffragan sees it perhaps temporarily disappeared with the Turkish conquest, but reappeared later in 1808 the Greek Orthodox Church united it to the see of Agathopolis. The titular resided at Agathopolis.

Eubel (Hierarchia catholica medii ævi, I, 194) mentions four Latin bishops of the 14th century.

The bishopric is included in the Catholic Church's list of titular sees as Sozopolis in Haemimonto and as a suffragan of Hadrianopolis in Haemimonto.

Art flourished in the Christian era. The ancient icons and magnificent woodcarving in the iconostases are a remarkable accomplishment of the craftsmanship of these times. The architecture of the houses in the old town from the Renaissance period makes it a unique place to visit today.

The vampire of Sozopol Edit

During archaeological excavations in 2012 the remains of a skeleton pierced with an iron bar in the heart were found. It is believed that those are the remains of the local nobleman Krivich (or Krivitsa), ruler of the fortress of Sozopol (castrofilax). Believed to be a very cruel person, the locals made sure that he would not come back to haunt the city after his death by piercing him with an iron bar in the chest. There are more than 100 medieval funerals similar to that of Krivitsa found all over Bulgaria. The remains were pierced with either an iron or a wooden bar through the chest to make sure that the dead will not rise from the grave as a vampire.


Trivia

General

  • The Man in Black was the thirty-third and last character to ever have a flashback.
  • The Man in Black was the eighteenth main character to die.
  • The Man in Black never once left the Island during the course of his roughly 2,000-year life.
    • He is the only main character to never be off The Island - the opposite of Penny.
    • It is unknown if the vision of Christian Shephard that Michael saw aboard the Kahana freighter was actually The Man in Black. If it was, then he'd at least be capable of traveling some distance out to sea.
    • In its human forms, the Man in Black has met Locke, Sawyer, Sun, Michael, Eko, Ben, Frank, Ilana, Richard, Claire, Jin, Sayid, Kate, Desmond, Jack, Hurley, Rose, and Bernard.
    • Richard is the only main character confirmed to have seen him in his normal human form (as portrayed by Titus Welliver).
    • He seems to know the existence of Widmore's daughter, Penny, as he has threatened to kill her once he leaves the Island. took notice of a picture that a five-year-old Locke drew of a man being attacked by a cloud of whirling black smoke. (" Cabin Fever ") is also the common name for dog-faced water snakes, a genus of water snakes in the Colubridae family.
    • Cerberus in the Greek Mythology was a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Robert claimed the monster wasn't a monster at all, but a security system charged with guarding the Temple.
    • In the May 26, 2006 Official Lost Podcast, the producers said, "There's a good chance that you guys saw the Monster this year Season 2, but just didn't realize you were looking at the Monster." Gregg Nationslater stated that the appearance of the Monster was after the episode " The 23rd Psalm " and likely in the second half of the season. Presumably, they were referring to his appearances as Yemi.
    • When the entity appeared in human form, his shirt and Jacob's shirt are contrasted. Jacob wears a light colored shirt, while his nemesis wears a dark one. (Dark and Light)
    • In November 2009, executive producer Damon Lindelof stated that, regarding the scene in " Pilot, Part 2 " where Locke explains to Walt the premise of backgammon using the concept of light and dark, he and fellow co-creator JJ Abrams had planned for those two sides to eventually be personified by two individuals (in reference to Jacob and the Man in Black). [1]
    • The casting call described the entity's 1800's appearance as "Samuel. Any ethnicity, 40s-60s. A corporate raider looking to take over his next company. Powerful, devious and obtuse. He has a cunning intellect and a strong sense of danger. May lead to recurring. Looking for someone very interesting and very special for this role. "Β] describes the Man in Black to Sayid first as "an angry man" who is influencing Claire, then "evil incarnate."
    • The Man in Black is shown to be sadistic as shown in the brutality of its attacks as the Monster, the apparent amusement it expressed at John Locke's confusion about his own murder, and how it threatened to kill Rose and Bernard if Desmond didn't come with him, commenting that he would "make it hurt".
    • Since a DVD commentary reveals the monster sound effect to be an NYC taxi cab printer, Rose's familiarity with the sound may be an in-joke. In (" Pilot, Part 1 ") , the Losties discuss the sound on the beach the morning after first hearing the Smoke Monster in the jungle. Rose is heard saying "The noise it made sounded very familiar." Shannon is heard asking "Where are you from?" to which Rose replies "The Bronx."
    • In what appeared to have been a red herring, on June 14, 2006, DJ Dan fielded a call on his podcast, which was part of the ARG The Lost Experience, from a scientist worrying about nanotechnology (miniature machines that can carry out tasks). The caller suggested that with an electromagnetic field, the machines could work together to form a "storm cloud" that could actually think. This clearly was a reference to the Monster, but the theory had already been discredited by the producers in the July 31, 2006 podcast, and again in the first DJ Dan live broadcast.
    • The Man in Black is one of 22 characters to have their name appear in a soundtrack title, although some of his nicknames are used instead of a name, e.g. Monster and Smokey.
    • According to the Across the Sea audio commentary, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse thought it would be interesting if the Man in Black didn't have a name at all.
    • The Man in Black along with Sun, Christian, Eko, Libby and Ilana are only main characters who doesn't have any line in their first episode.
    • Last words: "You're too late"
    • Witnesses of death: Jack, Kate

    Cultural references

    • Forbidden Planet is a classic sci-fi film based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and was mentioned by writer David Fury when describing the Monster. Its storyline features many similar themes to Lost: a mysterious location, geographic isolation, immense power sources, ancient civilizations, hidden underground facilities, an invisible monster, a stranded crew of explorers, lost scientific expeditions, and deadly psychic powers. The howling noise frequently made by the smoke monster in 'Lost' is strikingly similar to noises made by the monster from 'Forbidden Planet'.
      • The Tempest is a play written by William Shakespeare, that tells the story of the sorcerer Prospero and his daughter Miranda, who are stranded on a mysterious desert island that has mystical properties. Prospero raises a storm, or tempest, which causes a passing ship containing his enemies to run aground. Using magic, spirits and a man-beast creature named Caliban, he separates and manipulates the survivors of the wreck for his own purposes. The play ends with Prospero restored to his former glory. The Tempest is also the name of a DHARMA Initiativestation that stores a deadly toxic gas.

      Explanations

        and Paulo both questioned whether the Monster was a dinosaur. (Lost is filmed on many of the same locations used by the Jurassic Park series.) also said the Monster could be just a "pissed off giraffe." This is an ongoing inside-joke between the producers and writers, as noted in the Season 1 DVD commentary. (" Numbers ")
    • There is considerable discussion about the entity's relation to judgment of the characters, especially with regards to Eko's two encounters. In the November 6, 2006 Official Lost Podcast, the producers said:
    • Carlton Cuse: Well then, he might be a manifestation that the Island has generated. Perhaps an incarnation of the Monster?

      Damon Lindelof: That's interesting. I would assume that that's sort of a theory that people are tossing around. Um… there's several manifestations in that episode. All of them seem to have come from Eko's memory. So, could one assume that when they last faced off, that all those flashes that happened in the Monster cloud, that it was sort of "downloading information" that it might want to use at a future date?

      Metaphorically, the Monster was just the great unknown threat, the imminent danger around the corner that potentially haunts us all… Some thought of it as a monster of the id, much like in Forbidden Planet-- that maybe it appeared differently to everyone who saw it. The most tangible thought, as explained later by Rousseau, was that it functioned as a security system set up by the Island’s creators/early residents. For Locke, clearly, the Monster was the "soul" of the Island that was responsible for his "miracle." (LP Interview:David Fury)

      Sound effects

      In the form of the black smoke monster, the entity releases several distinct noises.

      • The howling sound is usually if not always an A-flat 4. The frequency of this pitch is 415.3 hertz exactly one semitone flat of concert pitch A, or A-440 the note that most musicians use to tune a musical instrument.
      • In the voice-over commentary for " The 23rd Psalm " on the Season 2 DVD, producerBryan Burk confirmed that one of the Monster's sound effects is the receipt printer from a NYC taxi cab. You can hear the sound at this link
        • This was reaffirmed in the May 21, 2007 Official Lost Podcast, but it was clarified that the mythology of the Monster is unrelated to the cabs and was just a matter of sound effects. This sound effect was heard in the following scenes:
        • When Locke punched some numbers into a counting machine, right before the first commercial (" Walkabout ")
        • As the Monster flew by Kate and Jack (" Exodus, Part 2 ")
        • Before Nikki gets bitten by the Medusa spider, as was confirmed on the Season 3 DVD commentary for that episode (" Exposé ")

        Production notes

        • Some viewers believed that the The Twins (Others) could be amongst the entity's manifestations, but this was officially debunked in an interview with Damon Lindelof. He said they hired the twin stunt men to be guys on the Others' boat, but they were never meant to become important to the storyline. Damon Lindelof said, "We can tell you, sitting here now that twins have nothing to do whatsoever with the mythology of the show." (" Exodus, Part 2 ")
        • In the production building on the Disney lot where the Lost production has been housed, Cerberus is the name of the safety and fire protection system. The three-headed dog logo can be found all over the grounds.
        • According to Kristin Dos Santos of E! Online (but unconfirmed by official sources), the name "Samuel" was used in scripts to refer to the Man in Black, but the writers ultimately decided not to use the name in dialogue, feeling that leaving the character unnamed was more interesting.[3]
        • In a parody video shown at Comic-Con 2011 and at abc.com, it is "confirmed" that his name is Barry.

        Additional casting

          played the role of the young Man in Black (age 13) in " Across the Sea " The casting call described him as "[MATT], Caucasian, dark hair, 12-14, defiant and rebellious. Wise and smart but fights with other boys. He’s given a big responsibility that makes him feel important. NICE CO-STAR."Δ]

        Producer's favorite fan theory

        In February 2007, Damon Lindelof opened a question on Yahoo! Answers about the nature of the Monster. The answer he and Carlton Cuse liked the best was given by user ar233. Out of over 8000 submitted answers, the winner was:

        I think the Monster was originally a highly advanced security system designed to separate participants in the experimental DHARMA hatches. I think it was an effect that was designed to frighten people (smoke, noise) if they strayed too far from their experiment location. (A bit Wizard of Oz-like.) However, the electromagnetic force has mutated it—in the same sense as Desmond experienced time travel and can now see the future after exposure—and made it malevolent and able to physically grab things in its force (Eko, the pilot, Locke). So in theory it may be able to be deactivated, if they can find the control room for it (which would be another hatch somewhere yet undetected).

        The producers' explanation as to why they picked that answer was:

        We were amazed at the imagination and prodigious creativity applied to answering the question, what is the Monster? We have chosen our favorite answer. Not that's it's the right answer. Sorry but we can't really give away the ultimate secrets of the Monster quite yet. The answer we selected might be somewhat right, totally right, or completely off-base. But we liked it and found it very cool and intriguing. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write in. We loved reading your thoughts, and thanks for watching! -Carlton and Damon

        They later stated they were impressed by how close some of the responses came.



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