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Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria

An early Byzantine crypt, among the largest in the Balkans, has been discovered by archaeologists near the Zaldapa Fortress close to the village of Krushari in Bulgaria’s Dobrich municipality, it was announced on September 4 2015.

Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria
Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria
The unearthing and the opening of the newly discovered crypt in the Early Christian
 Bishop’s Basilica in the ancient city of Zaldapa in Krushari Municipality, 
Dobrich District, Northeast Bulgaria [Credit: Krushari Municipality]
The crypt was found at the site of a bishop’s basilica discovered in the 2014 archaeological season.

Archaeologists said that the dimensions of the burial site were not only among the largest of such finds in Bulgaria but also across the whole Balkan peninsula. It is nearly four metres long, 2.5 metres wide and was 2.5 metres high.

The entrance was walled with stone slabs, which appeared to have been penetrated probably around the 10th century.

Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria
A large pillar capital is one of the numerous fragments removed from the 
 inside of the newly found Early Christian tomb in Zaldapa 
[Credit: Krushari Municipality]
Estimated to date from the fifth century, it appears to have been the last resting place of at least one martyr. Practice was for basilicas to be built atop the burial places of martyrs.

The director of the Regional Historical Museum in Dobrich, Kostadin Kostadinov, described the scale of the crypt as “more than impressive”.

“We still do not know exactly what is in it, because we have not finished the excavation,” Kostadinov told public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television. Material was being removed, and the archaeological team hoped to find an inscription about who was buried there.

Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria
Early Byzantine crypt found in NE Bulgaria
Marble and ceramic fragments from both the Late Antiquity and the time of the
 First Bulgarian Empire in the Middle Ages have been removed from inside 
the newly found Early Christian crypt in the Late Roman and Early Byzantine
 Fortress Zaldapa [Credit: Krushari Municipality]
Zaldapa was the largest late Roman and Byzantine fortified town in the interior of Dobrudzha. The fortress is estimated to have been built in the late fourth century CE. The fortified town, believed to have been densely population, covered an area of about 35 hectares.

Estimated to have been founded by Thracians in about the eighth century BCE, the settlement grew larger after the Roman expansion in Thrace. For a short period of time it was the seat of an episcopate and it was the centre of the biggest rebellion against Emperor Justinian I the Great.

Source: The Sofia Globe [September 04, 2015]

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