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Statue head of Roman emperor unearthed in northern Bulgaria

The head of a statue which dates back to the third century AD and believed to be of Roman Emperor Aurelian has been discovered by archaeologists in Ulpia Oescus, which was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire in what is today Bulgaria.

Statue head of Roman emperor unearthed in northern Bulgaria
The statue head from the 3rd century AD believed to depict Roman Emperor Aurelian shortly after its discovery
[Credit: Associate Prof. Dr. Gergana Kabakchieva]
“This is an extremely valuable find from the Roman city of Ulpia Oescus," lead archaeologist Assoc. Prof. Gergana Kabakchieva from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia has told local news sources.

“The hairstyle, the rendering of the chin, the way the eyes are depicted all speak of the fact that this statue is from the third century AD, the period of the so called barracks emperors, or soldier emperors in the Roman Empire (235 – 284 AD)," Kabakchieva explained.

Statue head of Roman emperor unearthed in northern Bulgaria
The newly discovered colonnade demonstrates that the main residence and main building of Ulpia Oescus
in the Late Antiquity was much larger than previously thought [Credit: Archaeology in Bulgaria]
“After the destruction of Oescus and the abandonment of this building [presently under excavation] somebody attempted to re-use this statue for stone construction. As a result, the ears were damaged. Yet, the head apparently appeared to be too bumpy, didn’t fit with the rest of the building blocks, and was left in this pit [where we found it]," Kabakchieva elaborates.

The archaeological team has also discovered a marble colonnade and additional structures indicating that the central residence, the main building of Ulpia Oescus, was much larger than expected.

The ruins of Ulpia Oescus (today the Ulpia Oescus Archaeological Preserve) are located near the town of Gigen, Gulyantsi Municipality, Pleven District, in Northern Bulgaria.

Source: Archaeology in Bulgaria [August 25, 2018]


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