Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti
The Paleontological Collection of Mihail Halvadzhiev

Mihail Halvadzhiev was born in September 13th, 1914, in the village of Samovodene, Veliko Tarnovo region, in a family that dealt with agriculture. His childhood underwent through great poverty in the period of the First World War. This was the reason for him to receive his primary and junior high education in his birth village. He graduated the Boys’ High School in Veliko Tarnovo with excellent marks in 1935. In March 1936 he was enrolled as a soldier in the School for Reserve Officers in Sofia. In the next year he graduated the school and was assigned for deputy-platoon commander of the Fifth Artillery Regiment in Shumen. In October 1937 he transferred to the reserve and is immediately admitted to the University of Sofia, the Faculty of Natural History. After graduating, he was mobilized in 1941 as an officer. In 1943 he entered the 3rd Boys’ High School in Sofia as a teacher-trainee. In 1944 he was mobilized in Nis (Yugoslavia), and in April the same year he was sent to the Turkish border. Wherever he was sent, Halvadzhiev never missed an opportunity to observe the nature and to learn from it. After demobilization in 1944 he was assigned as a teacher in the Boys’ High School in Rousse. In 1944-1949 he was deputy-director of the Boys’ High School. In 1952-1954 he was the director of the Evening School. In 1954 the Department of Natural History at the People’s Museum in Rousse was established and Mihail Halvadzhiev became its first curator. When visiting the Boys’ High School he discovered the herbarium of Kovachev, as well as other materials, collected by him and he brought them to the museum.The teeth and bones of mastodons and mammoths, collected by Kovachev, inspired him to continue his work and gave him the desire for scientific research. His stubborn work and enthusiasm allowed him to create a rich paleontological collection of fossil mammals. Except for that, he also took participation in the restoration of the Cherven castle. He also dealt with cave activities, and as a result he published a brochure for the Orlova Chuka cave. From 1959 to 1977 he was a secretary of the Natural History Society – section Rousse. He also worked as a director of the 5th Secondary School, inspector in Biology and Chemistry at the Regional Department of Education, and director of the Professional Secondary School for Grain Storing and Production “ Asen Zlatarov” in Rousse, where he retired. To be a paleontologist is not easy at all. Taking out a fossil from the earth and its accurate determination is only the initial stage of the paleontologist’s work. The most interesting side of paleontology is the recreation of ecosystems, which have disappeared long ago, understanding the processes, which have taken place in the past, of evolution and the migrations of different groups of animals and the reasons for this, the relations between the changes in environment and the changes in the animal world. Each find can hypothetically cause settled concepts to fall apart and this is not a rare case. As a general rule the doctrines in science are a bad idea, and in paleontology they are absurd – only due to the essence of our work (quote from an article for Mihail Halvadzhiev) The funds of the “Nature” Department of the Rousse Regional Museum of History nowadays keeps over 7000 examples from the sections – vertebrate, invertebrate, botany, paleontology and geology, as well as over 5000 pieces of diapositives, negatives, photos and over 8000 pieces of books and magazines. Undisputedly, the collection of fossils has the greatest scientific value. Mihail Halvadzhiev devoted his scientific career in collecting and studying the remains of fossil mammals. In 1950-1965due to the increased construction works and the search for new sand quarries, in many places of the Rousse region became possible the discovery of fossil mammals, some of which appeared to be unknown to the European literature. The remains of 18 types of fossil mammals have been discovered in the region of Rousse so far. These are fossil kinds, found in the sediments of the Pliocene and the Pleistocene. The paleontological materials were collected 12 years in parallel to the opening of sand quarries. This allows the determination of the precise location of the fauna’s origin and the exact stratification of the Pliocene and Pleistocene in the region of Rousse. In terms of their preservation stage some of them are unique for the country. The paleontological material is kept as a collection at the “Nature” Department of the Rousse Regional Museum of History. As a result of the collected materials, Mihail Halvadzhiev published several works: “Several new finds of the Dicerorhinus schleiermacheri, Kaup. From the village of Bosilkovtsi”, “A find of Anacus arvernensis, Croizet et Jobert 1828 in the village of Trastenik” published in the Proceedings of the People’s Museum of Rousse, book 4/1970 (with photo material);“A find of Zygolop h odon borsoni (Hays ) from the village of Bosilkovtsi, Rousse region” published in the Year-book of the Museums in Northern Bulgaria, book 12/1986; “Tertiary mammal fauna in Rousse region”, in Proceedings of the Rousse People’s Museum, book 2/1966. The priceless fossil collection gave the opportunity for organizing an exhibition , called “The geological past of our region” with the paleontological collection of Mihail Halvadzhiev in 1975.It was created in occasion of the 60th anniversary of his birth and 3.2 years of his teacher’s, scientific and collecting works. On April 17th, 2003 the Rousse Regional Museum of History opened the exhibition “Mammals in 6 000 000 years”, which includes 68 exponents from the collection of Halvadzhiev, which have been conserved in the Asenovgrad Paleontological Museum. The exhibition presents trunk mammals of three families which have inhabited our lands in the last few million years – mastodons, mammoths, rhinoceroses. In original exhibition furniture were presented jaws, teeth, tusks, thigh and other bones from the skeleton of mastodons, mammoths and the prehistoric rhinoceros. An original deposit of fossils has been presented through a diorama.
The museum possesses one of the most complete collections of fossil trunk mammals. In Bulgaria there are known at least 14 kinds of trunk mammals, and the “Nature” Department of the Rousse Regional Museum of History keeps the remains of 9 of these kinds. The most precious is the lower jaw (mandible) of Mammuthus rumanus, which is the only one in the world in terms of the state of its preservation. Two thirds of the remains of an Elephas antiquus in our country are kept in the funds of the “Nature” Department.