Rousse Regional Museum of History
"All that I experienced afterwards had already been in Roustchouk". Elias Canetti
Rescue excavations in the territory of the Roman castle Sexaginta Prista in Rousse in 2009


Varbin Varbanov, Deyan Dragoev

The archaeological excavations took place between 09/01/2009 - 10/23/2009 (with some interruptions) and were funded by the Rousse Regional Museum of History. The excavations were concentrated at the “sanctuary of the flags” at the Principia of Sexaginta Prista, where a 4th century brick floor was preserved as well as unviolated structures from earlier periods. Due to limited resources, about 25 square meters were fully explored (Figure 1 and Photo 1).

chronological levels


           A total amount of 3391 pottery fragments were found for season 2009, 1927 of which are related to the Thracian period, 1455 to the Roman (and the Late Roman), three to the Medieval period (10th-11th c.) and six – to the Late Ottoman period (the 19th century). 25 coins from the 1st-4th century period were also found: one effaced as from the 1st century AD, six from the first half of the 3rd century, 13 from the last quarter of the 3rd century, four from the first half of the 4th century and an undetermined one. 
           Thracian period
          In 2009, 10 pits were studied (marked with numbers from 75 to 82 A) in squares I' 2, I' 3, II’ 2 and II' 3. Their depth (from the presumed Thracian walking level) is from -1.30/-1.50 m to -3.28 m from the benchmark and their diameters at the loess level are from 0.90 m to 1.70 m. Pit 78 has an interesting form, the bottom of which is at -2.79 m from the benchmark, with a diameter of 1.50 m at the loess. Another pit is dug into it, with a diameter of about 0.70 m which extends down into the loess and at its bottom the diameter is 1.44 m. In pit 76, at different levels in the ash layer, the bottom of a pot and a pot without the mouth edge were found.
No other structures than pits were found in the unviolated Thracian layer of the researched area. Their filling is similar to that of the studied pits during the previous seasons. 30 flints were found, 39 limestones, 103 covering fragments, 28 fragments of a pithos and 1927 ceramic fragments. 1112 fragments of it were found in pits dug into the loess, 555 - in the unviolated Thracian level above the loess and 125 - in the Roman levels. The proportion of ceramics, produced by hand and the one, produced by potter’s wheel is slightly higher than 2:1.
The pottery and the findings are dated between the 2nd century BC / 1st century AD. Important for the dating of the whole complex is a discovered fibula, derived from the type Aucissa, dated from 20 to 60/80 in the 1st century AD. Other dating objects are an anepigraphic seal and fragments of Megarian cup imitations with relief. Of interest is also the discovery of graphitic pottery fragments.
           Roman and Late Roman period
After dismantling the preserved brick floor of the „sanctuary of the flags“ at the Principia of the Sexaginta Prista castle, it was found that it was violated by a pit, labeled as 1. Only unusual Late Antiquity pottery fragments were found in its filling and therefore it can only be concluded that the pit was dug after the beginning of the 5th century, when the Principia suspended its functions. Two more pits (marked with numbers 2 and 3) were registered in the remaining area, sealed by the floor level in the „sanctuary of the flags“. They are dated by the coins and findings, found in them. Eight coins were found in pit 2, the last one being by Diocletian, 292 emission. Three coins were found in pit 3, the last of which being by Maximianus Herculius, 293 emission. The pit partially destroyes another Roman pit, labeled as 4 . By the pottery, found in it, the pit can be dated broadly as a 3rd century one.
Besides the Roman pits, a few spots with a concentration of bricked clay, ash, coals, stones and bones were cleaned in the studied area. In their context a fragment of a marble votive tablet and nine coins were found, the last one being by Maximianus Herculius, 285-286 emission. On level -1.00 m from the benchmark, in square II' 2/I' 2, a quadrangular base for a column, connected to the Temple of Apollo, was cleaned in situ.Important for the chronology of the Principia are the three 4th century coins, found between the brick and mortar floor level and one, found in the mortar level. They allow us to date the construction of the Principia (and the Late Roman castle of Sexaginta Prista in general) at the time of Constantine the Great. What reached us as a brick floor level, however, was built during a reconstruction, done by Emperor Valens in the period between his two Gothic Wars.
           Late Ottoman period
A digging into at square II' 2 is related to this period, which has an area of less than two square meters and reaches a level of -0.70 m from benchmark. The found objects are typical for the period of the 19th century. Among them three fragments from the 10th-11th c. were found.