The Watch

Novae Archaeological Site

Svishtov, Bulgaria

2008 World Monuments Watch

Founded as a Roman military settlement in the mid-first century A.D., the ancient outpost of Novae in northern Bulgaria—then part of the Roman province of Moesia—has been under excavation by Bulgarian and Polish teams since the 1960s. Among the preserved remains are what are thought to be a military hospital, soldiers' houses and headquarters, a peristyle building, and other religious and secular structures. Vestiges of the first Roman camp built on the site between A.D. 45 and 69 include clay and wood battlements, towers, and dwellings. From A.D. 69 until the fifth century, the fortifications were expanded to embrace a growing town founded by an Italic legion there, which built monumental defensive walls and towers, residential and religious buildings, and workshops. Novae flourished through the late antique period as a locus of religious, military, and civic activity. Numerous attacks on the town over the years necessitated several restoration campaigns. The prominence of Novae into the early Byzantine period is evident in the range of preserved buildings, as well as the numerous artifacts found on site—including bronze statues, glass vessels, ceramics, and coins, as well as wall paintings. The site is endangered by a variety of natural threats: vegetation, extreme heat, erosion, ground instability, and flooding. All of these factors have contributed to the gradual deterioration of the clay, wood, brick, and stone structures. Although archaeologists have carried out various emergency measures to protect the site, these are no longer sufficient. With a dearth of funding and proper management, no actions are being taken to improve the situation. Last update: 2008

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