Bozhidar Dimitrov, Director of the National Museum of History, comments on the latest archaeological discovery in Bulgaria - an underwater settlement during excavations at Akin Cape in an interview with FOCUS News Agency
FOCUS: Mr Dimitrov, what are the latest archaeological discoveries during the excavations at Cape Akin close to the coastal town of Chernomorets?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: During the excavations under the Via Pontica government programme at Cape Akin, one of the three capes of the town of Chernomorets, apart from the massive fortified wall with two battle towers at the peninsula itself, archaeologist Dr Ivan Hristov [Associate Professor Dr Ivan Hristov, Deputy Director of the National Museum of History] also discovered a continuation of the fortified wall into the sea. The continuation of the wall surrounds a big mud-bank Southwest of the cape. The fortified wall is preserved to some big height and the team has seen the outlines of a big battle tower of five meters height and three and a half meters width.
The archaeologists have already ascertained that this is the early Byzantine fortress Krimna, which was situated there. Due to some circumstances, since the beginning of the WWI until a couple of years ago the fortress was within the area of a military unit and it was impossible for the archaeologists to study it.
The part of the fortress on dry land covers nearly 40 decares. The fortified wall is bigger even than the one in Sozopol – of around 2.6 metres width. The coins found by the archaeologists prove that the wall was built by Anastasius I in around 513, then reinforced by Justinian I over the next decades and probably the settlement was destroyed during the big Avarian invasion in 583-586.
The discovery of an underwater residential quarter is not a surprise.
It is known that since V century before the common era until nowadays, in the frames of the so-called New Black Sea transgression, the sea has been increasing its level by 1.4 millimetres to 4 millimetres annually.
There have been around 1,500 years since the construction of the fortress until today, which means that the level of the water in this area has increased by 6 metres.
There are residential quarters of the towns of Nesebar and Sozopol, which are under the sea, too, but unfortunately recently they have been covered for levees.
The discovery of this underwater quarter in one of the coastal towns is so far the sole quarter discovered along the Black Sea coast and it may turn into a wonderful site for cultural and historical tourism under the Via Pontica programme.
FOCUS: How deep into the sea is this part of a settlement found?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: It starts from the shore and goes about hundred meters into the sea. The sunken part is well-seen, when looked from the higher part of the coast.
We see some shoal, covered with brown seaweed, which according to me covers an area of around 20 decares. It has a triangle form. The fortified wall goes around the edge of this sunken underwater part.
FOCUS: How can this finding be displayed for the public and become a cultural-historical tourism site?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: There are several variants. It could be restored and showed above the water, so as to be seen from the shore. It could be seen underwater, too, using diving equipment. The diving tourism becomes more and more popular in the Black Sea.
FOCUS: How old do you think this part of a settlement – a residential quarter, is?
Bozhidar Dimitrov: This quarter is part of the town Krimna, called this way in the late anqiquity and in the Middle Ages.
It is a great mystery to us – we wonder whether this is the place that sheltered the prominent in many documents monastery Saint Nicolas Protector of the Poor.
According to the local data, one of the Byzantine patriarchs – Nifon, was buried in this monastery. Let’s hope that the monastery was situated in this fortress and probably this is true but we have not reached the inner part of the fortress yet.