The Fate of a Roman Road Station after Antiquity

The Balkan Heritage Foundation and the Department of Archaeology at New Bulgarian University organized the last for 2021 BEMA Online Seminar  in Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology on Saturday, December 04, 2021. Guest lecturer  Alexander Manev – Ph.D. Candidate in Classical Archaeology at National Institute of Archaeology and Museum (NAIM-BAS, Sofia, Bulgaria) and Balkan Heritage Field School instructor presented the results from the excavations of the Roman Road Station Bona Mansio in his talk titled ” The Fate of a Roman Road station after Antiquity”.

Abstract:

Bona Mansio was one of the road stations on the main arterial route through the Balkan peninsula, the Via Diagonalis, during the Roman and medieval periods. It was of the type called ‘Mansio’, where official travelers could take lodgings overnight. Its location in the western part of Thrace, in the valley of the Hebros river, was attested by several Roman itineraries.

During the troubled period of Late Antiquity, the main roadside complex was moved to a nearby hill, which was fortified, making it the most convenient feature to defend. The area grew into a settlement covering an area of ca. half a hectare. An extensive building plan was implemented within the fortified walls, which contained most of the population. The complex survived from the 4th to the end of the 6th c. CE, when it was demolished in the context of multiple barbarian raids in the valley.

During the 11th and 12th c. the fortification ruins were used to accommodate a medieval settlement. Some dwellings made of perishable materials were built in front of the demolished wall. At the end of the 12th c. the buildings were burned down, and the area was abandoned. Over the next centuries the walls were used as a stone quarry by the local population. Annual archaeological excavations were initiated in 2016, as a joint project of Balkan Heritage Foundation and Septemvri Archaeological Museum “Prof. M. Domaradski”.