New book

Terra sigillata from Ratiaria and Conbustica. Establishment of a local workshop for the production of Italian-style ceramics in Ratiaria

This book presents the results of research conducted by the author in 2008-2011. Due to the exact date provided by the terra sigillata shards and teen-walled pottery, some conclusions are made concerning the earliest ages of Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria and the military unit settled in this place. The book presents also evidence of the earliest in the region local center for the production of pottery connected with the Italian atelies.

Statement regarding Scaptopara

The archaeological site near the village of Pokrovnik is situated on the non-flood terrace of the Struma river, approximately 800 meters from the river’s right bank and at altitude of 350 meters. According to the sat-ellite images, taken before the excavation began, the region is situated amongst agricultural lands, used as such at that time as well. The terrain is completely flat and habitable. It is evident that in ancient times the fertile lands near the river and the natural assets of the broad valley between the Rila and Vlahina Mountains, where the present-day town is situated, were well utilized.

The topographic placement of the archaeological site, as well as the geographical benefits of the region, suggest intensive habitation of the entire valley during ancient periods. Therefore, it must not come as a surprise as the main architectural structures (regardless of the intend of their use) are found underneath where the current modern-day town is situated. The famous inscription mentioning the name of the village “Skaptopara” (Σκαπτοπάρα) is found in an area which currently is a neighbourhood of the town of Blagoevgrad (former vil-lage of Gramada). This area is situated only about 2.5 km from the studied archaeological site which gives us every reason to believe that the archaeological remains found near the village of Pokrovnik are only one small part of the settlement which is situated underneath the modern town of Blagoevgrad.

Ratiaria WHV project Evaluation Report

UNESCO WHV project Ratiaria

If you did not know the archaeological “tourist” site of Ratiaria was there you would drive past it without any notice. The sign explaining the site is a 5 minute walk down a dirt road and it entirely unseeable from the road. The sign has even more faults; while it explains that it is open to tourists it fails to explain the significance or any history or archaeological information from the site. Any tourist who went here would need have known about the site already and have an extensive knowledge of the Roman Empire in Bulgaria; which is highly unlikely. The site is largely looked after by one volunteer from the village who lives near by. Upon our arrival he told us that a group of tourists came by and he acted as their guide in an attempt to explain the site. Unfortunately, the problems with Ratiaria do not end there. The site is in a worrying condition. The plant life has taken over and the building are degrading at an extreme rate due to the lack of preservation. The overgrown and disorganised state make it difficult for tourists to navigate the site and education themselves about the fascinating archaeology. Unlike other sites such as these are filled with information signs explains the purpose of building and drawing showing what they would have looked the when complete; Ratiaria has none.

UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers 2017


WHV - RATIARIA SEMPER FLOREAT (Latin: Ratiaria will flourish forever)

Colonia Ulpia Traiana Ratiaria, Bulgaria

Site inscribed on a tentative list since 2016

WHV patrimonio

The Roman city Ratiaria is part of the The Danube Limes in Bulgaria. The Roman frontier system in Bulgaria consisted of a chain of fortifications along the south bank of the river Danube. Along the course of the river line lay four legionary fortresses (RATIARIA, OESCUS, NOVAE, DUROSTORUM) and many forts and watch-towers, 46 of which have been precisely identified on the ground until present.

Project objectives:

To help for the protection of the cultural site by cleaning, documenting and promoting of the preserved archaeological and architectural structures. To involve the local communities into the preservation actions and to provoke better understanding of the cultural heritage as part of the national history and regional development. To provoke future actions on protection of the site by involving the international attention through the assistance of the young people from all over the world. To help to the local authorities to elaborate and develop appropriate project for preservation and socialization of the cultural monument.

Project activities:

Site preservation activities: taking care for the ancient buildings, cleaning architectural and archaeological remains. Field conservation (stabilization) and protection of the old buildings and structures. Archaeological and geodetic documentation. Seminars and daily talks. Promotion of the Public collection in Dimovo. Organizing a new exposition presenting the results of the action camp.

RATIARIA - what exactly happens with the Bulgarian archaeology?

The destruction of the Roman colony Ratiaria at the South bank of the Danube river is very well known. Some of the international organisation such as ICOMOS even put "The case Ratiaria" into the World report 2011-2013 on monuments and sites in danger. The paradox in this situation is that exactly in 2013 the Ministry of Culture in Bulgaria start funding the site and the archaeological excavations here were officially reopened under the guidance of the National Archaeological Institute. And so - RATIARIA WAS FORGOTTEN!

What exactly happens with Bulgarian archaeology? Was Ratiaria preserved after the intervention of the National Archaeological Institute and was the site protected by the Ministry of Culture? The media publications after 2013 sounds as a horror chronicle ...