Principal investigator: dr hab. Agnieszka Tomas
Name of the site: Novae
Partner institutions: Faculty of Archaeology University of Warsaw and the National Institute of Archaeology Bulgarian Academy of Sciences with the Museum
Type of the site: Roman legionary camp (castra legionis), civil settlement (canabae legionis) and late Roman town.
Chronology: 1st-6th century AD
The legionary fortress in Novae today is an archaeological site in northern Bulgaria, on the Danube, near the town of Svishtov. It was probably founded around the middle of the 1st century AD. The 1st Italian legion was based here for most of its existence and its presence is confirmed until the 30s of the 5th century AD. In the area of the camp, which covers 17.99 ha, monumental buildings have been discovered, the most important of which is the headquarters building (principia), although the legionary hospital (valetudinarium) and baths (thermae legionis) are equally impressive. There was a civil settlement (canabae) on the west side of the camp, and a necropolis on the south and east side. In the late antiquity, the fortifications of Novae were reinforced, and an additional area (the so-called annex) was attached to the camp from the east, covering an area of almost 9 ha. At that time, both soldiers and civilians lived within the walls. Traces of the latest Roman activity date back to the end of the 6th century.
Description of the present research:
In 2021, we started research in the central part of the site, directly behind the fortress’ headquarters (principia). In this place, in 2005, the remains of a massive building with a regular layout were documented, as well as the reused base of the statue of the legionary legate during the reign of Gordian III. The aim of the research is to determine the nature of the buildings in this part of the camp and to determine the function of the aforementioned building, which may have been the seat of the legion commander (praetorium).
Thanks to the discoveries in 2021-22, we learned that the buildings in this place had a residential character until the late Roman period.
See the documentary about our field works: FILM
The previous project, including research in the late antique Novae district (the so-called annex) and the necropolis, was completed in 2021.
Project completed/financial support:
Extramural settlement near the Roman legionary fortress at Novae (Lower Moesia) and its fate in Late Antiquity, National Science Centre, OPUS 10, NCN, OPUS 10, no. 2015/19B/HS3/017/90
- A. Tomas, E. Jaskulska, J. Dworniak-Jarych, E Jęczmienowski, T. Dziurdzik, A. Mech, The eastern necropolis at Novae, Archaeologia Bulgarica 24/3, 2020, 37–63
- The transformation of Novae. Eastern necropolis and the late Roman extension [in:] Transformations in Antiquity, A. Tomas (ed.), BREPOLS, RomA Series (in preparation)
Other projects realized in Novae by the Expedition of the Faculty of Archaeology UW:
Novae 2017-2021. In medio castrorum. Sculptural and epigraphic landscape of the central part of the legionary fortress at Novae
Novae 2012-2015. Research on settlement structures near the Roman legionary camp at Novae (Lower Moesia) using non-destructive prospection methods (A. Tomas, completed)
Novae 2009-2011. The headquarters building and the fortifications (T. Sarnowski, completed)