Novae – civil settlement (canabae)

Principal investigator: dr Agnieszka Tomas
Name of the site:
Partner institutions:
Institute 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.

Novae – civil settlement (canabae)
In 2010, preparations began for a project aimed at research on the settlement around the Roman legionary camp in Novae. In 2011, the project was joined by a group of students and graduates of the IAUW, previously operating at the Scientific Society of Modern Methods of Prospection and Archaeological Documentation “Wod.o.Lot” – Piotr Wroniecki (Chairman of the Student Scientific Society), Michał Pisz (Head of the Student Project), Marcin Jaworski and Joanna Balcerzak. Project participants performed a series of tests to select research methods. Attempts were quite successful, although not without sacrifices, related, among others, to with the necessity to deal with lush vegetation. The project was the first non-invasive survey in Novae, and the first regular non-invasive survey in the canabae and around the fortress.

With the support of the National Science Center, in March 2012, a project was launched entitled “Research on settlement structures near the Roman legionary camp at Novae (Lower Moesia) using non-destructive prospection methods”. The aim of the project was to record traces of civil settlement outside the legionary camp, especially in the area to the east of the camp, which was surrounded by a wall in the late antiquity and became an integral part of the city.

As part of the project, geophysical research was carried out using a gradiometer and a cesium magnetometer with a GPS RTK station, a three-dimensional model of the terrain will be recreated, and a series of photos from the air will be made. The research area covered the area of the annex, the canabae on the west side of the fortress, and the second civil settlement (vicus) located approx. 2 km east of the fortress in Ostrite Mogili and smaller settlements (including a villa to the south-east of Novae). At the same time, the materials published so far, most likely from these settlements and cemeteries (loose finds, inscriptions), and infrastructure objects were cataloged and documented again, e.g. photographically. Thanks to the support of the Foundation for Polish Science, in 2012 a museum query was carried out, which allowed to supplement the catalog with published and unpublished monuments stored in the Historical Museum in Svishtov and Sofia.

As a final result, i.a. two volumes will be published as monographs on the civil settlements in Lower Moesia and the results of the non-invasive surveys.

Project title/financial support: NCN, SONATA 1, “Research on settlement structures near the Roman legionary camp at Novae (Lower Moesia) using non-destructive prospection methods”, No. UMO-2011/01/D/HS3/02187, 2012-2014.

More information: here and here

Project completed.


A. Tomas, Non-Destructive Investigations in the Extramural Area of Novae (Lower Moesia) in 2014, Światowit 53/A, 2014 (2015), 205–212.

A. Tomas, Non-destructive survey in Novae (Lower Moesia) [in] Limes XXII. Proceedings of the 22nd International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies Ruse, Bulgaria, September 2012, L. Vagalinski, N. Sharankov [eds.], Sofia 2015, 881–888.

A. Tomas, Tracing Civilian Settlement in the Surroundings of Novae (Lower Moesia). Sources, Investigations, Results [in] Romans and the Others in the Lower Danube Region in the First Century BC – Third Century AD. Proceedings of the International Colloquium Tulcea, 7-11 of October 2015, Cr.-G. Alexandrescu [ed.], Biblioteca Istro-Pontică. Seria Archeologie, 12, Cluj-Napoca 2016, 191–204.

T. Sarnowski, L. Kovalevskaja, A. Tomas, P. Zakrzewski, T. Dziurdzik, E. Jęczmienowski, Novae – castra, canabae, vicus, 2013-2015. Preliminary report on the Excavations and Prospection Surveys of the University of Warsaw Archaeological Expedition, Archeologia 65, 2016, 177–203.

T. Sarnowski, L. Kovalevskaja, A. Tomas, T. Dziurdzik, E. Jęczmienowski, P. Zakrzewski, Novae 2015. Legionary defences and extramural settlement, Światowit 54-55/A/B, 2015-2016 (2018), 322–328.

A. Tomas, E. Genčeva, Geofizični izsledvaniâ na teritoriâta na kanabite na Novae, A. Tomas, Arheologičeski otkritija i razkopki prez 2012 g., Sofia 2013, 250–251.

A. Tomas, E. Genčeva, Geofizični izsledvaniâ na teritoriâta na kanabite na Novae, Arheologičeski otkritija i razkopki prez 2013 g., Sofia 2014, 318–319.

A. Tomas, A New Dedicatory Inscription from Novae (Lower Moesia), Światowit 52/A, 2013 (2014), 79–86.

A. Tomas, Geofizični proučvanija i obhoždanija v okolnostite na Nove [in] Arheologičeski otkritija i razkopki prez 2014 g., Sofia 2015, 409–410.

A. Tomas, Living with the Army I, Living with the Army I. Civil Settlements near Roman Legionary Fortresses in Lower Moesia, Warszawa 2017.

A. Tomas et al., Living with the Army II. The Results of Remote Sensing and Fieldwalking Surveys in Novae (Lower Moesia), Warszawa 2021 (in preparation).

Other projects realized in Novae by the Expedition of the Faculty of Archaeology UW:

Novae 2016-2021. Extramural settlement near the Roman legionary fortress at Novae (Lower Moesia) and its fate in Late Antiquity (A. Tomas)

Novae 2017-2021. In medio castrorum. Sculptural and epigraphic landscape of the central part of the legionary fortress at Novae (T. Sarnowski, A. Tomas)

Novae 2009-2011. The headquarters building and the fortifications (T. Sarnowski, completed)