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Emergency archaeological excavations at Velichkovo, near Pazardzhik

In the late November and early December 2006, emergency archaeological excavations in the Gradishteto locality (Smilyovo gradishte), at Velichkovo, near Pazardzhik were carried out in reply to the great public interest and on initiative of the IAM executives.

The excavations were directed by Dr. Ivan Sotirov (Senior Research Associate) and Dr. Metodi Daskalov (Research Associate). It turned out that the construction and occupation of the fortress dated back to the early Byzantine period. On the basis of the coins found there, the partially excavated foundations of buildings belonging to a couple of construction phases are referred to the period from the 360-es to the 580/590-es AD. No material was found so far which could date the occupation of the fortress to a later period.

According to the information provided by the treasure hunter who has found the hoard consisting of 14 middle Byzantine silver vessels in 2004, a small trench was made at their probable finding place. A small pit was recorded there. In case that it is the actual finding place of the hoard, one of the probable explanations could be that it was buried there by one of the numerous groups of crusaders who were leaving the eastern Mediterranean and traveled to central and western Europe at the end of the 12th century AD.