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Public lecture by Dr. Evgenia Komatarova-Balinova on “The medieval monastery at Murfatlar – a project of NAIM-BAS in Northern Dobrudzha”


On Tuesday, December 12, 2023, at 17:00, in the building of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum in Sofia, 1 Atanas Burov Sq. (opposite the Presidency Building), Dr. Evgenia Komatarova-Balinova is going to give a lecture, as part of the “Academic seminar of NAIM” lecture series, on the 2021-2023 scientific research of the medieval monastery at Murfatlar, carried out by a team of the NAIM-BAS in relation to the National Scientific Program “Development and promotion of Bulgarian studies abroad” of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science.

The rock-cut monastery at Murfatlar, Constanţa municipality, is a monument of national importance for both Bulgaria and Romania, with the border between the two countries dividing the historical-geographic region of Dobrudzha, where it is located. Although not entirely studied, the medieval monastery at Murfatlar is well known to the scientific community. It is renowned for the hundreds of graffiti (with textual symbols and drawings), which have been at the centre of a scientific debate in the decades after its discovery in 1957 by the team of Professor Ion Barnea (1913-2004) from the Archaeological Institute in Bucharest. The accepted dating of the site is set between the end of the 9th and the beginning of the 11th c. AD.

The newly organised 2021-2023 scientific project of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum was necessitated by both the destructive effect of the elements on the preserved graffiti as well as some flaws of their previous documentation. The field activities were performed in four stages and had the most endangered sections of the monastery documented again. Specialists from seven institutions from Bulgaria and abroad were part of the team. Three laser scans of the central and western sections of the site were performed during the project, which produced the 3D images of four churches, two chapels, two crypts, four galleries, one niche and a shaft. 500 graffiti were documented, including 126 inscriptions – two times more than the previously known. Some of the latter made it possible to move the end-date of the site from the beginning of the 11th c. to the second half of the 13th c. AD.

Dr. Evgenia Komatarova-Balinova is an assistant professor (chief assistant) at the Department of Medieval Archaeology in the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. She studied Archaeology in the Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, where she acquired her Master’s degree in 2004. Between 2007 and 2010 she was a PhD student at NAIM-BAS. Her research interests are focused on the Early Medieval period in Eastern Europe. As a field archaeologist or a Dig Director she has participated in the excavations of the biritual necropolis in Balchik, the Round Stone Ground in Pliska, the Hayredin Rampart, as well as at the Pastirskoto gradishte site (Ukraine), the Semikarakorskoto gradishte, Krinichnoe village and the medieval necropoleis on the Samarska Luka peninsula (Russia). In 2021 Dr. Komatarova-Balinova gained funds for an internal project in NAIM-BAS: “The Round Stone Ground in Pliska: construction materials, graffiti, signs and inscriptions” where the monasteries at Murfatlar and Ravna were used for comparison. In 2021-2023 she is a scientific coordinator of the cooperation agreement between NAIM-BAS and the Constanța History and Archaeology Museum with an objective “Research and documentation of the rock-cut monastery at Murfatlar”. During the same time period she is the Director of the field activities of this project.