The Unknown Roman Limes in Bulgaria. Part 1: Between the Vit and the Osam Rivers
Непознатият Римски лимес в България. Част 1. Между реките Вит и Осъм
Language: EnglishBulgarian (bilingual)


   The present day Danube border of Bulgaria constituted, at different times between the beginnings of 1st century AD to the last quarter of 7th century, an integral part of the northern border of the Roman Empire  the socalled Danube limes.
   A close scrutiny of the written sources and epigraphic evidence shows that until 3rd century AD the term limes occurs rarely and when used it stands for ‘a military road’ or ‘land border’. Not a single occurrence, however, as much as even hints at limes referring to a set of defence facilities or a particular military and administrative unit. After 4th century the term came to be widely used. Nevertheless, it lacks fortification reference and was never used to mean a system of border fortifications. Rather, it stood for a particular area which comprised parts of a border province and fell within the jurisdiction of a  special military commander with the title of dux (in some cases  comes). The term limes as used in the late antiquity has to be considered, therefore, to have military and administrative connotation in the sense of ‘a military zone’ which outlines the territorial scope of the competences of the specific dux.
   In any event, the term limes in the sense of a fortified defence frontier with fortification and support infrastructure constructed with care, of specific planning scheme and connected with a military road, is presently widely popular and has acquired axiomatic value in modern historiography.
   Written records from the antiquity have preserved 54 toponyms, definitely connected with the infrastructure of the aforementioned section of the Danube limes: names of stations along  the Danube road, legionary camps, support unit camps, fortlets, late Roman and early Byzantine fortified settlements of diverse legal status. It is assumed that some of those toponyms may refer to the same places which, for various reasons, were renamed at a later stage. It is certainly worth noting, that not even half of those toponyms have been localised  unequivocally. Recent research shows that despite being widely accepted, the proposed identification stands in stark contrast to written evidence from the antiquity as well as to archaeological reality.
  Field work, on the other hand, as well as archaeological excavations, has identified the remains of over 70 fortified sites along the banks of the Danube. The overwhelming majority of those have been dated with either full certainty or a very high degree of likelihood to Roman, Late Roman or Early  Byzantine eras. However, the available information on some is dated, incomplete or of questionable scientific value. Furthermore, the dramatic hydrological and landscape changes in the Danubian riverine area over the past one hundred years, as well as the high variations and frequent changes in the local toponymical nomenclature often hamper the use of earlier data regarding  specific sites. In light of the above, the time has certainly come for the existing knowledge about the Bulgarian section of the Danube limes to be reconsidered and subjected to thorough field verification.
   We believe that the productive approach to this huge challenge would be to come up with separate research and critical investigation of individual micro regions and groups of sites. Such body of research shall bring together the essence, the structure and the historical development of the Danube limes within Bulgaria. We hope this scholarly endeavour will be markedly devoid of the deficiencies in interpretation of a broad range of cross-cutting issues, typical of existing historiography.


Table of contents


I. Geographical features of the Danube riverbank between the Vit and the Osam rivers

II. The Danube riverbank between the Vit and the Osam rivers within the Roman provincial systems

1. Within Moesia

2. Within the bounds of Lower Moesia

3. Within the bounds of Dacia Ripensis

III. Written evidence for the ancient settlement and fortification infrastructure along the Danube between the Vit and the Osam rivers

IV. The localisation theories

1. Anasamus/Ansamus/Ἀσημοῦς/Ἀσήμος/Ἀσήμον/Ἄσημα

2. Λαπιδαρίας and Λουκερναρία

V. The Early Roman Anasamus

VI. The Late Roman and Early Byzantine Ansamus/Ἀσημοῦς/ Ἀσήμος/Ἀσήμον/Ἄσημα

VII. Λαπιδαρίας

VIII. Λουκερναρία

IX. The Danube Roman road between the Vit and the Osam rivers

Reference list




Publisher National institute of archaeology with museum (Bulgarian academy of sciences)
Language English
Pages 242
Illustrations b/w and color figures, maps
Binding hardback
ISBN 978-619-00-1245-0
Creation date 2021
Size 16 х 24 cm

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