After a break of more than 45 years, a Bulgarian-French team resumed archeological excavations at the site “Malkoto Kale” – one of the most important Thracian fortresses on the ridge of Meden rid, located in the vicinity of ancient Apollonia (now Sozopol). The fortress was created during the Early Iron Age (8th – 6th century BC) by the Thracians – Skirmians, mentioned in later historical sources as Asti. Life in it lasted about 13 centuries to the century. Its inhabitation lasted from about 13 centuries to the 5th century.

In 2020, under an agreement for cultural cooperation and scientific exchange between the MCI “Museum Center” – Sozopol and the Louvre Museum, Paris, the excavations of the fortress were resumed by an international research team with the participation of archaeologists Dr. Teodora Bogdanova, Dimitar Nedev (Archaeological Museum – Sozopol), Dr. Alexander Baralis (Louvre, Paris) and Dr. Magullon Bastid (University of Marseille).

A two-part residential building was discovered, with an area of ​​about 120 sq. m., from the second half of the 2nd – beginning of the 1st century BC. Apollonian coins, querns, and ceramic loom weights were found in one of the rooms, suggesting its economic functions.

Residential building, second half of the 2nd – beginning of the 1st century BC

During the archeological campaign, excavations were carried out along the route of the northern fortress wall. Studies of the cultural levels have proven a sustainable millennial development of the fortress. A dense, burnt layer, registered in the earliest levels, proves that at the end of the Early Iron Age – 6th century BC the village was damaged by fire. At this stage of excavations, it cannot be said whether the arson was of a domestic nature or a consequence of a military conflict, despite the discovery of numerous stone battle balls.

Fortification wall

As a result of the invasion of the Roman Republic on the shores of the Western Black Sea coast, the fortress fell into disrepair and was abandoned. Traces of resettlement have been documented from the period of the second half of the 4th to the beginning of the 5th century. Bronze coins and ceramic lamps dated from this period, one of which has a relief image of a dove with an olive branch, decorated in the style of early Christian symbolism, were discovered.

Lamp with relief decoration of a dove and an olive branch

The results of the research of the international archeological expedition in 2020 are more than encouraging and give grounds for the scientific project to continue in the coming years.