Exciting discoveries at Ancient Philippopolis
The ongoing excavations in the heart of Ancient Philippopolis, better known as modern day Plovdiv in Bulgaria, have unearthed an ancient pantheon temple and a Pompeiian style brothel. The excavations of the six luxury quarters of the ancient city centre have challenged what was previously thought about life during its time as an outpost of the Roman Empire and has raised questions that we are currently unable to answer. Led by Zheni Tankova of the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology, other discoveries have included an inn with a tavern, and extravagant public and residential buildings.
However, it is the temple and the brothel that have caused the most excitement. The Antiquity Temple contained evidence of being a place of worship for several different deities, not a single god as was customary for the time. Inside the temple were figures made of marble, clay and terracotta that depicted different deities worshipped by the Thracians, Romans, Greeks, Persians and Phrygians. While not well preserved, it is the first temple of it’s type to be discovered in the region. Tankova described it as ‘a true Pantheon, the Pantheon of Ancient Philippopolis’.
Equally exciting is the Roman brothel, though it’s street-facing entrance, mixed masonry and richly decorated interior suggest that it was something far more special. It could be considered a Courtesan House, ‘a resting place, after taking a bath’ according to Tankova. This style of brothel has not yet been seen outside of Pompeii, though the Lupanar is roughly two centuries older.
Philippopolis (Plovdiv) has an extensive history, with an archaeological and architectural legacy that stretches from the Hellenistic Age, through the Romans, the Ottomans, and the Bulgarian National Revival. We are only scratching the surface of what delights this city can offer up. In the last year, a 1st century Roman triumphal arc was discovered, evidence left behind from the Gothic invasion of the Roman Empire was uncovered at the Antiquity Odeon and a Roman tomb was unearthed by accident on the Plovdiv Medical University campus. Alongside these discoveries, the ongoing excavations of the Thracian and Roman Nebat Tepe Fortress continues to yield treasures that challenge what was previously believed about life in Philippopolis.
Added: 17th January 2019