site.btaEarliest Evidence of Christianity on Bulgarian Territory Found in Debelt

Earliest Evidence of Christianity on Bulgarian Territory Found in Debelt
Earliest Evidence of Christianity on Bulgarian Territory Found in Debelt
The early Christian silver amulet displayed in the Deultum-Debelt National Archaeological Reserve Museum near Debelt, March 5, 2024 (BTA Photo)

A silver amulet is one of the latest valuable archaeological finds discovered during excavations of the Deultum-Debelt National Archaeological Reserve, near the village of Debelt in the southeastern Sredets Municipality. It is believed that the amulet is the earliest evidence of Christianity on Bulgarian lands. After the restoration and analysis of its inscription, it can now be seen in the museum of the reserve, museum curator Dora Todorova told to BTA on Tuesday.

"Early Christians were careful not to be recognized and used various symbols to refer to Christ. In this case, the amulet is placed in a grave, near the head of the person buried in it, away from people's eyes," explained Todorova. The name of Christ is written on it but the first letter is rotated at 45% and forms the shape of a cross. This feature is known in some very early Christian inscriptions, the curator added.

Todorova said that the interpretation of the amulet and its dating are the work of one of Europe's best epigraphy experts, Dr Nikolay Sharankov. In his published analysis, Sharankov argues that its dating makes it the oldest Christian monument with the earliest mention of Christ ever found in the territory of Bulgaria. According to him, the discovery of such an early Christian monument in Deultum of all places is not unexpected, because the Roman colony was the first settlement known to have had a proven Christian community and a bishop.

Colonia Deultum is the first Roman colony on Bulgarian lands, founded in the 1st century AD, inhabited by veterans of the 8th Legion of Augustus. Archaeologists from the Deultum-Debelt National Archaeological Reserve have been studying the colony since the 1980s. 

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By 15:02 on 25.05.2024 Today`s news

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