2 December 2022


Foundation of the Hellenic World
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The excavation of FHW and NAIM-BAS in Halka Bunar
(Excavation period 2010)

The Foundation of the Hellenic World is continuing its excavation for the second year, in collaboration with the National Institute of Archaeology and Museum in Bulgaria. The 2010 season started on the 1st of June. The excavation is expected to finish on the 3rd of July while the post-excavation research on the 15th of July.

Dr. Ioannis Georganas, Maria Dawson and workers of the excavation at the western ceramic kiln

The western pottery kiln and sherds on the working platform

Various sherds, bone and a black-glazed kantharos

The excavation is directed, as in the previous year, by Dr. Athanasios Sideris and Dr. Milena Tonkova for the Greek and the Bulgarian sides respectively. The Greek team also includes Dr. Ioannis Georganas and Maria-Dimitra Dawson while the Bulgarian team consists of Miglena Vasilieva, Ekaterina Petkova and Daniela Dimčeva. The geophysical study of the area has been undertaken by Nikola Tonkov. The 46 workers employed in the excavation come from the nearby villages. The municipality of Bratya Daskalovi, where Halka Bunar is situated, supported our research activity this year by funding approximately one third of the workers and some of the works through a programme of research and the promotion of the archaeological sites under its jurisdiction.

Dr. Athanasios Sideris measuring the western pottery kiln

Grey-style kantharos, Early Hellenistic Period

South pottery kiln with a sherd on its surface

The excavation started with the continuation of the work which had been left unfinished from the previous season and the expansion of the sectors under examination. At the area of the Neolithic House 1 (on the southwest), a pottery kiln that had been found just before the end of the previous season, was fully excavated and examined this year. It is a round kiln with three levels constructed with large mudbricks. On the lowest level lay the fire chamber and the feeding hole. On the middle level there is a perforated clay surface where vessels were placed to be fired. The firing area was covered by a clay domed roof, which constitutes the third construction level. The two upper levels were found destroyed and in a pile over the lower level. On the south of the kiln we located the supply tunnel and the kiln's working platform with a substantial number of sherds, only part of which is related to local production. Among them a black-glazed kantharos stands out as well as several sherds from amphorae, oinochoai and basins of grey pottery. Two sherds of red-figure pottery seem to provide the oldest evidence from this area. In the past, five more kilns of a similar nature have been discovered on the site. However, the kiln west of the Neolithic House 1 is the largest with a diameter of 1.56 m.

Following the results of the geophysical analysis, we excavated south of the Neolithic House 1, where another pottery kiln was found with a diameter of 1.25 m. Even though the feeding system is not preserved, it seems that it was on the west and possibly led to a preparation area that was common with that of the western kiln, from which the distance is no more than 6 metres. The south kiln, however, maintains almost all of its firing eschara (second construction level), which consists of large perforations at the circumference and is supported by a central small pessos (column). From the collection of sherds found on the kiln, a grey-ware kantharos and the base of a probably Thracian amphora  stand out. To the west of the kiln we found several Early Iron Age sherds, amongst them a large fragment of a lekanis with lip. In close proximity to the kiln a bronze coin was found, which has not yet been conserved, but probably belongs to a mint of Seuthes III.

The eastern and western boundaries of the Neolithic house 1

Blades and flakes of flint

Clay spindle-whorls

We have also defined the boundaries of the clay debris from the walls of the Neolithic House 1 and we began to study them. Apart from the expected "Karanovo III" sherds and the blades of flint, several clay spindle whorls were found, indicating a wool industry activity, an axe of green basalt, a clay seal  and a stone pendant. In one of the upper disturbed layers we found a silver pin with a flattened head, an ornament that obviously belongs to a later period.

Clay seal

Plaque-shaped stone pendant

Silver pin, probably Hellenistic

At the same time, we continued the research towards the south in the sector of the Hellenistic "house". Pottery sherds, particularly of large pithoi, kyathia and black-glazed kantharoi, as well as various pits with ceramics, bones and other artefacts were found. At present, we are unable to offer a definite interpretation but a ritual character for this area cannot be excluded. On the southeast of the sector there was probably a workshop, since from that area came a small iron hammer, a spatula, a small chisel and a lead weight with the letter "«" inscribed on its surface. Somewhat further away we found an amphora sherd bearing a fragmentary graffito in Greek (carved inscription).

Hellenistic kyathion

Iron tools: knife, hammer, spatula

Lead weight with the letter "«"

In the immediate lower layer we unearthed Neolithic finds, frequently disturbed by Hellenistic pits. Finally, on the northeast of the sector, we started excavating a pear-shaped pit, which was covered by a large amount of clay and contained some pottery.

During this year's excavation we dug five new test trenches. The two that lay at the north part of the site did not lead to any significant findings. The southernmost trench, however, has yielded an area of clay debris from fallen walls. Most of the clay fragments bear clear impressions of the wood used on the construction of the walls. Research in this sector will continue in the following season.

Bronze fibula of Thracian type

Silver drachma of Alexander, minted after his death, Colophon 310-301 BC

Sherds of black-glazed kantharos with "Western Slope" decoration,
Early Hellenistic Period

Another of the test trenches did not bring to light a structure but it yielded, in the upper disturbed layers, part of a bronze fibula and a silver drachma of Alexander, excellently preserved. On the northern part of the trench a small pit was found, which was dug in the virgin soil, within which they had been placed iron objects such as sheets, an obelos and rings, probably parts of the armament of a chariot.

The northernmost of all trenches was the richest in terms of finds. We unearthed the remains of the walls of a large Neolithic house (Neolithic House 2), which has been partly disturbed by both pits and clay constructions of later periods. Amongst the pits a small one stood out, within which lay two Early Iron Age vessels – one with lavish geometric decoration. A larger pit contained sherds of grey-ware, mainly from the Classical period. From the imported pottery found, the kantharoi with "West Slope" decoration stand out.

The excavation is still in progress and more news will follow after its completion.

Dr. Athanasios Sideris
Bratya Daskalovi, 22 June 2010