Palmatis is an Ancient Roman city with a large fortified territory of 225,000 square meters. It is situated near today’s village Onogur in North-East Bulgaria, a region known as Dobrudga. Back in old times this was a Roman province called Moesia Secunda. Palmatis occupied a strategic location on a high plain, naturally defended by the branches of the river Suha Reka. Palmatis prospered alongside the important road that went from the city of Durostorum (today’s Silistra, close to Danube river) to the city of Marcianopolis (today’s Devnya, close the Black Sea coast).
During the last three years, the Regional History Museum in Dobrich and the Municipality of Tervel launched a research program on the site of Palmatis. So far, there has been excavated an Early Christian basilica. It has the common three-aisle structure with wide naos flanked by narrow side aisles. They were separated by two lines of columns, which fragments are now scattered around. Many original elements are luckily preserved, including the base of the altar table, the bases of the baldachin’s columns and the base of the chancel screen that encloses the altar. The whole church is spectacular in size: nearly sixty metres long.
However, the most astonishing part of the basilica is the synthronon. This is a semicircle structure, situated in the central part of the temple that combines the bishop's throne and seats for the rest of the clergy. The synthronon of Palmatis is, according to the archaeologists’ researches, unusually high – it rises up to two and a half meters above the floor. Three of the nine stone steps of the synthronon have been preserved.
During the excavations many other architectural artifacts have been discovered such as fragments of columns, capitals, and ornate stones. As a safety measure, the most valuable of them have been transferred to the museum in the nearby city of Tervel.
The excavation works are still going on and the site is not open to the public. No conservation works have been carried out so far. It appears unspoiled by tourism, hidden, and wondrous.
The Training Course
The Training Course contributed to the immediate conservation of the archaeological structures of the Early Christian basilica. The works have been carried out at two locations of the site - the synthronon and the chancel screen at the altar.
The volunteers have been engaged in all levels of the conservation process. During the first week they have been engaged in planning a conservation strategy by recording archaeological structures, surveying architectural elements, and mapping damaged areas. During the second week, they have been engaged in implementing the conservation strategy from the previous week. The work consisted of various hands-on tasks such as cleaning and applying repair techniques.
Every stage of the project has been preceded by a short theory introduction by the technical instructors, who are well-known experts in the field.
The educational part of the project did not only provide knowledge about the cultural heritage from the Late Antiquity, but also provided the opportunity for the volunteers to become acquainted to the region of Dobrudga. It included a hike to the canyon of the river Suha Reka and a guided tour of the picturesque rock-hewn monasteries nearby. During the project the volunteers lived in an original Dobrudga village and got to know the local community who are ancestors of the Crimean Tatars. The Crimean Tatars are a minority which settled on Bulgarian lands in the 18th and 19th centuries and have managed to preserve their traditions and identity.
The Training Course has been organised by the Association Horishte and the Regional History Museum Dobrich, in partnership with and with relevant financial support of European Heritage Volunteers.