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The “Gradiște” Citadel, VratsaCod 2720

Gradiște is situated at 1, 5 kilometers west from the city Vratsa. The archeological site is situated at north from the road towards the village Zgorigrad and the river Leva, which are formed in the rock massive the Vratsata Quays. The excavations started in 2010 on the 14th of June and they ended on the 15th of December. The duration of the study has been determined by the fact that, in the ancient and medieval citadel it was discovered the early Christian citadel with the basilica plan and considerable dimensions. It had to be completely investigated. The temple is built from well chopped grey chalkstone and red freestones and travertine cemented with white cement paste. The length of the church is of approximately 20 meters in the western and in the northern part and the foundations are affected by the medieval construction later on. From the southern wall of the temple it is kept only the foundation, because of the great dislocation and of the land erosion. The width of the wall is of 1.25 – 1.26 m. The altar space is formed in the interior of the semicircular apses, whose diameter is of approximately 4, 5 meters. Besides the apse there also is the petstenna, kept at a height of approximately 1,5 m external and the person who plastered and left with a decorative purpose the thick mortar attachments. The principal part of the church, called the nave, has a width of approximately 6 meters, with a length of 6, 35 meters, without an apse.
There have been discovered the archeological materials – the coins from the period of the reign of the emperor Iustinian I (527 – 565), the clothing articles, toiletry articles and jewels (bronze hair pins with a polygonal head, a triangle amulet of bronze worn at the neck and used as a seal with the incised image of a deer, etc.), the ceramics products make plausible the idea that the church was built in the VIth century. This thing confirms once again that following a study of four years the faith in the early Byzantine period in Gradiște led to the execution of more significant constructions. Under the foundations of the early Christian church, there were discovered three identical bronze coins. On one side it is described the goddess Victoria, with a crown of laurels and the inscription VIC / AVG. On the overleaf there are presented the three Legionary flags having round and round the signs: COHOR / Prae / Fil. The coins are from the city Filip, Macedonia. The image of the commander is lacking, but they are cast in the period of the emperors Augustus (27 – 14 b. Chr.) and Claudius (AD 41 – 54). It was found a similar coin in the period of the archeological study from 2009, but also in 1898 in the neighboring region Voivodina dol there were found steel matrixes for beating the silver coins (the dinars), from the period of Augustus. This can be dated exactly in the year 15 b. Chr. The coin discovery from Filipi and the seal from the period of Augusts, in the area of the Thracian establishment in Gradiște, remained a testimony regarding the last period of its existence. During the campaign of Crassus or in the following 15 years – after the creation of the province Misia, this is destroyed. Lastly it was ended the reign of the dynasty of the Thracian commanders who commanded the Thracian lands from north – west. In the Grădiște area there is a small Roman garrison, from the first half of the Ist century which holds under control the road which leads to the copper mines situated above Zgorigrad. Then it is evaluated their importance and it is continued their exploitation.

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