Ottoman Towns in Bulgaria

Location:  Bulgaria

Year(s):  2017-2018

Grant Recipient: Andrew Petersen, University of Oxford


Grigor Boykov University of Sofia 

Ivo Topalailov Shumen University

Rositza Gradeva American University in Bulgaria

Funding:  BIAA

Under BIAA SRI(s):  

Cultural heritage, society and economy in Turkey, Interconnections of peace and conflict: culture, politics institutions in national, regional and international perspectives


This is the second year of a three year project investigating themes in the archaeology of the Ottoman period in Bulgaria. Although Bulgaria was an integral and central component of the Ottoman empire from the late fourteenth to the late nineteenth century the archaeology of this period is not given much promimence within Bulgaria. The aim of the second year of the project was to investigate the developement of towns tracing the transition from medieval to Bulgarian settlements to Ottoman towns. The project involved visiting  towns with Ottoman remains throughout Bulgaria  to trace how the settlements evolved. Three towns or cities of particular importance are Sofia, Plovdiv and Kyustendil each of which contains significant remains both from the medieval and the Ottoman period. As the capital of the Ottoman Balkans Sofia (Roman Serdica) was of particular importance and recent large scale archaeological excavations have demonstrated an interesting mixture of material culture with continued use of medieval Bulgarian themes as well as new Ottoman motifs and technologies. Plovidv (ancient Philipopolis) was occupied before Sofia and has a large number of Ottoman monuments in addition to the substantial remains of the Classical city. As in Sofia there have been large scale excavations which have concentrated on the earlier periods resulting in the removal of much of the evidence of Ottoman occupation including some important kilns (unpublished). The relationship between Ottoman and medieval Plovdiv is unclear although it is evident that the city expanded both in terms of size and econonmy during the Ottoman period. 

Resulting Publications: 

Petersen, A.D. “Under the Yoke”: The Archaeology of the Ottoman Period in Bulgaria in  Journal of Islamic Archaeology Vol 3, No.2 2017
Petersen, A.D. Ottoman Towns in Bulgaria in Heritage Turkey 2016, p.40
Petersen, A.D. The Ottoman archaeology and architecture of Bulgaria in Heritage Turkey 2015, p.40

Andrew Petersen:

I am an archaeologist specialising in the Ottoman period. I have previously carried out architectural surveys and archaeological excavations on Ottoman sites in the Middle East including Palestine, Qatar, Iraq and Jordan. With this background I was interested in investigating the European aspect of the Ottoman legacy and in particular the post-medieval archaeology of Bulgaria. 

Belongs to;
Byzantine & Ottoman History

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