Pliska - 100 years of archaeological excavations
R. Rashev, Ya. Dimitrov

III. The legacy of Pliska

    3. Villages and dwellings

The stone buildings and ensembles occupy an insignificant share of the enormous inhabited territory of Pliska. The latter was mostly taken by the villages of the common population of the capital. Four or five village appeared around the khan’s residence in a small period of time in the VIII c. They continued to exist until the X c. when part of their population moved to the Inner town. Uninhabited areas, used for growing crops and as pastures, were spread between the villages. The layout and the exact extent of these villages is not exactly determined. Relatively rich are the data for the village in the neighbourhood of church No 11. A large quadrangular yard, surrounded by a double board fence and enclosing a few dwellings, has been investigated there. Probably they belonged to an extended family or to a clan. The fence has a distinguishable entrance-gate which give reasons to reconstruct it as a defensive construction, althought that is not very likely. Signs of trenches belonging to similar fences are located also in the neighbourhood of the Large Basilica and of the Inner town. The villages of the Outer town survived until approximately the second half of the X c., but even before that, during the first half of the century, living districts developed, first, along the fortress walls, and later, inside the very centre of the Inner town. Their population came from the neighbouring villages and was engaged in various crafts, concentrated mainly along the western fortress wall. Lightly-built stone dwellings and half-dugouts have been investigated there. They contain artefacts from the last stage of life in the former capital. At the end of the X and during the first half of the XI c. this population already built their dwellings pressed against the walls of the uninhabited by then palace buildings. Large lead plates from the roof of some of these buildings were found hidden in the oven of one of these dwellings near the eastern fortress gate. The villages in the Outer town constantly changed their territory. The worn down dwellings were not restored but simply abandoned and new ones were built next to them. By the mid-X c. around 3/4 of the territory of the Outer town was inhabited for some time. Uninhabited remained small waterless areas in the northern end as well as the low-lying, collecting the rain waters, areas.

The dwellings of the commom people were simple and not large. Contrary to the expectations that Pliska, the seat of the main Proto-Bulgarian group, would offer many examples of the their traditional type of dwelling – the yurt, only one case has been found so far. This is a not large yurt in the form of the number 8, discovered next to the Throne Palace. It represents shallow pan-like pit with wooden stakes driven vertically along its edge. There was a fireplace with animal bones around it at the centre of the larger of the two compartments. Probably some of the other fireplaces found in that area also belong to yurts situated directly at the surface which made them archaeologically undetectable. The only other type of dwelling is the rectangular semi-dugout. It was heated by a stone oven situated on the floor or dug in into a shallow pit. The walls were covered with wood and wooden pillars held the roof. This type of dwelling, with few changes in its conctruction and the position of the oven, was commonly used in Pliska.

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