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

III. The legacy of Pliska

    4. Water supply

The creators of Pliska ensured the water supply for the enourmous camp by incorporating in it two small rivers which were probably deeper at that time. The first inhabitants of the khan’s residence who lived in lightly-built wooden buildings and yurts, did not need any water installations. With the onset of the stone construction such need became apparent. Free-flowing water was brought by the way of an water-conduit from 7 km away, from the springs at the foot of the plateau at the village of Isbul. The water-catching there was pronounced to date to antique times on the basis of the antique building materials used in its construction. Such materials had also been (re-)used in the building of Pliska itself but this does not mean that Pliska is antique in age. The water catching was probably constructed in connection with the establishment of the capital. The main water-conduit, composed of clay pipes of excellent quality, entered the Inner town beneath the stone road pavement of the northern gate and headed towards the Citadel, splitting in two towards its western and eastern part, respectively.

The north-western corner of the Citadel contained almost all constructions dealing with the storage and use of water. A complicated net of water-conduits of various ages has been discovered there. The lead water-conduits and the conduits covered by bricks laid down in eaves-like fashion are relatively early. Their age is also linked to their direction and to which of the various baths they fed. A whole swarm of water-conduits and channels heads towards the southern fortress wall and crosses it at eight specially built openings at its base. Relatively late is one conduit running across the eastern gate and heading in south-western direction near the Throne Palace. The water for the baths was stored in a large reservoir with volume of around 500 m3. Its walls were plastered with special hydrophobic mortar. The excess waters were diverted by pipes to a collector. For unknown reasons this important construction was later halved in volume, and even later — completely abandoned and filled in, for a building to be built over it. The baths to the south of the large reservoir had their own reservoir.

It seems that the abandoning of the Pliska as a capital was caused by the unadequate maintanence of its water supply system. Gradually, its main water-conduit was clogged. This forced the digging up of water-wells by the population of the Inner town. One of the wells was situated in a large pit to the north of the Bolyar Dwelling. Another well, walled by re-used stones, was built in the eastern half of the Citadel. The area around the Large Basilica was not connected to the main water-conduit. That is why water was supplied there from wells from the beginning. Initially, only the cross-like building had wells. Later, the Basilica and the monastery as well. The cleared up well there still impresses by its size and depth, althought its bottom has not been reached yet.

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