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

III. The legacy of Pliska

    6. Materials and workshops

The Pliska plain and its immediate surroundings offer three main building materials clay, wood and stone. A significant part of the vessels used in the dwellings were produced from local clays. One of the pottery workshops was situated at the banks of the river Assar dere (Pliska ?), where kilns from the Xth c. have been found. They represent round chambers, isolated by the fireplace by a grate whose openings let the hot air throught. Ten kilns of a different construction in object No 31 were probably intented for firing up of glazed vessels. So far we do not know where the local bricks and roof-tiles had been produced. Wood has probably been supplied from the neighbouring wooded plateaus and it has been mainly used in the construction of the dwellings, the semi-dugouts, throughtout the existence of Pliska. The stone quarries have not been studied yet. Several types of the stones had been used in the early buildings. The harder types were probably quarried from the banks of the river Kamenitsa to the south-east of Pliska, where there are signs of old stone-pits. The soft marl stones came from underground rocks. The marble, in the form of columns, bases and capitals, represented predominantly re-used antique materials and probably only the column from Vezir tepe was made out of local material. Imported were also the columns of the palace cross-like domed type church, hewn out of the green marble brecca. A slab of this type of marble contains one of the so called Proto-Bulgarian inscriptions. This type of marble whose main quarries were situated in Thessaly, was probably delivered from Byzantium.

The rest of raw-materials were imported from various places. There are data of smelting of non-ferous metals, including gold, in the area of mound XXXIV. Clay smelting utensils and clay nozzles have been found. At the banks of the river there is a spot with a thick layer of charcoals, ashes and fired-up coal IXth c. metallurgical waste. The mound itself is partly built of such waste. A stone mould for decorations and for belt decorations, found in the Palace centre, also speaks about the smelting of non-ferous metals. A whole series of not large, of single-use furnaces for smelting iron were found along the inner face of the fortress wall. At the same place, under a lightly-built wooden shelter there were nine furnaces for melting glass. The iron and the glass furnaces date to the beginning of the X c. at the earliest. At the end of the X c. the first half of the XI c. the former palatial square was turned into a place of production. The production was connected with a chemical substance whose composition has not been investigated, which was brought in special fire-resistant and extremely hard vessels (sphero-cones). Fragments of thick-walled pots, which had acquired bluish colour due to the very high temperature of the liquid poured into them, were discovered near one cross-like stone furnace. Rectangular brick cameras with one narrowed end formed as a stove (? flue, V.K.), found at various places in the Outer and the Inner town, are also connected with production activities. The published examples are relatively late, from the X-XI c., but there are data that such constructions existed during the pagan period as well. A lightly-built workshop for producing utensils out of copper has been found near the northern gate.

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