Fortified Village and Early Christian Mission Center, IV-VI century

The archeological excavations in the village of Belchin, Samokov municipality, disclosed new historical data from the unknown so far period of the Great Migration of nations.

Located at the crossroad between the rich and highly developed town centers from the Antiquity - Pautalia, Serdika, Germania and Philipopolis, the Samokov region with its fortified villages had been influenced by all historical processes. It had been further unique with its traditions from the Antiquity and Middle ages as one of the most important metallurgical centers.

The "St. Spas" hill, located in proximity to the medieval temple of "St. Petka" in Belchin, had been an important part of the age-old history of the village. Two years of archeological research revealed the functional essence of the fortress on the hill - namely, fortified village.

The fortress was located on an area of 0,9 ha, surrounded by a stone fortified wall. The angles and the gate were flanked by large rectangular towers. The archeological research revealed 3 towers so far. Their structure consisted of carved stones in plaster. The geophysical research registered the gate very accurately, as well as the presence of additional buildings next to the fortified wall. The chain-like plan of the buildings of non-durable material (wooden structures greased with mud, and tile roofs) and the traces of fireplaces, steel tools, scale weights, vertical loom weights and slag proved the economic character of the buildings. The coin finds dated back to the IV - VI century. The multilayer archeological structure of the location marked the dynamics and development of the habitation. The excavations in the inner parts of the village surprised the archeological team with earlier finds from the Late Bronze period. The archeologists found extremely fragmented religious ceramics in the stone heaping and pits and presumed therefore the presence of a Thracian sanctuary during the period of the Trojan War.

The research of an early Christian religious complex evidenced for the strong religious significance of the hill. The complex was located in immediate proximity north from the gate of the fortress. The area around the medieval church, subject of research in 2007, disclosed earlier architectural remains. Expanding the research area, the archeologists discovered that the medieval temple from the XV c. had been erected on the remains of a de-structured early Christian basilica from the end of V-VI c. It had been erected by carved stone and white plaster. The preserved superstructure of the walls of the two side naves approached 1m. The planning solution was unusual for the region - a narrow and long nave, entrance and open narthex from western and northern directions and the altar was formed as a three-nave basilica. The medieval church was located entirely on the foundations of the central nave.

Not earlier than the last days of the research works, remains of another - third in the row church were found. The coin find on the floor level dated back to V c.

The period of the Late Antiquity (IV-VI c.) was characterized by vast cultural-historical, political and ethnical transitions, leaving permanent traces in the layers between two empires - Rome and Byzantium. The rich spiritual and physical culture of the local Thracian population had been in symbiosis with the highly developed Roman civilization. The history of the region in combination with the favorable climate and natural conditions had attracted many nations. In a couple of centuries hundreds of thousands of dwellers crossed the Bulgarian lands - Huns, Goths, Avars, Alans and Pechenegs - and all of them had the purpose to remain permanently in the region. Some of them used fire and sword, other - labor and persistency - to create the basis of a developed proto-European civilization.

The research works in dating and specifying the hundreds of finds - coins, arrows, finery, ceramics and tools continues. They are planned to be exposed in the ethnographical museum and religious complex in Belchin - branch to the Historical Museum in Samokov.