Sofia and Belgrade – Archaeological Pearls

Photo: BGNES

A joint Bulgarian-Serbian exhibition entitled "Sofia and Belgrade – Archaeological Pearls" can be seen by citizens and guests of the two capital cities by the end of July. In Sofia's “Crystal” Garden, the exhibition was opened on June 10, while in Belgrade the opening ceremony will take place on June 14 in front of the gallery of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SASA). The event marks 140 years since establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and Serbia and 15 years since the start of cooperation between the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and SASA in the sphere of archeology.

The exhibition is organized in the framework of a Bulgarian-Serbian cross-border project for exploration and presentation of archaeological finds on the territory of the two countries, archaeologist Snezhana Goranova, curator of the exhibition in Bulgaria says. “Our desire is to be Photo:  Ivo Ivanovoutside of museum environment, i.e. archeology to come and meet the citizens, not just the active audience that would come to search for information in museums. We would like the residents of the two capital cities, who are now more often paying tourist visits, to see something from the past and learn more about our Balkan past, which has common features but there are also a lot of differences.”

The idea behind the joint exhibition belongs to the National Archaeological Institute with Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts. Which of the findings made by Serbian archaeologists are of interest to scientists in Bulgaria?

“In the Middle Ages and the period of the Ottoman rule, Belgrade was very different from Sofia,” Snezhana Goranova says. "Belgrade was on the border between the Ottoman and the European world and there were frequent changes of the authorities there. During this period the city was developing very rapidly and it was divided between these two worlds also when architecture is concerned. Along with this, Belgrade also has significant prehistoric architectural sites, such as the ancient Singidunum (the name of Belgrade during the Roman Age). In the exhibition we see the whole development from prehistory to modern history in both Belgrade and Sofia. Although the best periods were different in both cities, we have the opportunity for a good comparison. And the relationship between them is this millennial path known today as the diagonal road from Europe to Constantinople /Via Diagonalis/ in which today's Belgrade and Sofia have always been important points.”

In the center of Belgrade, a major project called "Beograd na vodi" has started. Have Serbian archaeologists already made new discoveries in this region?

“They are still at the beginning of their work and I hope they will have good results there. In the past year in one of the central Belgrade squares in front of the National Museum, the so-called ‘Württemberg Gate’ was discovered and probably remains of an earlier gate, dating back to antiquity.”

Speaking about scientific contacts between archaeologists from the two Balkan countries, Snezhana Goryanova says:

“Yes, we have had pretty good contacts, especially in the past 15 years. We are familiar with each other’s research work. During a conference of the Archaeological Society in Pirot they visited Sofia and were really impressed by rich archeological past of the city.”

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: BGNES

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