Archaeologists working at the Rusokastro fortification in Bulgaria have unveiled their latest find – a 14th century coin dated to the Byzantine period of Emperors Andronikos II and Andronikos III.
Described as having been split in half, the gold coin bears the image of the Virgin Mary and the walls of Constantinople with the other side showing the image of Jesus crowning the two emperors.
The Rusokastro fortress, the largest mediaeval fortress in southern Bulgaria, was intended as an impregnable border defence, built both in a strategic location and with complex systems of fortification, it has been speculated as having been inhabited ever since the time of the Thracians.
The village of Rusokastro is also known for its strong St. George legend, believing that the origins of the Saint lay in the village. it is said that the young George was a Shepard in the village who came upon a pear tree while tending his flock, discovering a baby in the scorching heat George proceeded to cover the baby’s face with a leaf to protect him. However, a wood nymph appeared and proclaimed the baby hers, slapping George with all her might. The nymph was convinced George was attacking her child until, with the voice of a man, the baby told her otherwise. The thankful nymph proceeded to breastfeed George two times, granting him the power to hurl a boulder over nine mountains to hit a tenth, and thus George the hero was born.
In 1332, Rusokastro was the scene of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander’s victory over the Byzantine army led by the aforementioned Emperor Andronicus III, the Bulgarian’s recovering their lost territory in Thrace and strengthening the position of their empire. The battle marked the last major engagement between Bulgaria and Byzantium before the fall of both empires to the Ottomans.
The discovery of the coin marks it the fourth to be found in the vicinity of Rusokastro. In 2017 archeologists at the site discovered a coin from the reign of the emperor Phocas who reigned as Byzantine emperor from 602 AD to 610 AD, dating the working of the “red fortress” back at least to the sixth century.
A fraction of the fortress has so far been excavated during digs organised by the Burgas Historical Museum and financed by Kameno Municipality and the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture with parts of the fortification wall, the citadel, a gate and an impressive staircase being uncovered so far.
Michael East is a writer with a wide variety of eclectic tastes including politics, history, archaeology, professional wrestling and British science-fiction. A former Students' Union President and newspaper editor, he has studied at a variety of institutions and graduated in both history and politics.
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