A team of Bulgarian archaeologists led by Professor Nikolay Ovcharov has made unique excavation discoveries from the pinnacle of the Second Bulgarian Empire.
In the yard of the St Peter and St. Paul Church in the medieval Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo, Ovcharov and his team found part of a wall and medieval coins within it that are dated from 1210 to 1240.
Ovcharov believes that this was part of the Monastery of the Bulgarian Patriarch in the 13th century. This was the time of the Bulgarian Tsars Kaloyan (1197-1207), Boril (1207-1218), and Ivan Asen II (1218-1241).
The monastery is believed to have been the center of the Tarnovo Patriarchate at the time of the Union of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church with the Catholic Church in the Vatican that latest from 1204, when Pope Innocent III declared Kaloyan "Emperors of Wallachians and Bulgarians" ("Rex Wallahorum et Bulgarorum"), until 1246.
The monastery was reconstructed after Veliko Tarnovo's conquest by the Ottoman Turkish Empire in 1393, later hosted the Tarnovo Bishop. Its remains were fully destroyed in 1913 by an earthquake.
The team of archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov also found a 30-gram silver ring with a figure of lilies (fleur-de-lis) during their excavations in the church yard.
Ovcharov is 100% sure that the ring originated in medieval France since its decoration with enamel is typical of the French goldsmiths, and the fleur-de-lis (lilies) were the sign of the French rulers.
"I don't claim that the ring began to a king but it certainly was worn by a notable. Whether the notable buried there was a French or a Bulgarian notable, we cannot say for sure but we are certain that at that time the Bulgarian high-life was already influenced by French "fashion" and style of clothing and jewelry that was brought by the Crusades", Professor Ovcharov said.
His team has also discovered a number of other items that include two more rings, one of which has an inscription dated back to the beginning of the 15th century with the name "Simonis" or "Simeonis", and a silver gold-coated earring from the beginning of the 13th century, and a female belt.