Friday, June 19, 2009

Fragments of Medieval Manuscript Found in Veliko Turnovo

From the Bulgarian News Agency: Two fragments from the upper left corner of a gilded encasing and a massive bronze clasp from a medieval manuscript have been excavated at the Sts Peter and Paul Church in Veliko Turnovo, according to Prof. Nikolai Ovacharov, who is head of the expedition.

Early analysis shows that the finds date from the 14th or the first half of the 15th century. The gilded silver encasing bears an image of Archangel Michael and inscriptions in Greek. The encasing had been fine-crafted by hand.

The bronze clasp, which was found next to the encasing, may have come from an 80 cm by 100 cm manuscript. According to Ovcharov, the unique finds support accounts from the age of the Revival that a hidden compartment with medieval manuscripts had been found at the metropolitan Sts Peter and Paul Church during repair works.

Ovcharov cited works by Revival luminaries G.S. Rakovski, P. R. Slaveikov, Yuriy Venelin and Marin Drinov, which state that the manuscripts in question may have belonged to the library of Patriarch Evtimiy or may have been from the time of Tsar Ivan Shishman (second half of the 14th century).

Peter Farashev of Elena, who used to be a servant at the metropolitan church, wrote in his memoirs that in 1825 on the order of Metropolitan Ilarion of Crete some of the manuscripts were burned in the kitchen furnace to make rose brandy, and others were buried in the church yard.

The burning of manuscripts was not uncommon at the time, Ovcharov said. The Four Gospels of Ivan Alexander were rescued from a fire at Mount Athos by Lord Curzon, where monks would burn manuscripts to keep warm.