Archaeologists have found a marble slab, dating from the end of the second century CE, during excavations at the Roman Forum site in Bulgaria’s second city Plovdiv.
Representing part of an imperial letter, the text is believed to refer to a fine imposed on Philippopolis – the ancient name of Plovdiv – by Emperor Septimius Sever for having supported his rival to the throne, Pescennius Niger.
Septimius Sever was Roman emperor from 193 to 211, having seized power after the death of Emperor Pertinax in 193 during the Year of the Five Emperors. Pescennius Niger was defeated in 194 at the Battle of Issus in Cilicia.
The inscription on the marble slab found at the site in Plovdiv was deciphered by graphologist Nikolay Sharankov.
Sharankov told Radio Plovdiv that the eight lines on the slab were the end of the letter, of which the beginning was missing. The name of the emperor was missing but by the form of the letters and content, it could be deduced that the emperor was Septimius Severus.
The inscription says that the fine for Philippopolis should be paid by one of its prominent citizens, who had previously borne the expenses of the city.
The find was made on a part of the square that until recently was fenced off and marked as private property, as part of a long-standing dispute over the price to be paid for it. Plovdiv municipality’s purchase of the small plot enabled archaeological work to go ahead.
The site, adjoining Plovdiv’s Central Square, contained a number of public buildings in ancient Roman times, including the Odeon, a library and the treasury.
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