The British archaeological expedition to the ancient emporium at Vetren-Pistiros, central Bulgaria

The project consists of preliminary geophysical prospection (1999-2001), a programme of limited excavation (30 sq metres), accompanied by faunal, organic, and metallurgical analyses (1999-2008), whose aim is to create a continuous, dated sequence of activities at the late Iron Age river port at Adjiyska Vodenitsa, near Vetren, plausibly identified with ancient Pistiros.

This abandoned site, inundated by the River Maritsa in the second century BCE, provides a unique opportunity to study the symptoms of economic and cultural exchange between southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean at a time when written documents and coined money were becoming adopted to build institutional mechanisms linking parties from different states and customary traditions of transaction.

The project provides a full monograph, as well as an electronic archive, of the British team's contribution to work conducted at the only systematically investigated complex settlement in the east Balkans from the pre-Roman Iron Age (5th - 2nd centuries BCE). Since 1988, approximately half of a 1.5ha terrace above the flood plain has been excavated by an international team. The Bulgarian and Czech teams have focused on excavating structures either side of the main east-west road, perpendicular to a substantial masonry gateway and fortification wall. The British team has concentrated on two areas, respectively north and south of the former, as well as investigating an area covering 8ha. beyond the terrace. The aim is to provide broader and more nuanced spatial and contextual information, alongside the preliminary data on architecture and finds published in two monographs (1996, 2002).

Principal investigator
Dr Zofia Halina Archibald
Principal project staff
Dr Zofia Halina Archibald
Start date
Saturday, May 1, 1999
Completion date
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Source material
Text files are based on field notebooks kept by Z. Archibald and M. Adams. Drawings, at scales 1:10 or 1:20, are digitised versions of original pencil or ink on permatrace. Hard copies of the original notebooks on which the reports are based, photographs, drawings, plans, and other data sets, also copied on CD Rom, are archived in fire proof accommodation in the School of Archaeology, Classics, and Egyptology (SACE), 12 Abercromby Square, University of Liverpool, and in the Liverpool Museum Field Unit, GWR Building, Mann Island, Liverpool L3 1DG. Copies of site notebooks, drawings, and photographs are also archived in Septemvri Archaeological Museum, Septemvri, Bulgaria. In addition to the principal project data, there is an archive of original pencil drawings in SACE. These consist mainly of ceramic finds, including selected finds from the British excavations, and imported Greek fine wares from Adjiyska Vodenitsa (1988-95), which have not yet been converted to digital format.

Bouzek, Jan, Domaradzka, Lidia, and Archibald, Zofia H., eds. Pistiros II: Excavations and Studies. Prague: Charles University, the Karolinum Press, 2002.

Archibald, Zofia H. "A River Port and Emporion in Central Bulgaria: an Interim Report on the British Project at Vetren." Annual of the British School at Athens 97 (2002) 309-51.

Archibald, Zofia H. "The Odrysian River Port near Vetren, Bulgaria, and the Pistiros Inscription." Talanta 32-33 (2000-2001) 253-75.

Archibald, Zofia H. "Space, hierarchy, and community in Archaic and Classical Macedonia, Thessaly, and Thrace." In Alternatives to Athens, edited by R. Brock and S. Hodkinson, 212-33. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Archibald, Zofia H. "Inland Thrace." In An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis, edited by M.H. Hansen and T.H. Nielsen, 885-99. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.