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Journal of the Union of Scientists - Varna. The Cultural Heritage of Varna and the Black Sea Region

The Golden Age in the cultural heritage of Varna

Veselin Trakiyski


In 1852, the book `ВѢКЪ БОЛГAРСКAГО ЦAРЯ СИМЕОНA` (`The Age of the
Bulgarian Tsar Simeon`) written by the Bulgarian author and historian Spiridon Nikolaevich Palauzov was published by the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St. Petersburg. The book is concerned with two main topics: the reign of Simeon, and the state of literature at the end of the 9th and beginning of the 10th century. His description of the latter represents a summarization of works written during the first half of the 19th century by Russian and Czech authors mentioning Bulgarians, wherein are described the work of Saints Cyril and Methodius, together with their students and followers, to create the Bulgarian alphabet, the translation and writing of Orthodox Christian literature, and its spread to the countries which at that
time were neighboring the First Bulgarian Empire.

In 1851, the popular Russian statesman and historiographer Prince Mikhail Andreyevich Obolensky, published `Летописецъ Переславля-Суздальского` (`The Pereyaslavlya Suzdalskogo Chronicle`) , followed by his most significant work, `Нѣсколько слов о первоначальной русской лѣтописи` (`A few words on early Russian chronicles`), subsequent additions to which were published posthumously in 1875 by his daughter, the Princess Anna Hilkova, in her book `Изслѣдования и заметки княза М. A. Оболенскаго по русскимъ и славянскимъ древностямъ ( Приложенiя къ сочиненiю его: „ОПЕРВОНAЧAЛЬНОЙ РУССКОЙ ЛѢТОПИСИ`. Москва, 1870 г. и др. статьи)` (`Obolensky`s notes and findings on Russian and Slavonic antiquity`). In these books, Prince Obolensky proves, referring to the only surviving copy of `Летописецъ Переславля-Суздальского`, that the books and
manuscripts brought to Kievan Rus` in the 10th century are in the Old Bulgarian language and number 807 in total, as detailed in the 25-page table of contents found in the 540-page chronicle. On the 5th page, in 7th place, is described the role of the presbyter Gregorius in translating the Bible and parts of the New Testament from Greek to Old Bulgarian, at the request of Tsar Simeon, the son of Boris.

A more detailed account of Gregorius` role in bringing the aforementioned books to Kievan Rus` and his role in Russian literacy is described in Hilkova`s book, which also details subsequent chronicles from around Russian lands in which those texts appear or are mentioned.

In 1921, the brothers Karel and Hermann Škorpil, after surveying the southern slope of the Frangensko plateau northwest of Varna city, discover remnants of a large monastery, whose benefactor was the ruler Boris-Mikhail. Excavations at the site, which were most intensive after 1995, revealed that is was built during the 9th century, and operated during the 10th and 11th centuries. Its structure included a special scriptorium, a two-story building with an area of approx. 400 sq.m. Evidence indicated that inside it books were written, illuminated and bound. This is one of the oldest such buildings discovered to date, possibly the only one at that time. The monastery was destroyed during the 12th century in a landslide, and remained undiscovered until 1921.

To date, investigations conducted in Russia have conclusively proven that the books brought there during the 9th and 10th centuries are exclusively from the so-called Preslav Literary School. Contrary to common practice at the time, the books were not signed by any authors, translators or scribes. Other findings and circumstances are described, which support the conclusion that this large number of texts originated from the Varna scriptorium.


Golden Age, scriptorium, letters, Old Bulgarian (Old Slavonic) language, books, monastery, Cyril, Methodius, followers, students, Boris, Simeon, Peter, Presbyter Gregorius, Prince M Obolensky, Kievan Rus`

Full Text


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