An international archaeological expedition is seeking EU funding in order to search for the grave of Trajan Decius, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire to die in battle, namely, the 251 AD Battle of Abritus near today’s city of Razgrad in Northeast Bulgaria.
Both Roman Emperor Trajan Decius (r. 249-251 AD) and his co-emperor and son Herennius Etruscus (r. 251 AD) were killed in what was one of the greatest battles of the Late Antiquity when their forces tried to stop the barbarian invasion of the Goths near Abritus (today’s Razgrad), a major city and fortress in the Roman province of Moesia Inferior.
The precise site of the Battle of Abritus was identified only recently, in 2016, by Bulgarian archaeologists near today’s town of Dryanovets.
In 250 AD, about 70,000 Goths led by Gothic chieftain Cniva invaded the Roman Empire by crossing the Danube at Novae. They were initially halted by Emperor Trajan Decius at Nicopolis ad Istrum (today’s Nikyup) but then went on to raid a number of Roman cities reaching as far south as Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv) which was ransacked.
Anecdotal traces from the Goths’ massive invasion of the Roman Empire were found in Philipopolis (Plovdiv) during rescue excavations in 2018.
Upon returning retreated north, from Thrace into Moesia, the Goths were met by the forces of Emperor Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus but completely defeated them.
The proposed international archaeological expedition to seek the grave of Roman Emperor Trajan Decius near ancient Abritus would include archaeologists from Bulgaria and Austria.
The Bulgarian participants would be from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski", and the Razgrad Regional Museum of History, the Razgrad Museum has revealed, as cited by local news site Kmeta.
The research project will apply for EU funding from the European Union’s new seven-year financial framework (for 2021 – 2027).
Experts from the Razgrad Museum are quoted as saying that the resting place of the first Roman Emperor to die in battle could be a tourist site of global interest. It remains to be seen whether the archaeological project in question would be approved for EU funding.
Abritus, whose ruins are located near the city of Razgrad in Northeast Bulgaria, first emerged as an Ancient Thracian settlement established no later than the 5th century BC. It saw its height as a Roman and later Byzantine city in the Late Antiquity.
The Abritus Archaeological Preserve was established by the Bulgarian government in 1984 on a territory of about 1,000 decares (app. 250 acres) including monuments from Ancient Thrace, Ancient Rome, and the medieval Bulgarian Empire.
In 2014, Razgrad Municipality carried out partial archaeological conservation and restoration of the Ancient Roman city Abritus, a project worth BGN 6.2 million (app. EUR 3.17 million) most of which was EU funding. However, much of the vast area of Abritus remains unexplored.
The battleground of the Battle of Abritus from 251 AD, in which the Romans were routed by the invading Goths, is located about 15 kilometers northwest of today’s Razgrad and the Abrtus ruins, in the valley of the Beli Lom River.
Regardless of its robust defenses, however, the Late Antiquity Roman city of Abritus was conquered and ransacked several times by barbarian tribes, including by the Goths in 251 AD, and in 376-378 AD, the Huns of Attila in 447 AD, and the Avars and Slavs in 586 AD.
After the deaths of Trajan Decius and Herennius Etruscus in 251 AD at the hands of the Goths near Abritus, the next Roman Emperor to die in battle was Valens, who was also killed by the Goths by in the Battle of Adrianople in 378 AD.
After Valens, the next Roman Emperor to perish in battle was already an Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium). Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus I (r. 802-811) was killed in the Battle of the Varbitsa Pass (Battle of Pliska) in 811 AD by the forces of Khan Krum of the First Bulgarian Empire.
Not unlike the case with Trajan Decius and his son Herennius Etruscus 460 years earlier, Nicephorus I’s son and successor to the throne Emperor Stauracius also perish because of the same battle : he died two months later of the wounds he had sustained.
Sources : http://archaeologyinbulgaria.com