Dimum

Name:According to V. Beshevliev, the name is of local, Thracian origin. Whether the name Kuntodemou (Κυντοδήμου) refers to a fortress in proximity to Dimum is not determined with certainty. the latter is translated as “the fifth miliar pillar from Dimum” or the Quintus Dimum, i.e. the settlement of a man, named Quintus.

Written sources: Dimum mentioned for the first time in the Roman road map - itinerarium, composed by Claudius Ptolemy around the middle of the 2nd century, as Dimon (Διμόν). Under the name of Dimo (Dimo) it is presented in other road maps – Tabula Peutingeriana and Itinerarium Antonini, which reflect the geographical reality in the time of emperors Augustus and Caracalla. There, along with the name of the fort, there are also indicated distances in Roman miles to the forts of Oescus/Securisca and Novae. For the last time Dimum is mentioned in the Anonymous Ravenna Cosmography as Dimon (Dimon). Only in the work of Procopius of Caesarea “On the Buildings” is mentioned the name of Kuntodemou (Κυντοδήμου), which according to our researchers refer to a fort located in proximity to Dimum.

Location: Dimum is located on the Danube riverbank, underneath the contemporary town of Belene, nearby the “Vasil Levski” school, on a hill called Hisar or Gradishte. According to Dimitrina Mitova-Dzhonova, Dimum was flanked by two forts in eastern and western direction. The new field excavations refute this statement. It is located 110 km to the west from the town of Rousse.

History of the research: The fort is localized on the base of field research work by Karel Skorpil in 1905. He gave a short description and a plan. As early as 1989-1990 were conducted the first archaeological excavations by Dimitrina Mitova-Dzhonova. As result, sections of the fortification system of the fort were unearthed. It was determined that the entire northern section of Dimum has been taken away by the Danube.

Excavations were renewed in 2007 and continue without interruptions until today. In 2007, under the management of Sonya Lazarova (Pleven Museum of Military History), were initiated new studies in the center of the fort, where until 2015 was revealed the plan of a large building, according to the researchers – the Principia of Dimum. The studied area is around 600 m2. In 2009 following a project for restoration and exhibition, excavations were conducted on the southern tower, directed by Vladimir Naydenov (Pleven Regional Museum of History). Along another project in 2011, directed by Gergana Kabakchieva (National Institute of Archaeology with Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Science, Sofia), were restored and exhibited the sections of the fortification walls and towers, unearthed in 1989-1990.

Revealed structures: In 1989-1990 were excavated two section of the fortification. Around 60 m of the western fortification wall were examined, along with the southern rectangular tower of the western gate. From the southern wall were studied around 50 m, together with a U-shaped tower. It is presumed that at the southeastern corner of the fort is located a fan-shaped tower. During the trench excavations, conducted in 2011, it was determined only that there is an earlier fortification wall, which is underneath the revealed sections form the Roman period. On the base of these two sections, a hypothetical reconstruction of the fort is implemented.

In 2007-2015 was revealed a building with rectangular shape and dimensions of 31 m to 20.70 m. It is interpreted as the Principia of Dimum, but this will be determined after the complete excavation of the construction. Its dating is within the 4th-6th century. In 2014 it was determined that the building steps on an earlier layer and probably a building from Roman times. During the excavations were also revealed parts of housing from the Middle Ages, as well as frame-built constructions from the 18th-19th century.  

Finds and chronology: During accidental excavation works in the second half of the 20th century in Belene were revealed structures (pits) of the Late Hellenistic and the Early Roman periods. Judging by the revealed finds (mainly pottery), probably here during the pre-Roman period was located an important commercial center (emporion).

During the Early Roman period, the settlement was a customs and fleet station. To the Early Roman period also belongs the first fortification wall (constructed in the Claudian-Nero period). It is testified during the excavations in 2011 and 2013. Within its context were revealed coins and other finds (imported pottery – terra sigillata) of the 1st and the 2nd century AD. The subsequent wall follows strictly the trace of the earlier one. So far no other structures of the Early Roman period are studied.

In total, the coins discovered during the excavations are over 200. The largest section of them is from the 4th-6th century period. They are synchronous to the second phase of the fortification of the fort, or the second fortification wall. The last coins in chronology belong to Justin II and Sophia.

The following levels belong to the 10th-11th century (dated by coins) – they are remains of several residences. Over the latest there are remains of houses from the 18th-19th century. At this stage of research, the predominant among the pottery and the other small finds are those of the last two described layers. It is still not determined what were the reasons for the construction of a new fortification wall over the old one, as well as the time when this took place.