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In September 1944 Bulgaria was occupied by the Soviet army, and subsequently a Communist dictatorship was established in the country. During the following decades several hundred thousand Bulgarians who were considered enemies of the Communist regime were expelled from their homes and resettled across the country, or sent to labor camps and prisons, and many of them died or were killed. The Communist ideology and total party control ruled not only the everyday life of the Bulgarian people, but also the science and humanities. Many outstanding achievements in Bulgarian archaeology before World War II were neglected and even forbidden because of the Communist ideological control and censorship and the Soviet domination. The contacts with Western scholars and institutions were restricted and often forbidden, and only a few Bulgarian archaeologists
Bulgarians and the British fought each other for the first time during the First World War. But in the war there was also time for relaxation in the frontline theatres. Writing about the theatres on the Balkan front, H. Collinson Owen, Official Correspondent in the Near East, emphasized the tolerance of the Bulgarians, who were just a shot away: “All the Divisional theatres had the added spice that they were well within the enemy artillery range – they were, in fact, the most advanced of any war theatres – and the programme contained instructions as to scattering tactics in case of bombardment. But the Bulgar hardly ever tried to shoot at them, and this was one of the things put down to his credit” The Bulgarians at the
In the late 19th century, several local archaeological societies were founded in different Bulgarian towns and in 1901 the Bulgarian Archaeological Society was established, immediately becoming an important center of the archaeological studies that further strengthened the institutional backbone of the Bulgarian archaeology. After the liberation from the Ottoman Empire, there was a significant interest in the mediaeval archaeology of the First and the Second Bulgarian Kingdoms, given that the new Principality of Bulgaria was considered as their political successor. Thus, in the 1880s archaeological excavations were carried out in Veliko Tarnovo, the last mediaeval Bulgarian capital, and in 1899 – 1900 excavations in Pliska, the first mediaeval Bulgarian capital, were launched by Karel Škorpil. In that period the interest of the foreign scholars in the Bulgarian archaeology
Almost every year Bulgarian archaeologists are making sensational discoveries which attract the attention not only of most Bulgarians, but also of international scholars and the public worldwide. People usually know only about the recent archaeological endeavors in Bulgaria, so in several consecutive articles I will try to present the entire exciting history of archaeology in Bulgaria, from its early beginnings up to the present day. Many readers would be surprised to learn that the first excavations in the Bulgarian lands occurred in the late 16th and 17th centuries, when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire and long before the study of the classical world became an actual academic discipline distinct from early modern European antiquarianism. The earliest record was given by Reinhold Lubenau, a German pharmacist and traveler