събота, 17 януари 2009 г.


© Boyan Tranteev, Vladimira Tranteeva-Miteva 2008


The medieval rock monasteries in Bulgaria were only exceptionally object of complex studies by a group of experts. Till now the extensive research of such archaeological objects was only incidental. Studies are mainly relevant to epigraphic material and mural painting fragments. This publication examines the known specialized information on rock monasteries and cells along the river Beli Lom between the village Senovo and the town Tzar Kaloyan. There are presented documents on 4 rock chapels and 55 rock cells, amended and interpreted by the author. Results of speleological expeditions in the seventies of 20th century under the guidance of P. Tranteev, speleologists and karsts examiner, are used as well as the results of the archaeological researches of the team of archaeologists A. Margos. In order to achieve a complete finished state of examinations in the region new maps of some objects were prepared. The maps and descriptions of the objects documented during the speleological expeditions were revised and amended. Signs of artificial work, detected inscriptions and rock engravings as well as a few archaeological findings were marked.
Chapter one contains a short typological characterization of the medieval rock compounds in Bulgaria and their structural elements according to their architectural signs. The basic terms used by the author at the description of the medieval “rock architecture” are laid down.
In chapter two the historical context of the rock monasteries existence in North-East Bulgaria is explained while trying a clarification of the grounds for the absence of a close church net in the Middle Ages and the initial centuries of Ottoman domination.
Chapter three contains a short review and analysis of the known publications on the rock monasteries along Beli Lom. There is also a short physical-geographical and geological-tectonic characterization as precondition for the existence of the rock monasteries.
In chapter four the particular objects of the karsts regions and the found epigraphic and archaeological materials are described.
The monastery complex “Church” nearby the town of Tzar Kaloyan (no. 103091) consisting of an one-nave chapel with a rectangular form of the naos and nartex in the north and two monk cells with asymmetric form is dated from the second half of the 14th century.
The “Torlashki monastery”(no. 103274) is located about 2,5 km south-eastern of the complex “Church”. The complexity of treated natural vesicles – one-nave chapel with well formed rectangular naos, asymmetric cell and two depots belongs typologically to the small rock monasteries. The results from the archaeological probings under the monastery and the paleographical analysis of the rock inscriptions from the complex show the small rock monastery was built in 13th -14th century.
On the right bank of the river Beli Lom, 2,5 km north-eastern of the “Church” in front of the “Torlashki monastery” is the monastery complex in the place “Diado Ivanova chuka”. The complex of a chapel and a monk cell is from 13th -14th century, and the neighbored monk cells (no. 1,103245 and 103248) are dated from the mid 14th century.
Three and a half kilometer away from the complex, in the place “Diado Ivanova chuka”, in the southern wall of the rock, four rock cells are located under the citadel Singrad.
On the left bank of the river Beli Lom, 1,5 km south-eastern from the citadel Singard in the rock-massif “Chakar kanara”, are hollowed out 7 rock dwelling cells (no. 103 076) in the place of natural niches. According to the rock inscriptions most probably in two of them (no. 103076 -6, 7) was functioning a rock “monastery school”. 500 m southern from the cells, in the massif “Chakar kanara”, place “In front of Chakar kanara”, two rock niches are located, most probably adapted for cells in the end of 14th century (no. 103077).
In the south-eastern of both cells in the massif “Chakar kanara”, on the left bank of the river Beli Lom, in the massif “Chesnova kanara” 4 rock niches were adapted for cells (no. 103078). The rock complex including the church destroyed in 1947 could be determined typologically as a small rock monastery from the beginning of 13th – 14th century.
Vestiges of additional work enable us to determine as cells the rock niches on the right bank of the river, north-eastern from the cell-complex “Monastery” in the three-section rock massif “Moustafa Chelebi kanara”, the seven rock niches northern from “Monastery” in the rock massif “Karanata”, as well as one niche in the rock massif “Sivri kanara”, south-eastern from the village of Senovo.
In the rock massif “Shanlak kanara”, in the south of the village of Senovo was located the rock monastery “St. Dimitry”, consisting of a chapel and ten monk cells. Some of the rock engravings, found there, are connected with the traditions of the early Bulgarian time, other have their analogy with the first centuries of the Ottoman domination. The exiguous archaeological finds from the complex belong to the 13th – 14th century. The paleographic analysis of the rock inscriptions from the complex chapel has shown that the main part comes from 13th-14th century.
The rock monasteries and complexes of monk cells along the river Beli Lom existed parallel with the neighbouring settlements from the time of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. Their location and their number are predetermined from the location of the particular massifs and the availability of natural short caves and niches.
The monk cells in the rock massifs “Chakar kanara”, “In front of Chakar kanara”, “Chesnova kanara”, “Mustafa chelebi kanara”, “Karanata”, “Sivri kanara” and under the citadel Singrad could be put in connection with the efflorescence of Hesychasmus by the end of 14th century. The cells around the monastery “St. Dimitry” near the village Senovo and the three cells in the place “Diado Ivanova chuka” can refer to the same time.
The medieval villages along the river Beli Lom were depopulated after the tragic end of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. In proximity of them the native population has founded other villages which are functioning till now. Despite of the centuries long Islamization and assimilative politics before the Liberation there are evidences in the fiscal registers proving that the villages Drenovetz, Torlak and Krivnia retained their Bulgarian character under the slavery. Some rock inscriptions are evidence of visits to the rock cells in the “Chakar kanara” massif near the village of Krivnia after the 15th century, and to the rock monastery near Senovo in 16th – 18th and in the 19th century.
The history of the rock monasteries and monk cells complexes along the middle course of the river Beli Lom is in integral connection to the historical and cultural evolution in 13th – 14th century.

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