A new highway that will connect Sofia in Bulgaria with Thessaloniki in Greece poses a threat to the ruins of an ancient city, possibly part of the Roman settlement of Skaptopara.
The site of some 60,000 square meters site is among the largest archeological sites in Bulgaria.
However, it is standing in the way of a long-delayed highway running through the picturesque Kresna gorge in southwestern Bulgaria, near Blagoevgrad.
The remains, which archaeologists believe are part of the Roman city, date back to Thracian times.
Recent discoveries and the size of the place point to a conclusion that this is far more than an ancient necropolis or a tomb, many of which have been found in the region.
Apart from a well-preserved Roman-era tomb and many building walls, nine months of excavations have yielded more than 2,000 valuable finds, including coins, pottery and vessels.
The future of the archaeological site, first discovered in 1973, is contested between state institutions, which are rushing through the excavations, seeking to unearth and preserve the moveable historical objects of interest, and a citizens’ committee that wants to see the architectural remains fully preserved in an open museum, and the highway rerouted around the settlement.
“Some people are not happy with our actions, but all signs show that we are headed towards the destruction [of the site],” Kalin Anastasov, a Blagoevgrad activist seeking preservation of the complex, said.