Pliska - 100 years of archaeological excavations
R. Rashev, Ya. Dimitrov

III. The legacy of Pliska

    7. Necropolises

We would expect graves of the medieval rulers and their retinue to be found in every capital and its surroundings. This is not the case in Pliska – not a single such grave has been found so far. It was suggested that the ash layer at the top of mound XXXIII is probably due to a cremation of a ruler, but the excavator did not report any remains of burned human bones. The 20 clay vessels found there identify the mound as a commemorative monument. The location of the pagan necropolises of the populace is also unknown. The necropolises closest to Pliska – the one at the village of Vurbyane (1 km) and at Novi Pazar (4 km) belonged to villages situated close to the capital. It is unknown whether the necropolises of the capital were situated within the defended area or outside of it, like the devtashlarst. This is a question which has not been answered in the last 100 years.

Grave from the necropolis near the Eastern gate Burial artefacts from Proto-Bulgarian graves (after Zh. Vuzharova) (V.K. The items represent the whole of the country)
ZAladzhov, p. 67
The Christian necropolises has been studied in much greater detail. Not doubt, the most interesting among them is the necropolis next to the Palace Church. Whilst the church was functioning, the graves were put next to its apse as well as inside it. After its destruction, the necropolis continued to be used, with broken elements of its marble and stone architectural decoration being used in the construction of the grave chambers. A necropolis of the capital’s secular and ecclesiastical elite appeared next to the Large Basilica. Laymen appear to had been buried next to its apse. Prominent among them are grave No 27 with its golden woman’s addorments and the grave in sarcophagus No 4 and its golden belt decorations. Best studied is the necropolis next to the single-nave church at the eastern gate, where 198 graves have been excavated. Some of them contain relatively rich artefacts – adornments, crosses, metal appliqués for clothes. The necropolis dates to the time of the Byzantine rule – the end of the X c. to mid-XI c. During that period isolated areas along the inner face of the fortress walls were also used for burials. Single graves, no doubt belonging to Pechenegs, have been found there. Single graves from the latest stage of Pliska’s life are discovered around the Throne palace, on top of a small mound at the eastern entrance of the earthen ramparts, and at some devtashlars. Such graves, which were probably part of larger necropolises, also exist to the south-east and to the west of the Inner town. The graves on top of mound XXXIV are the core of the latter necropolis.