Dracula's cannonballs likely found in Bulgarian fortress assault


EXCERPT: Archaeologists in Bulgaria are claiming to have uncovered stone cannonballs used during Vlad III Dracula’s assault on the historic Zishtova Fortress. The unusually cruel military commander—famously known as Vlad the Impaler—wrested the stronghold from the Ottoman Turks in 1461.

[...] An archaeological team led by Nikolay Ovcharov from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofzia are currently conducting excavations at the site and the area around it. In mid-May, the team stumbled upon some cannonballs dating back to the mid-15th century—a time that coincides with a siege of the fortress ... “What’s really interesting is that from the [early] Ottoman period we have found cannonballs,” said Ovcharov at a press conference held in late May, reported by Archaeology in Bulgaria. “We rejoice at those small cannonballs because they are from culverins. These were the earliest cannons which were [in use during the] 15th century, up until the 16th century, [but] they weren’t in use after that. These were still very imperfect cannons. That was precisely the time of Vlad Dracula, there is no doubt that they are connected with the siege [and conquest of the Zishtova Fortress] by Vlad Dracula in 1461,” he said.

[...] It was during the winter of 1461-1462 that Dracula’s forces managed to capture—and for a brief time hold—Zishtova Fortress. “[We] have a letter by Vlad Dracula to the King of Hungary, in which he boasted that he had taken [the fort] after a fierce battle, and that about 410 Turks were killed during the siege,” said Ovcharov. “Some of them were probably impaled, in his style.” Dracula likely lived in the castle for a few months afterward, as he apparently didn’t immediately return to Wallachia north of the Danube, added Ovcharov. (MORE - details)

RELATED (several images): . . . He [Ovcharov] says he has even looked into local legends that Vlad Dracula even had a child with a local woman after he conquered Svishtov in 1461 – 1462 but those have turned to be “the results of modern-day interpretations". “The truth is that Vlad Dracula besieged this place, conquered it, and most probably also resided here [briefly]," Ovcharov concludes, while commenting further on the legends about Vlad the Impaler.

“Dracula, Vlad Tsepesh, was not a vampire at all, of course. He was one of the most meticulous fighters against the Ottoman invasion. He was cruel but, at the end of the day, that was the Middle Ages, and he was allowed those things. All the vampire stories date from the time of Bram Stoker’s books onwards," he adds, referring to Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula", which created the popular culture image of the world’s best known “vampire".

[...] Another intriguing find from the excavations of the ruins of the Zishtova Fortress is a partially preserved inscription mentioning one of the cohorts of the Roman Empire’s First Italian Legion (Legio I Italica), which was quartered at Novae – a major Ancient Roman military camp and city right outside of today’s town of Svishtov from the 1st century AD until the 4th century AD. [...] “We have a partially preserved inscription from the 4th century AD, from the Roman period, about a cohort from the First Italian Legion," Ovcharov explains, revealing that the partially preserved inscription reads only “COR", the abbreviation for “cohort". “Our hypothesis is that this is from the last period of the Roman presence in this region. We know that they had been quartered at Novae, but towards the 4th – 5th century AD, as a result of the barbarian invasions, it became indefensible, it was abandoned, and the Late Antiquity fortress [that predated the Zishtova Fortress] was built here," he elaborates...

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