The archaeological site is in Varbovski Livadi, 5 km northwest of the modern town of Pavlikeni. The museum is part of the restoration and socialization project of the Ancient Ceramic Center, funded by the America for Bulgaria Foundation and the American Scientific Institute worth $ 51,000, of which $ 6,000 is co-funded by the Pavlikeni Municipality.
Exhibits related to the life of the ancient Romans are shown. Ceramic vessels, medical instruments, cosmetics, vials, some of them with stored powder of that time, toys, games for children and adults. A separate showcase collects all the gold and silver jewelry found in various necropolises throughout the Pavliken region.
One of the most valuable exhibits is the bust of Emperor Komod, who ruled the Roman Empire in the second half of the second century. The bust is unique because portraits of Roman emperors discovered during excavations on Bulgarian lands are extremely rare. He is the prototype of one of the most popular characters in the movie “Gladiator”, according to Ivan Tsarov, director of the Regional History Museum in Veliko Turnovo.
The Pavlikeni architectural complex was established at the end of the 1st century AD, even before the founding of Nikopolis ad Istrum after the Dacian wars of Emperor Traian. At that time, a military camp was built in Nova (under the present name of Svishtov), which housed the 1st Italian Legion. After retiring from military service, some of the soldiers return to their native places, but others remain in the region and settle in the fertile valley of the Rositsa River. This is probably how the villa near Pavlikeni appears, one of the many in the region. From here, important roads connect the province of Moesia (later Lower Moesia) with the rest of the vast Roman Empire. This fact is the reason for the presence of many road stations, settlements, villas, sanctuaries and craft centers.
What makes the Roman villa near Pavlikeni unique and one of a kind are the exposed, well preserved and exposed kilns for building and domestic ceramics. Over 50 furnaces have been researched, confirming the thesis that ceramic production was made here not only for the needs of the local population but also for the purpose of trade. Works by local ateliers have been discovered at the Nove Military Camp, in the administrative city center of Nicopolis ad Istrum, in many of the settlements of Lower Mizia and Thrace, in some of the cities of Dacia, even in the Crimean peninsula.
The Ancient Ceramic Center is the best-studied site in Southeastern Europe. Researcher Bogdan Sultov made it the first open-air museum in Bulgaria in the 1970s. It also restores the entire sequence of ancient ceramic production. Everything that is removed from the earth is then turned into an archaeologist by building materials, so the buildings in the center are now completely authentic. Sultov’s dream is to turn the center into a Scientific and Practical Base for the education of students and specialists in rural Roman ceramics.