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Ancient Roman ‘refrigerator’ discovered in military barrack with preserved bones

A Roman-constructed food storage container that served as a primitive refrigerator for traveling soldiers was recently discovered in Bulgaria by Polish archeologists.

Lead archeologist, Piotr Dyczek, a professor at the University of Warsaw Antiquity of Southeastern Europe Research Centre, uncovered the ancient fridge at an excavation site located near the town of Svishtov, according to a report from Science in Poland – a science news outlet run by the Polish Press Agency.

The excavation site was Novae – a legionary fortress of the Roman Empire that was built in northern Bulgaria on the Danube River.

Archeologists excavated the fridge from the fortress’s Sector XII on Friday, Oct. 7, a site photo shows, according to FOX 11 Los Angeles.

Inside the fridge, Dyczek and his team reportedly found ceramic plates, dish fragments and animal bones.

The archeologists examined the “preserved bone fragments” and found “traces of thermal treatment,” which likely means the meat stored in the fridge was baked, according to Science in Poland.

Other artifacts the team found were coins, wall strings, quern-stones, weaving and fishing weights, spindle whorls, pits with bone and vessel fragments, charcoal particles, a bowl fragment and an incense container that may have been used to repel insects, the science outlet reported.

Remains of walls and columns from a Roman fortress stand in Novae, Bulgaria.
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The ancient refrigerator reportedly stands out because the storage containers rarely survive building reconstructions, Dyczek told Science in Poland.

Historic records show Roman soldiers were stationed at Novae from the first century A.D. until the mid-fifth century A.D.

“At that time, Novae was slowly transforming into a civilian city,” said Dyczek, in a statement. “Also thanks to the latest finds, we obtained enough data to be able to recreate that part of the history of this ancient settlement, which until now was shrouded in mystery.”

Ruins of an ancient fortress remain in Novae, Bulgaria.
Ruins of an ancient fortress remain in Novae, Bulgaria.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The ancient Roman fridge is one of many discoveries Polish archeologists have made in Novae.

Researchers have found fragments of ceramic and lead pipe water supply systems in the area that might’ve been used for thermal baths, Science in Poland reported.

An approximate 6.2-mile aqueduct and two large water tanks are believed to have provided the Bulgarian-based Roman army uninterrupted access to water.

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