The oldest traces of habitation on the territory of today’s city of Plovdiv are several Neolithic settlements of VI millennium BC, in Yasa Tepe (Yasa hill), near the neighborhood Lauta. The earliest known settlement near the Three Hills is revealed to be at Nebet Tepe (Nebet hill). It occured during the Bronze Age (II millennium BC) and is inhabited continuously since then until today, so it is considered the initial phase of development of the city. During the Iron Age the settlement of Nebet tepe is a fortified point of the Thracian people Besi and in the V century BC was included in the Odrysian kingdom.

In 342 BC the village was conquered by the Macedonian king Philip II, who gave him his name – Philipopolis – used in different variations today. At that time, the city was surrounded by strong walls, but till 320 years BC the Odrysian kingdom restored their independence. During the Macedonian government and in the ensuing Hellenistic era Philipopolis was turned into a city and one of the important centers of Thrace.

III-I century BC in a period of political instability in Thrace – Odrysian kings depend on the Roman Republic, often bursting into strife and mass uprisings. In 183 years BC Philipopol was conquered by the Macedonian king Philip V, but a little later Odrisses restore their city. In 72 BC the city was conquered briefly by the Roman general Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus during his march against the Bessi Thracians but soon they recovered their power over the city. At the beginning of the I century, Thracian rebels besieged Philippopolis supported by the Roman king Remetalk II.

Filipopolis’ final fall to the Roman Empire was with the creation of the province of Thrace in 46. In Roman times, the city became an important point on the road Via Militaris, connecting Singidunum with Byzantium. Here paths crossed paths leading to Eskus near the Danube limes and in Nicopolis ad Nestrum to other major road in the Balkans – Via Egnatia. As the main city (metropolis) of the province in the city was the seat of the Thracian Union (Κοινόν των Θρακων), whose members represented various cities.

According to widespread belief, the city received the title of a metropolis in the reign of Emperor Septimius Severus, but there are some opinions that this happened early in the reign of Trajan.

During the Roman period in Philipopol a lot of public buildings, treasury, temples, baths, bulevteriona (Odeon), theaters, large stadiums were built. With the expansion the city left the outlines of the Three Hills and spreads in the valley, the old fortifications were rebuilt and in 172 the emperor Marcus Aurelius ordered a second wall to cover the expanded city. Trimontsium had a major water supply system, including reservoirs, tanks, pipelines and two aqueducts, the only such facilities in Bulgaria today. Excavations in today’s modern city is only a small part of the ancient past found at the Old Town.

In year 250, the first major invasion of the Goths in the Balkan Peninsula, they succeeded to besiege Philipopol protected by the Roman commander Priscus. Attempts by Emperor Trajan Decius to help are unsuccessful especially after the defeat of his army at Beroe so the city was conquered, perhaps with the assistance of Priscus himself. The town is completely destroyed by fire, many of its inhabitants, Ammianus Marcellinus 100,000 people were killed and others were taken prisoner.

After the burning, the city shrunk within the city walls and peripheral neighborhoods were abandoned.

To be continued…  

— source: Ancient stadium Plovdiv