<< Previous Page

Rasho Rashev

12th November 1943 - 28th February 2008

Appreciation by
Bisserka Gaydarska

In the most troublesome and turbulent times as far as the international reputation and professional image of Bulgarian archaeology is concerned, a calm, kind and fair-minded academic was elected as the Director of the National Archaeological Institute with Museum. In no time and with not much ado, the tension was defused, pompous, pretentious and unhelpful statements disappeared and the hope for getting back the good name of Bulgarian archaeology was becoming a reality. I firmly believe that we owe that to Professor Rasho Rashev, who died in a tragic train accident on 28 February 2008. Who was this man that managed to accomplish what his predecessors could not?

Born in a small provincial town in 1943 and growing up and being educated in communist Bulgaria, his personal and professional life may have seemed predestined and offer limited opportunities for free intellectual development. However, his honesty, hard work and increasing professional expertise slowly but firmly allowed Professor Rashev to become a leading authority in early medieval archaeology in Bulgaria. His main research interests were in the First Bulgarian Kingdom, covering the full complexity of the task to explain the origin and diaspora of the Proto-Bulgarians, the fortification and architecture of seventh to eleventh century AD Bulgaria, and the inter-relations of material culture, historical sources and chronicles of the early Bulgarian State. The project of his lifetime was the excavation, conservation, preservation and interpretation of the first Bulgarian capital - Pliska. His professional achievements are attested by the several monographs and over 150 articles that clearly speak for themselves.

Alongside Professor Rashev's employment in several county museums that let his research interests develop and thrive, over the years he also was teaching in three Bulgarian Universities and was an editor of several series on early medieval history and archaeology in Bulgaria. All of these provided him with the opportunity to disseminate his skills and experience.

For anyone not versed in Balkan archaeology, Professor Rashev's professional development - although bringing him a high profile - may seem not unique. But in a small country with a rich archaeological heritage, the varied yet changing constraints of political conditions and the unsettled nature of his professional guild, being true to yourself and still achieving high professional and moral standards was not an easy task. But that is precisely what the late Rasho Rashev managed to achieve! The academic who spent all his life studying the Early Bulgarians through archaeology naturally cared for the prestige and well-being of present-day Bulgarian archaeologists. Learning from the past, he tried to shape the future!

For his friends, he was proverbially honest, incorruptible and good-hearted - in short, a man of principles. For his colleagues and employees, he was extremely tolerant, tactful and polite, transparently benevolent, kind and positive, and above all a real professional.

He will be greatly missed!