The establishment and operation of the Department of Ancient and Medieval History is an integral part of the past and the present of the Faculty of History. Its origin dates back to with the opening of the academic specialty History in September 1963 at the then Pedagogical Institute. In these early years, a Department of History was established. The first head of the department in 1963-1965 was prof. Alexander Burmov (the first Rector, and a founder of the University). The first members of the department were brilliant researchers such as professor Hristo Danov (Ancient History), Stancho Stanchev (Vaklinov) – an associate professor in Archeology, as well as their young fellows and assistants –Yanka Nikolova, Valo Valov, Margarita Tacheva, and Hristo Kolarov.
Associated Professor Velizar Velkov was replaced by Hristo Danov as the holder of the academic course History of the Ancient World in 1964. In 1964 in place of associate professor Velizar Velkov was elected professor Danov as the leader of the course. At the same time, associate professor Vladimir Popov (future rector of VTU in 1990-1994) started his academic career in the department. Assistant Professor Zlatozara Gocheva joined the department as a lecturer in Archeology. As a specialist in classical philology, she also taught History and Latin to students at the faculty. Next, Assoc. Prof. Borislav Primov headed the academic course in General Medieval History in 1967. In the same year, after competitions for positions of assistant professor, Georgi Parvev and Yordan Andreev joined the Department of History.
The first two independent faculties in the Veliko Tarnovo Alma Mater were established in 1968 - the Faculty of History and the Faculty of Philology. The Department of History was divided into two separate units in April 1968 – Ancient and Medieval History and Modern and Contemporary History. Thus started the history of the Department of Ancient and Medieval History. The first dean of the Faculty of History was associate professor Lyuben Belmustakov and senior assistant Yanka Nikolova was appointed vice dean by the Academic Council. In 1974 the young and ambitious leader of the academic course Medieval Bulgarian History – associate professor Hristo Kolarov – took over the management of the Faculty of history. Unfortunately, he died prematurely in a car accident in 1978.
Over the years, the Department of Ancient and Medieval History gained authority and attracted new highly-qualified staff. Among the new assistants in the 1970s were Todor Ovcharov, Magda Bogdanova (Hristodulova), Stoyan Bogdanov, Nikolay Kolev and others. In 1980 Yordan Andreev defended a habilitation, and a little later Ivan Lazarov joined the teaching staff of the department as an assistant professor in Medieval Bulgarian history. In 1981, after a competition for the position of assistant professor in Ancient History, Ivan Todorov entered the department. He took the position of an associate professor in 1991 and a professor of Ancient History and Thracology in 2013.
In 1984 Ivan Tyutyundzhiev (History of the Bulgarian lands in the period 15th-17th century) and Plamen Pavlov (Byzantine History) started their research careers at the university and in 1988 Kiril Petkov joined the department as an assistant in Medieval Bulgarian history. He continued his carrier abroad after 1994 and is currently a professor of Mediterranean and Western European History at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (USA).
In 1986 and 1987 respectively, Kalin Todorov and Nadezhda Hristova joined the department as assistants in General Medieval History. After competitions in 1988 and 1989, Stella Moneva (Ancient History) and Krassimira Mutafova (History of the Bulgarian Lands in the 15th -17th centuries) joined the department. In 1987, Stefan Yordanov joined the Department as a Ph.D. student, and after defending his thesis in 1991, he established himself as a scientist with broad research interests. Ivelin Ivanov (currently a professor of General Medieval History), and Dimitar Dimitrov (currently an associate professor in Byzantine History and Medieval History of the Balkan Peoples), joined the department as assistant professors in 1993 and 1994. In 1999, Momchil Mladenov joined the department as an assistant professor in Medieval Bulgarian History, defending his doctorate in 2011 and establishing himself as an excellent teacher and researcher of the Second Bulgarian Tsardom.
After the death of associate professor Borislav Primov, associate professor Georgi Parvev and associate professor Stoyan Bogdanov, the lectures on the academic course in General Medieval History were read by Assoc. Prof. Nadezhda Hristova and Prof. Ivelin Ivanov. In 2011 Nikolay Kanev entered the department as an assistant professor. He defended the title of associate professor in 2015, leading lectures and seminars in Byzantine History, Medieval History of the Balkan People, and General Medieval History. In the middle of the 1980s, a new academic discipline was established in the department and the Faculty of History - History of the Bulgarian lands in 15th -17th cc. The first leader as a visiting professor was Tsvetana Georgieva, and since 1990 the lecture courses had been taken over by prof. Ivan Tyutyundzhiev and prof. Krassimira Mutafova. In September 2010, the team of the Department and the Collegium of History of the Bulgarian Lands in the period XV-XVII century was joined by Dr. Gergana Georgieva, who has been an associate professor since 2014.
Among the most significant professor at the department and the faculty was Prof. Yordan Andreev, who won high prestige among the students as the leader of "Club-1300", established in 1971. Among the activities of the academic club, special time was devoted to field expeditions in search of medieval epigraphic monuments from contemporary Bulgarian lands. Apart from Prof. Andreev, among the prominent heads of the Department in the presented period were academic researchers such as Assoc. Prof. Georgi Parvev, Prof. Ivan Tyutyundzhiev, and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Stoyan Bogdanov.
The current composition of the department was formed in 2007 when the Department of Ancient History and Ethnology was transformed and teachers in Ancient History and Thracology were integrated with the Department of Medieval History in a new department - Department of Ancient and Medieval History headed by assoc. prof. Ivan Lazarov. He headed this new team of the Department for almost thirteen years - until his retirement in 2019. Then the management of the department was taken over by prof. Plamen Pavlov, who temporarily held this position until the academic elections in May-June 2019. Nowadays, the head of the department is Prof. Ivelin Ivanov who was elected in June 2019.
Last but not least, a significant contribution to the activities of the department have its secretaries, among which should be mentioned the names of Ralitsa Katserkova (2000-2017), Dr. Pavlin Atanasov (2017-2020), and Pepa Valchanova (from the beginning of 2021 г.)
Currently, the Department of Ancient and Medieval History is the second-largest structural unit in the Faculty of History. It carries out the teaching, training, and research work of BA, MA, and Ph.D. students in the following disciplines:
History of the Ancient World;
Medieval Bulgarian history;
History of the Bulgarian lands in 15th-17th centuries;
History of Byzantium;
Medieval History of the Balkan Peoples
General Medieval history.
At the beginning of 2021, the Department of Ancient and Medieval History has 10 full-time and 2 part-time lecturers.