New finds at ancient Thracian burial mound

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A team of archaeologists has reported significant finds in a burial mound from the time of Roman Thrace near the Bulgarian village of Borissovo.

Archaeologist Daniela Agre, photographed in 2005 with Thracian artifacts found near Yambol [Credit: Julia Lazarova]

Findings in a tomb, estimated to date from the first and second centuries and believed to have been that of a wealthy noble, include a number of artifacts that archaeologists say were placed there to serve the occupant in the afterlife.

These include a very rare object from the time, a portable table, a stylishly decorated large circular plate, a special form of drinking vessel which archaeologists jokingly dubbed a champagne cup. The latter, according to archaeologist Daniela Agre of the National Archaeological Institute and Museum at the Bulgarian Academy of Science, has no equivalent among previous finds in the country. 

The team also found a decoration from a burial chariot, although previously illegal treasure hunters previously dug up and almost completely destroyed the chariot itself, according to a report by Bulgarian-language mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa. 

The chariot decoration includes four eagles whose wings intertwine with dragons’ heads. Each eagle’s head is different and overall decoration, which also includes other elements, served as the “face” of the vehicle. 

Other finds included small vessels into which the tears of the bereaved were put. 

Very close to the burial pit, the team found a large square altar, built from large stones and covered with four identical flat clay tiles, where food was left for the dead as part of the funeral rites. 

As quoted by 24 Chassa, Agre said that this find was exceptional. “We were aware of the practice but this is the first time, with the finding of the altar table, that we see it in a tomb from Roman Thrace”. 

Alongside was a pyre on which sacrificial animals were buried. This was strewn with bones, charcoal and broken pottery. 

The site is close by the place where in 2008 the same team found a unique chariot, the best-preserved such find of its kind, according to Agre. At the time, the team described it as “the Mercedes of antiquity”. 

Analysis of the contents of vessels found at the site found that they contained wine imported from as far away as southern Italy. 

She said that the site, where so far seven burial places with valuable artifacts have been found, may have been a family cemetery for a rich and influential family in the Thracian region. Nearby were three houses of wealthy landowners, Thracian aristocrats. 

Source: The Sofia Echo [September 12, 2011]

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