Small looted Thracian tholos tomb excavated in Bulgaria


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A Hellenistic era Thracian tomb has been found by archaeologists near the town of Rozovo near the town of Kazanlak, in the Stara Zagora District.

Small looted Thracian tholos tomb excavated in Bulgaria
The entrance of the newly unearthed Ancient Thracian tomb near Rozovo, Kazanlak Municipality, 
in Central Bulgaria, which has turned out to be Bulgaria’s smallest Thracian brick tomb 
[Credit: Kazanlak Museum of History]

The tomb, which is said to be the smallest ancient Thracian brick tomb ever excavated in Bulgaria, is a beehive (Greek tholos or “domed”) type with a burial chamber and a small antechamber. It dates to the first half of the 3rd century BC.

Unfortunately the Rozovo tomb, like many other Thracian burial mounds and tombs, had been fully looted by modern-day treasure hunters.

Small looted Thracian tholos tomb excavated in Bulgaria
Damage in the walls of the Rozovo Tomb caused by treasure hunters who wiped clean the 
Ancient Thracian funeral inventory in 2010 [Credit: Kazanlak Museum of History]

The Kazanlak Valley in Central Bulgaria, also known as the Rose Valley, is particularly rich in terms of the number of ancient Thracian burial mounds and tombs found there (with an estimated 1,500 mounds, of which some 300 have been explored), and has become known as the Valley of Odrysian Thracian Kings, as it was the power centre of the Odrysian Kingdom (5th century BC – 1st century AD).

“It is curious that the treasure hunters’ digs were illogical and even a little., says lead archaeologist Georgi Nehrizov. “One of them was outside the burial chamber, and exposed its outer wall, which is totally pointless. Another dig came from the west, reached the burial chamber, and pierced its wall, which is also totally useless, destroying part of the dome room.”

Small looted Thracian tholos tomb excavated in Bulgaria
A view from the inside of the surviving “dome” of the Rozovo Tomb, which was 
completed with a stone slab on top [Credit: Kazanlak Museum of History]

“This Hellenistic Era Thracian brick tomb is the second one… to be discovered with a fully preserved dome. Several other such brick tombs have been found in the Kazanlak Valley [the Valley of Odrysian Thracian Kings] but they are less preserved, and material from them was used for other structures in later periods,” Nehrizov explains.

“This is the smallest tomb of this kind to have been discovered so far. The dome’s top is covered with a stone slab. It consists of 23 rows of bricks of various shapes and sizes. There are rectangular, square, and sectoral bricks, and some of them are very thick. Our excavations lead to the conclusion that the bricks were baked here on the spot depending on the detail that the architect and builder needed, and everything was made to fit together.”

Small looted Thracian tholos tomb excavated in Bulgaria
Unfortunately, the smallest Ancient Thracian brick tomb in Bulgaria was totally looted 
by treasure hunters back in 2010 [Credit: Kazanlak Museum of History]

In front of the burial chamber and the antechamber, there was a shed covered with Laconian – type roof tiles, large flat tiles which were pieced together with curved tiles.

“Apparently, the shed was a wooden structure. Such sheds have been found in other Ancient Thracian tombs in the Kazanlak Valley such as Shushmanets, the Griffins’ Tomb, the Helvetia Tomb, but here the shed seems better preserved. The treasure hunters didn’t dig from the south,” Nehrizov adds.

On the outside, the Rozovo Tomb was plastered with river stones shaping what the Bulgarian archaeologists refer to as a “coat”, which both solidified the structure and prevented atmospheric water from penetrating the tomb.

“Unfortunately, after the treasure hunters’ raid, there is nothing left inside the tomb [in terms of funeral inventory]. We’ve found scattered bones from a human skeleton, including a skull, on the floor but there is no archaeological material, not even pottery. This is not a hurdle to dating the monument because all 14 similar Thracian tombs studied [by archaeologists] so far date to the first half of the 3rd century BC. This one is no exception,” Nehrizov reveals.

Source: Archaeology in Bulgaria [October 08, 2018]



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