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Roof of Thracian Tomb Uncovered in Bulgaria

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Roof of Thracian Tomb Uncovered in Bulgaria

Archaeologists in Bulgaria led by prof. Kostadin Kisyov of the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology have discovered the roof of a monumental tomb in southern Bulgaria, the web site Archaeology in Bulgaria said. Judging by the style of architecture, coins, and pottery found around the tomb, scientists dated the burial to the third century CE.

The tomb is seated within the Maltepe burial mound, which stood about 90 feet tall, and is said to be the largest ancient Thracian burial mound in the Balkan Peninsula. The top of the structure was found about 16 feet under the crest of the mound. Large stone blocks on the roof are thought to have supported a statue of the Thracian aristocrat resting inside the grave. That tomb is thought to have belonged to the emperor Marcus Aurelius Carinus, who reigned over Rome from 283 to 285 CE.

Due to the sheer enormity of the tomb, archaeologists feel confident that a Thracian aristocrat was buried here, but prof. Kostadin Kisyov said. "We are still at the beginning of the tomb's excavation. Right now, we are on the roof of the tomb which has been partly destroyed by treasure hunters' digging. According to our calculations, we still have to go about 4.55 meters in depth to reach the actual burial chamber."

Kisyov did note, however, that this Bulgarian tomb is exceedingly like another tomb that was found in Viminacium, the ancient Roman city, which is reputed to hold the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Carinus. Archaeologists also spied stone blocks at the top of the Roman tomb which they believe points to the remains of a statue that would have been left at the site to honour the dead Thracian aristocrat.

According to Professor Kisyov, the tomb is most likely that of a Thracian who presided over Philippopolis, as indicated by the placement of the tomb inside the burial mound.

"In my view, the tomb belongs to a Thracian noble who ruled the city of Philipopolis in the middle of the 3rd century CE, the time when power in the Roman Empire was assumed by emperors of common origin, who had not been connected to the elites. The most typical indicator that the tomb itself is most probably connected with some of the Thracian rulers is its location inside a burial mound."

As far as dating the tomb to the 3rd century CE, Kisyov further elaborated that archaeologists were able to verify that pottery and coins found near the burial mound also date back to this time period. "The dating of the tomb is determined not just by the architecture and the materials that were used but also by the five coins and the pottery that we have discovered scattered around the tomb as part of the burial rituals."

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