Bulgarian Archaeologists Found Rich Funeral of Thracian Chieftain

January 10, 2003, Friday // 12:00
A funeral of a high-ranking Thracian aristocrat, devotee of the Orpheus cult, was discovered by Bulgarian archaeologists during excavations in what they call "Thracia's sacred valley." The rich Thracian was buried in a mound near the largest yet found Thracian temple in the vicinity of the village of Starosel, 100 miles east of Bulgaria's capital Sofia. In the 5th century BC, the body of the dead aristocrat was dismembered in three pieces and buried at the foot of an apparently sacred rock. At one side of it, the ancient have built a chamber with two-level roof to resemble a sanctuary. The belongings of the chieftain were arranged in that chamber. There is a full set of arms and armour including gold-washed ruff and helmet, spears, sword, shield and arrows. Except the armour, the archeologists found silver and bronze vessels and a lot of pottery. The find that stirred the most excitement among them was a silver double-blade axe called by Thracians "labris." In Thracian civilization, it symbolized royal power. There was also a gold seal-ring engraved with an image of a horseman spearing a boar. The team that discovered the funeral is led by renowned Bulgarian archaeologist Georgi Kitov. After three years of excavations in the vicinity of the village of Starosel, his expedition has unearthed six Thracian temples of different architecture type and of different disposition. Thus, Kitov assumes that all Thracian tribes built their temples in this "sacred valley" and pilgrims from all parts of Thracia flocked to it. The archaeologist got world recognition in 2000 when he discovered the largest yet found Thracian temple near Starosel. The ancient Thracians, ruled by a powerful warrior aristocracy rich in gold treasures, inhabited an area extending over most of modern Bulgaria, northern Greece and the European part of Turkey.

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