Sensational Archaeological Discovery Near Shveshtari Amazes in Bulgaria

Society | January 12, 2003, Sunday // 00:00

The Thracian royal tomb near the village of Shveshtari is one of the most sensational archaelogical discoveries over the past twenty years in Bulgaria. Perfect as architecture, it amazes both with its wealth of sculptural ornaments as well as the ritual of heroization painted in vibrant colours. A remarkable monument of Thracian art - the biggest sensation of ancient archaeology in the recent years. The extraordinary architecture and picturesque ornaments draw out the Sveshtari tomb in the list of the world cultural-historical heritage of UNESCO. It was unearthed during excavations in the historical-archeological reserve "Sboryanovo," situated between the villages Malak Porovetz and Sveshtari of Isperih municipality, in the river Krapinetz canyon and on the hills around.

The tomb consists of a corridor (dromos) and three square chambers: ante-chamber, lateral chamber and main burial chamber covered by a semicylindrical vault. The plan of the building offers a new interesting example in Thracian building practice. The decoration of the tomb is executed in the sprit of the contemporary Helenistic architecture. Its entrance is flanked by two rectangular columns (antae). Above them there is an architrave plate with a frieze in relief, consisting of stylized bovine heads (bucrania), rosettes and garlands. Ten beautiful female figures with hands raised high like caryatids are impressive. The figures are about 1.20 m tall, presented frontally, wearing long sleeveless dresses (chtons) tied with a thin belt below the breasts.

Two funerary beds, human bones and grave offerings were discovered in the central chamber. From the scattered stone details it was possible to reconstruct the faзade of the tomb aedicule - naiskos, consisting of pilasters, cornice and a pediment, and closed with three stone doors. Being places in front of the large funerary bed as a symbol of the boundary between life and death, the aedicule isolated the grave of the deified ruler - the most sacral part of the tomb - from the rest of the place. In the center of the composition the goddesss is offering a gold wreath to the ruler, rendered as a horseman facing her. On both sides of them there are processions of servants and armour-bearers carrying different gifts in their hands.

The time when the Sveshtari tomb was built (mid-3d century BC) coincided with the period of a great political, economic and cultural upsurge of the Thracian tribe of the Getae.The rich decoration and perfect architecture of the tomb speak for the political power of the ruler.

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