The earliest traces of human presence in the environs of the town of Kazanluk in Central Bulgaria date back to the Neolithic age, i.e. 6th-5th millennium B.C. In latter years the Thracians settled permanently in those lands. A vestige of their advanced civilization are the numerous mounds, in which archaeologists discovered ancient sanctuaries or royal burials. The latter artifacts have brought the name of Valley of Thracian Kings.
More than two millennia ago Thracian tribes founded their first settlements on the banks of the river Tundzha in the environs of present-day town of Kazanluk.
In the 4th-3rd c. B.C. they founded the city of Seuthopolis that became the capital of the state of the Odrisi tribe. This period is characterized by huge monolithic cult complexes, where the Thracians used to bury their kings.
Thus with the years, the valley locked between the steep slopes of the Balkan Range and the wavy plateau of Sredna gora mountain range became a mausoleum in the open air of sorts similar to the Egyptian Valley of Kings along the Nile.
For the time being archaeologists have studied more than 20 of the mounds in the region.
The golden jewels and exquisitely crafted objects shed new light on the livelihood and beliefs of the ancient Thracians. Thracian believed in afterlife, that is why they wept bitterly whenever a child was born into this world, and rejoiced and celebrated with ostentatious rituals a person’s death.
The royal burials for instance lasted for three full days. The first day had been dedicated to sacrificial offerings at the tomb’s entrance; the second day was devoted to sports events and chariot races, and it was not until the third day that the defunct king had been seen off to the netherworld with a rich meal and plenty of song and dance.
The most famous among those tombs is the Kazanluk tomb, a UNESCO cultural monument dated back to the 4th-3rd c. B.C. it is the only kind in Europe with preserved murals.
In a nearby mound in 1992 archaeologists came across a peculiar phenomenon: a false burial used to mislead treasure hunters even at that time, for they had been well aware of the looters of tombs and royal burials who were pestering the region.
|The masc of King Theres|
In 1993 in the Ostrusha mound the scientists unearthed a rich cult from the 5th c. B.C. built into a 40 t monolith. The ceiling carved in reliefs and replicas of people, plants and animals.
When the Christian faith first came to our lands in the 4th-6th c. A.D. the Christians destroyed many of the marvellous mural as they considered them pagan vestige.
In 2004 archaeologists dug out a golden mask weighing almost 700 g. It was thought it belonged to King Theres, the founder of the Odrisi Kingdom. Among other items the experts have come across golden and silver articles and horse harness, swords, spears and two huge amphorae filled with wine to the brink.
|Mausoleum of King Seuthes III|
Initially the tombs used to be sanctuaries where religious services and sacrificial offerings had been performed. But later when the king or the priest died they became mausoleums. In the summer of 2005 archaeologists unearthed the mausoleum of King Seuthes III, founder of the city of Seuthopolis.
King Seuthes III died in combat in the environs of his capital.
But was buried outside the boundaries of the Odrisi Kingdom. That is why the burial mound contained only personal effects that the king might need in his afterlife. The Thracians had managed to build a burial chamber at the back of the sanctuary out of stone block weighing some 60t and sealed by a 20 t stone lid. We can’t keep wondering how the ancient had carried the huge blocks from the quarries of Sredna gora mountain range.
Veneta Nikolova . Neverending Journey