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(Miro Zlatev/Bulphoto Agency)


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(Miro Zlatev/Bulphoto Agency)

A pair of gold-plated silver cups depicting Eros, the god of love, and a rare snail-shaped glass drinking vessel are among new discoveries made by Veselin Ignatov of the Nova Zagora Museum in a first-century A.D. Thracian burial mound in east-central Bulgaria. The brick tomb from which these artifacts were excavated belongs to the same person whose richly decorated chariot, horses, and favorite dog were found by Ignatov just a few feet away in 2008. It is the earliest intact grave ever found associated with a chariot burial.

“This grave shows the Thracian aristocracy’s exceptional wealth when Thrace became a province of the Roman Empire [in A.D. 46],” says Ignatov. He suggests the tomb belonged to a family member or associate of King Rhoemetalces III (A.D. 38–44), the last sovereign of the Odrysian Kingdom, who was murdered in a coup led by his wife. While more than 200 Thracian chariot burial complexes have been found in Bulgaria over the last two decades, most have been uncovered and destroyed by looters. “You can count on your fingers the number discovered and studied by archaeologists,” says Ignatov, who estimates the total number of Thracian burial sites in Bulgaria to be about 12,000.

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