Bulgarian Archaeologists Make Breakthrough in Ancient Thrace Tomb

Archaeology | March 11, 2010, Thursday // 15:24|  views

A coin found nead the Starosel tombs shows the doubleheaded labrys, the coat of arms of the family of Amatokos II. Photo by BGNES

One of Bulgaria’s top Ancient Thrace sites, the Starosel Tomb, has been dated to the 4th century BC after years of research.

With German help a team of archaeologists of the Bulgarian National History Museum led by Dr. Ivan Hristov has managed to estimate the timing of the construction of the largest underground temple on the Balkan Peninsula, the Starosel Tomb, located in the Hisarya Municipality, Plovdiv District.

In the summer of 2009, the archaeological team took samples from a stake in the middle of the tomb where gifts to the Greek goddess of the hearth Hestia were laid.

The radio carbon dating analysis carried out in Heidelberg, Germany, in the laboratory of Dr. Bernd Krommer, have shown that the stake was burned in the period after 358 BC, when the temple was constructed, and the earth was heaped on top of it to form a burial mound.

The analysis of the lab research and of the events which happened at that time have given archaeologist Ivan Hristov grounds to conclude that the temple in the village of Starosel, in the so called Chetinyova Mound, and the nearby Thracian ruler’s residence under Mount Kozi Gramadi were built during the reign of the Thracian King Amatokos II (359-351 BC), of the Thracian Odrysian state (5th-3rd century BC.

The family coat of arms of King Amatokos was a doubleheaded ax, or a labrys. Symbols of a labrys were discovered on several items around Starosel, including Thracian coins.

Before Dr. Hristov’s analysis, the researchers of Ancient Thrace believed that the Starosel tomb and underground temple complex were built by King Sitalces (445-424 BC), the third ruler of the Odrysian State.

The Thracian objects in the region of Starosel were also in operation during the reign of King Teres II (351-341 BC).

The archaeologists believe that the region was the power center of Ancient Thrace in the 4th century BC. It was destroyed during the rise of the Macedonian state of Philip II in 342-341 BC.

The Bulgarian archaeologists have reconstructed the so called “Holy Road” of the Thracians leading to their underground temples in Starosel, and are determined to continue revealing its secrets.

Archaeologist Ivan Hristov is preparing a book on the Chetinyova Mound in order to tell the story of the Temple of the Immortal Thracian Kings there.

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Tags: Ancient Thrace, archaeologist, archaeology, National History Museum, tomb, temple, burial mound, Starosel, Ivan Hristov, Sitalces, Teres, Odrysian State, Sitalk, Amatokos II


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