Cultural Corridors of South East Europe

Heritage by Period / Antiquity

Thracian cult complex

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Thracian cult complex

About the site

Corridor: Diagonal Road
Country: Bulgaria, Starosel, Hisarya
Type: Ancient Site
Epoch: Antiquity
Theme: Antiquity
World Heritage:
AntiquityAntiquityAncient Site

The Thracian cult complex by Starosel village was discovered in 2000 and immediately became a sensation.
In the Chetiniova tumulus was discovered an imposing enormous Thracian temple dating back to end of V c. - beginning of IV c. BC. It is interesting that the discovery during the archaeological excavations is not a traditional tomb, but a sort of tomb/temple. It consists of two chambers – the first one being rectangular, while the second round in plan with dome roof. The main stone stairway to the south and two side stairways led to the chambers. An imposing façade is preserved outside as well as an impressive supporting wall (called krepis), 241m long and 3m high. 4000 huge carved stone blocks, linked together with cramps with lead were necessary for the building of the structure. In addition to the traditional rites related to the Thracian cult, it is assumed that in this sanctuary was buried a worshipped ruler, most probably King Sitalkes.
The Thracian temple in Chetiniova tumulus is the key point of a great cult centre of a number of sanctuaries and several dozens of tumuli. In two of them are discovered smaller temples used also as mausoleums. In others were buried representatives of the high Thracian aristocracy. In Peychova tumulus, around an obviously sacred rock, was discovered a built chamber with double-pitched roof, resembling a temple. The belongings of the leader were discovered there, among which stands out a silver double axe (labris) – symbol of king power in ancient Thrace. Panchova tumulus hides a grave of a soldier with objects of his armament and silver decoration for a horse head. Among the finds in the tumuli stand out a few golden rings – stamps with figures of horsemen.
In 2005 the archaeologists discovered a Thracian town dating back to V c. BC, under the peak “Kozi gramadi”, 20km from Starosel. The town covers 8 acres fortified with an impressive wall, with a king residence preserved to the second floor. The Thracian town and residence had been perhaps the capital of the Odorises king Amatokes, described by ancient Hellenic writers to have been 12 days away from the Marmara sea. The town and the tombs in Starosel were doubtless part of an ancient urban system.

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