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08 april '20

Offerings from a symbolic burial

Offerings from a symbolic burial, village of Belish, Troyan Minicipality, late 8th – early 7th centuries BC, National Museum of History, inv. N42539 - 43311

The objects were discovered by chance in 2000 in a small tumulus, part of a necropolis comprising 12 tumuli in the locality of Manastirski Talasun, in the east of the village of Belish. All of them – bracelets, fibulae, belt appliques, a string of amber nuclei and beads of rock crystal, an iron axe and various in diameter spiral elements – were deposited within the frames of a grave construction under the tumulus embankment in a way that illustrated their location on the body and the clothes of the “buried”. An iron axe and a small ceramic vessel were deposited slightly aside where the head should be. A string of bronze spiral elements and a string of pierced amber nuclei and two beads of rock crystal were placed around the neck. On the sides of the shoulders and the arms were situated the bronze fibulae and bracelets. The belt appliques with a buckle with a circular end-piece, together with spirally coiled elements were found in the area of the waist. The two ‘bunches’ of fragmented spiral bracelets of many coils marked the position of the legs.

All elements had been part of ceremonial, representative clothing. The size, shape and location of the iron double ax in the grave (at the level of the "head") testify to its function as a scepter - insignia, which marks the position of a ruler-priest from the area of the northern slopes of Central Haemus. The discovery of the amber pieces which, according to the laboratory studies are of Baltic origin, i.e. imported, marks the ancient road from the Carpathians through the Troyan Pass towards the Rhodopes and the northern Aegean, called “the amber road”. The data from the archaeological studies, as well as the information from the written sources by Old Greek and Roman authors (Tacit., Germania,45; Plin. Hist. Nat, XXXVII, 32-53) give evidence that in ancient times the amber was known enough and was a compulsory attribute of the priests in their healing and magical rites. All this turn them into a particularly expensive import production, and their wearing in an adornment should have been a privilege of the representatives of the Thracian aristocracy. 
 
Authors: I. Hristov/ed. L.Konova
Translation: S. Tsaneva/L.Konova
Photos: T. Dimitrov
 
Further reading:
Христов, Ив. Тракийски накитни съкровища VІІ-VІ в. пр. Хр. София 2002, с. 6-60.
Христов, Ив. Тракийски накитни съкровища (ІХ-VІ в. Пр.Хр.) от фонда на Национален исторически музей, Известия на Националния исторически музей, т. ХІV. с. 43 –67.