Wednesday, 18 January 2017
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Thracian tomb of Sveshtari Print E-mail

 It is situated 2.5 km south-west of the village of Sveshtari, 42 km north-east of Razgrad, in the north-east of Bulgaria. It was discovered in 1982 during the excavation of the high Glinina mound near the village. It is a Thracian-Hellenistic tomb from the first half of the 3rd century BC. The Getic ruler Drumihed was probably buried in this royal tomb. The construction, built of smooth-cut soft limestone blocks, consists of a passage and three square chambers (a narthex, a side room, and a burial chamber), covered with a semi- cylindrical vault. The entrance is decorated with pillars with Ionian capitals. On them lies a slate with a relief-decorated freeze of ox heads, rosettes, and garlands. Gifts and sacrificial offerings were probably left beside the entrance.

All objects made of precious metals have been stolen in antiquity. The riches originally laid in the tomb can be inferred from the bones of five horses, slain to accompany their master in the afterlife. Two stone beds, human bones and burial gifts have been found in the chamber. Near on bed is a miniature temple façade, implying the recent sanctification of the deceased ruler. The sanctification ritual is pictured on the semi- cylindrical wall under the vault of the chamber. It portrays the ruler on horseback with two armour-bearers behind him, and faced by the goddess who is handing him a gold wreath, followed by four women with gifts. The walls of the chamber are shaped as a colonnade.

The blocks under the vault are also supported by ten 1.2 m high caryatids with raised arms. They are wearing long finely plaited sleeveless garments, with a belt under the breasts. The edge of the garments has a large hem and is shaped as a flower. Their curly hair falls over the shoulders, covered on the crown of the head with a peculiar basket called calathos. The hair, faces and clothes were coloured, judging by the traces of dark brown paint. The statues of the caryatids, the scene painted under the vault indicate that neither the sculptors nor the painters were able to finish their work. The arms of some caryatids were carved roughly, and the drawing was just outlined with black chalk. The same details imply that the ruler for whom the tomb was meant died suddenly.

The tomb excavated at Sveshtari is not a solitary construction. 26 other tombs of various sizes have been preserved along a 2 km stripe. The whole region has been declared an archaeological reserve.
The Thracian tomb of Sveshtari was included in the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List at the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Committee session of 1985 in Paris, France.