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The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari

The Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is one of the most remarkable archaeological finds on the territory of Bulgaria. It was found in 1982 during excavations near the village of Sveshtari and is dated to the 3rd century BC. Thanks to its exceptional cemetery architecture and artistic decorations that exemplify the Hellenistic and Hyperborean culture, the Tomb of Sveshtari attracts visitors from different parts of the country as well as tourists from abroad. Some archaeologists relate the tomb to the Getae – particular Thracian tribes that lived in areas on each side of Danube River. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, they represented “the noblest as well as the most just of all the Thracian tribes.”

Located in the northwest Bulgaria, the Thracian Tomb is part of a larger archaeology complex – The Sboryanovo Historical and Archaeological Reserve – that comprises several ancient villages, sanctuaries, necropolises and a fortified Thracian centre. The Tomb of Sveshtari itself is built with large limestone blocks and features one corridor (dromos) and three vaulted chambers. Impressive in size, it is 7.5m long, 6.5m wide and 4.45m high.

Inside, this historical and cultural monument is like no other Thracian tomb, especially the central burial chamber where the body of a dead Get king was laid. Ten different female figures called caryatids adorn the walls of this room. Interestingly, parts of the sculptures have preserved some of their original polychromy. The colourful traces in brown, red and blue shades are visible on the hair as well as the clothes of the female figures. Yet, some details indicate that the ruler was buried inside before the chamber was finished completely.

Another interesting thing about the Thracian tomb is that two stone beds, human bones as well as some memorial gifts were also discovered in the same chamber. There is also a scene on the ceiling that represents the heroisation ritual of the deceased king.

Because of the authenticity, the integrity and the cultural, artistic, ad historical importance of the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari, it is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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