The tomb is a unique example of Thracian art and culture from the 3rd century BC. The rooms of the grave found in 1982 under an 11 m high mound of earth are decorated with paintings and sculptures. Caryatids surround the deathbed of the Thracian ruler, who had also been given his horses and his favorite wife in the grave.
Svehtari Thracian Tomb: facts
|Official title:||Thracian tomb of Sveshtari|
|Cultural monument:||an “eternal house”, consisting of several chambers, with impressive sculptural decorations|
|Location:||southwest of Silistra|
|Meaning:||remarkable testimony to the Thracian burial culture|
Thracian tomb of Sveshtari: history
|1st half of 3rd century BC Chr.||Plant of the burial chamber|
|2012||Archaeologists discover a gold treasure from the 4th / 3rd century BC. Near Silistra, which is associated with the grave of Sveshtari|
From a journey to the afterlife
Little is known of the Thracian people, who lived in many tribes in what is now Bulgaria featured on intershippingrates. This is due in no small part to the fact that they were an unscriptural people who left no records whatsoever. All the more valuable are the archaeologists’ findings, who provide information about this once powerful people. The tomb of Svehtari is unique in Bulgaria in this respect, as it shows in a unique way the connection between Thracian culture and Hellenistic art. Since the Greeks had established colonies on the Black Sea, their influence on the Thracian world grew, just as, conversely, Thracian culture found its way into the Greek spiritual world. The cult of the cheerful god Dionysus is probably the most remarkable example of Thracian influence.
The grave complex dates from the beginning of the 3rd century BC and was hidden under a thick layer of earth for over 2000 years. Presumably it was part of a larger “city of the dead” or a larger political and cultural center of the Thracians. The grave of Sveshtari is the only grave mound that has been excavated so far. In his neighborhood, others are waiting to be excavated and the “dead” buried there waiting to be raised.
The grave itself consists of three rooms with a rectangular floor plan, each of which leads into a barrel vault. A four-meter-long corridor flanked by two pillars leads to an anteroom, from which a side room branches off. To this day, scientists have been puzzling over the function of a window that is located between the adjoining chamber and the vestibule. The walls and ceilings of all rooms consist of carefully hewn limestone blocks, some of which are held together by clips and the spaces between them were filled with lead.
The actual burial chamber is in the center of interest due to its architectural design and its unique decoration. The first thing that catches the eye are the ten female figures, each 1.20 meters tall, which cover three walls of the burial chamber in a frieze. Three of them face east and west, four face north. They are wrapped in similarly designed dresses that taper off in rosettes and imitate acanthus leaves, but each of them has retained its own style. The women look straight ahead with solemn and serious expressions. It remains a secret to this day whether the portrayal is about goddesses or women of the person buried here. With their raised hands they support the stone frieze above, which itself has a number of geometric decorations. However, like several pillars, the female figures do not have any supporting functions. Similar friezes in the shape of female figures from the Greek world are known as so-called »caryatids«.
In the upper part of the southern wall remains of a painting can be seen, which are obviously intended to express the heroic depiction of the deceased. He sits on a horse, the most important animal in Thracian society, a goddess hands him a laurel wreath, servants bring gifts for the journey to the afterlife.
Some archaeologists believe that the tomb was left unfinished. Presumably it had to be handed over to its intended use earlier than originally planned. As with numerous other graves, the valuable grave goods were stolen by grave robbers at an early stage. The burial chamber, however, contained the remains of an approximately 60-year-old man – a very old age for the time. Next to him was found the body of a young woman who probably followed him more or less voluntarily to death. Whether this is the “favorite wife” of the gentleman buried here, as some scientists claim, remains a mere guess.