Kazanlak Thracian Tomb (World Heritage)

The Thracian dome grave from the 4th century BC is a reminder of the Hellenistic period. The masterful fresco painting found in the burial place serves as a valuable reference to the way of life and the weapons of the Thracians. You can see, among other things, an elaborately designed round frieze with three chariots and a grieving couple.

Kazanlak Thracian Tomb: Facts

Official title: Thracian tomb of Kazanlak
Cultural monument: one of 13 excavated Thracian dome tombs on Bulgarian soil; Consists of a death chamber with a maximum height of 3.25 m and a diameter of 2.65 m, a 2 m long and 1.2 m wide corridor (“dromos”) and an anteroom; Fresco painting as a valuable reference to the way of life and armament of the Thracians, among other things. Round frieze with three chariots and 60 cm high round frieze with a solemn farewell meal
Continent: Europe
Country: Bulgaria
Location: Kazanlak, Tjulbeto Hill
Appointment: 1979
Meaning: important testimony to the funerary culture of the Hellenistic period

Kazanlak Thracian Tomb: History

341 BC Chr. Macedonian invasion under Philip II.
End of the 4th century BC Chr. Installation of the grave monument
1944 discovery
1975 Build a replica

Of living and dying

“I saw his horses as the most beautiful and largest: whiter than snow and running like the winds. And the chariot is well made for him with gold and silver. And the weapons golden, the monstrous, to see a miracle with which he came: it is not fitting to carry them for mortal men, no, only for immortal gods! “This euphoric description of a Thracian general from Homer’s” Iliad “belongs to the first written records of the Thracian people. Among the numerous excavation finds from the Thracian era in Bulgaria, the tomb of Kazanlak with its well-preserved wall paintings is without a doubt one of the most vivid and impressive. The burial complex, which originally consisted of three rooms, dates from the heyday of the Thracian tribal society. According to topb2bwebsites, millennium BC in what is now Bulgaria. In the sixth century BC it was possible to unite some of the split Thracian tribes under the leadership of the Odrysen to form a state. This union did not last long, too powerful were the Macedonian neighbors, who annexed the Thracian tribal area under Philip II in the fourth century BC.

The wall paintings of the tomb allow a sensual impression of a highly developed culture at the zenith of its history. When the tomb was discovered, it had long been robbed. Only a few objects and bones remained. The beehive-like grave complex opens over an anteroom, the painting of which has unfortunately largely disappeared and which possibly contained horses and wagons with which the dead were supposed to go to the afterlife. The adjoining corridor, almost two meters long, is painted on both sides with scenes of war. Possibly these are scenes from the life of the nobleman buried here. Warm colors, among which ocher tones dominate, determine the character of the painting, which was carried out using the tempera and fresco technique. Quartz particles added to the colors sometimes make the wall painting shine to this day. Unlike in contemporary Hellenistic painting, the soldiers depicted lack any stereotype, rather a lively and natural form of representation is captivating.

The actual circular burial chamber with a stately height of more than three meters connects to the corridor. The dome of this burial room conceals the artistic highlight of this complex. In the center of the circular ceiling painting is a couple – perhaps even the ruling couple themselves – who tenderly shake hands as a sign of farewell. A procession of subordinates with numerous burial offerings moves towards the couple from both sides. A nobly dressed lady hands fruit, a subordinate brings a jug of wine, two trumpeters accompany the procession with fanfares. The ruler is given jewelry boxes and a blue veil. Horses form the end of both halves of the procession. Like the people portrayed, these animals, so highly valued by the Thracians, are very realistic in their peculiarities. Both rulers sit on a wooden throne decorated with silver; a last meal is on the table before them. Even today, the scene is able to express silent, solemn grief that does not leave the viewer unmoved. Apart from a realistic representation of the people, this is due not least to an extremely clever color and shadow design, in which red and ocher tones are in the foreground. A wild chariot race inside the painting forms a visible contrast to the solemn atmosphere of the farewell scene, which shows little of the joyful expectation of the beyond.

Kazanlak Thracian Tomb (World Heritage)

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