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August 13, 2020

An 2000-Year-Old Thracian Chariot With Horse Skeletons Found in the Village of Karanovo, Bulgaria

A 4-wheel chariot with horses in a tomb of a Thracian Aristocrat from the 1st Century A.D. The chariot has four big wheels with a diameter of 4 feet (1.2 meters), embellished richly with silver coated small figures of Eros and riding mythical creatures with bodies of panthers. The skeletons of 2 horses and a dog were discovered next to the chariot.

In November 2008, a team of archaeologists led by Veselin Ignatov, of the Istoricheski muzej Nova Zagora, a museum in Bulgaria, discovered the 2,000-year-old wooden chariot. It was covered in bronze and would have been decorated with scenes from Thracian mythology that are now difficult to see. Its exact age is uncertain and may be closer to 1,800 years old.

This is one of the very few cases where archaeologists can trace the entire pattern of ritual practices accompanying burials of prominent Thracian people who believed in a better after-life. The deceased were to be laid with all the objects they needed during their lifetime. The richer and nobler the dead person, the more exuberant the burial gifts.

The bronze-plated wooden chariot is decorated with scenes from Thracian mythology - the god Eros, a jumping panther and a mythological animal with the body of a panther and the tail of a dolphin. It has wheels 4 feet in diameter. Four wheeled chariots are an extremely rare find, and this one is particularly notable because of the large diameter of its wheels.

The presence of wood in an archaeological site is usually connected with its usage in different activities: construction, instruments of production, etc. Well preserved wooden parts of chariots were found for the first time in the territory of Bulgaria.

Table pottery, glass vessels, well-preserved wooden and leather objects, some of which may have been horse harnesses, and other gifts were also discovered at the funerary mound. All artifacts were used for the funeral of a wealthy Thracian aristocrat.


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