Archeological Discoveries in Karanovo

Excavation and conservation activities at Iztochna Mogila (Eastern Mound) Archeological Complex near Karanovo village

Probably one of the most significant and unique historical projects the Bank has been supporting in recent years relates to the archaeological excavations near Karanovo village, Nova Zagora. It was exactly these intense archaeological activities, organized with the support of UBB, that led to a series of unexpected discoveries, among which a unique plate, decorating a Thracian chariot from the II century AD.

As part of its line of support for historical heritage UBB funded the excavation works that led to the discovery of a ruler’s burial, which became known for its unique silver cups, decorated with the God of Love, Eros, the gold rings and coins, the ruler’s armour and most of all - with the preserved on site chariot of a Thracian aristocrat from I - II century AD, laid as it had been - with the horses in harness, the wheels, the bronze ornaments, depicting mythical creatures and the Thracian nobleman’s favourite dog.

Excavation and conservation of Iztochna Mogila Archaeological Complex near Karanovo

The discovery was made in October 2008 by a team from the History Museum of Nova Zagora town, led by the archaeologist Veselin Ignatov, as a result of the rescue archaeological works at the eastern mound in the necropolis. Iztochna Mogila Archaeological Complex is part of the settlement site’s necropolis near Karanovo village.

In 2009, the team of archaeologists continued their excavations in the eastern part of the mound. The aim was to study the grave itself, to search for the tamed horses and to establish the ritual activities, performed during the Thracian man’s funeral. The studies revealed a brick vaulted tomb with a burial chamber, whereas based on the extremely rich gifts the scientists assumed that the buried man had been a member of a family, either close or related to the Sapaean-Odrysian dynasty. Researchers shared the idea that the tomb was of the last Odrysian king - Remetalk III - a personal friend of Emperor Claudius, who was killed as a result of a conspiracy, organized by the Thracian aristocracy.

However, this was not the end of the discovery series - at the beginning of 2009, Veselin Ignatov also found a radiograph of a rusty sheet metal, stored in the repository of the town’s Historical Museum. Under the corroded surface he revealed a unique decorative plate, which had adorned a Thracian two-wheeled chariot, dating from the II century and researched in 1976 at Dalgata Mogila (Long Mound)  locality near Karanovo by Mityo Kanchev, director at that time of Nova Zagora Museum.

The appliqué of an antique carriage was sized 52 cm x 12 cm with a thickness of 0.3 cm and had adorned the lower back side of the chariot’s box. This had been a luxurious passenger carriage with soft-spring suspension, exceptionally original in its structural design and decoration, with supplementary appliqués, most notably three - a bust of Heracles and two heads of Medusa Gorgon.

After 6-month efforts the restoration expert Silvia Borisova revealed the decoration of the antique cart - amazing picture of a festively decorated ancient building (probably a temple), "painted" more than 18 centuries ago, using a flat inlay, resembling gold alloy and details of copper on a sheet of metal .

The decorative lamella is undoubtedly unique. No archaeologist worldwide has ever touched a similar applique of an antique cart, a combination of three different materials, and more to that – blended into a real work of art of highly artistic value.

Giving publicity to discoveries

UBB, in partnership with Cultural Projects’ Association and Nova Zagora Municipality, consistently supports ongoing excavations, conservation efforts and promotes the work of archaeologists.

Thus the Bank decided to finance the construction of a special protective structure around the fieldwork area of Nova Zagora archaeologists to ensure unhindered excavation works, regardless of weather conditions.

In 2009, at Mall of Sofia, a Thracian chariot’s unique decoration was exhibited, thus launching a project for the latter’s restoration. Subsequently, the initiative was expanded to also cover the concept of producing and exhibiting a scale model of a chariot, together with displaying the restored original parts. In 2009 the discoveries’ history was published in detail in Archeology Magazine - the world's leading print media in the field.

During the large-scale project UBB also initiated exhibition events, revealing the ways of life of the Thracians and presenting elements of the Karanovo discoveries.

Since June 2010 Iztochna Mogila Archaeological Complex near Karanovo village is open for visitors.

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