Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Friday, April 7, 2017

No progress in the Valley of the Thracian Kings

The Thracian presence in Bulgaria is best documented by the Tomb of Kazanlak, but there are hundreds and thousands of similar tumuli spread all over Bulgaria that remain unexplored. In 2002, there was an exhibition in Brussels about the Gold of the Thracians and the map with all the Thracian burial mounds was baffling. Experts estimate that there are more than 15,000 of these tombs in Bulgaria with the highest concentration in the so-called Valley of the Thracian Kings around Kazanlak.

In my earlier post from April 2013, Valley of the Thracian Kings, Bulgaria, I tackled the serious shortage of funds for the maintenance and repair of these tombs. Unfortunately, more than four years later it seems nothing much has changed. In Bulgaria, the revenues from entrance fees to the tumuli and other archaeological sites are not being converted into conservation funds. This means that archaeologists are not too motivated to explore new tumuli and tombs simply because there is no way to restore them, which in turn leads to serious neglect and degradation of the painted walls and ceilings.

As mentioned before, there are a few outstanding tombs that definitely deserve close attention. The Kazanlak Tomb is understandably closed to the public who can, however, visit a substitute replica next door. But there also is the tomb at the Shusmanets mound where a slim column is supporting the vaulted ceiling of the burial chamber and seven half columns adorn the inside walls. Another example is the nearby Ostrusha tumulus which contains a sarcophagus-like chamber hewn from a single granite rock of 60 tons. The ceiling is decorated with frescoes of people, animals, plants and geometric figures and the central room of this tomb is surrounded by six other rooms in dear need of restoration. The best-known king of Thracia is probably Seuthes III whose tomb has been closed to the public last summer pending the much-needed funds for emergency repairs.

We know pretty little about the Thracians because they did not have a writing of their own and have not left any record. They were a people of horse breeders, miners, and talented goldsmiths. What transpires through their art is that they believed in the afterlife and the immortality of their soul. Their kings were considered to be the sons of Mother Earth and after their death, they must return to her womb. This could explain why they built these artificial mounds around their burial site in which the deceased ruler was placed surrounded by his horses, dogs, weapons, drinking cups and playing dices. The burial sites proper were built from huge granite blocks and slabs. Generally, an entrance corridor led to one or more chambers and all the walls were covered with paintings revealing details of their earthly life.

In the Valley of the Thracian Kings, only about three hundred of the roughly 1,500 tumuli have been excavated. It is a shame that the rich heritage of the Thracian does not receive the attention it deserves, either in Bulgaria or abroad.

[Pictures from Australian News]

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