The village of SVESHTARI
is home to what is arguably the finest Thracian tomb
yet discovered in Bulgaria. Found in 1982 in a mound of earth known locally as Ginina Mogila
, it is the largest of a group of 26 mogili
(tumuli) lying about 2km beyond the western fringes of the village. The "Royal tomb", as it's known, dates from the third century BC, and is composed of an antechamber and two mortuary chambers, intended for a local chieftain and his wife, while the decoration indicates a melding of Thracian and Hellenistic religious elements. Above the doorway is a wonderful frieze, adorned with a bull's head motif, and a series of caryatids runs along the walls, their arms upraised in a gesture of worship. The whole is encased in a protective shell and is open to visitors, though at present, at irregular times - it's vital that you ring or call in at the museum in Isperih or at Aristour in Shumen to check that it's open before making a special trip. The museum may even be able to provide you with a guide if you arrange things in advance. Two more tombs, for the time being known simply as tomb #12
and tomb #13
, have been discovered near Ginina Mogila, and a much larger mound (named Omurtag
after the Bulgar Khan who was once thought to be buried here) is currently being excavated nearer to the village. Funds permitting, all of them will be opened to the public in the coming years.
Archeologists believe that as many as five necropolises were in use around Sveshtari, comprising more than 100 mogili in total. Some theories suggest that the configuration of the tombs either mirrors the constellations, or symbolizes the holy trinity of the Thracians, while ruins elsewhere in the vicinity have led many scholars to identify the Sveshtari neighbourhood with Dausdava, capital of the Getae. Cracks in some of the tombs suggest that an earthquake hit the area sometime in the first century BC, possibly causing the abandonment of the city.