Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Thracian Tomb of Alexandrovo

By Rossitza Ohridska-Olson
Dedicated to the memory of Dr. Kitov, the dicoverer of the tomb, and great friend.
One of the most striking examples of Thracian art and architecture is the Alexandrovo Tomb in Bulgaria, in Haskovo region. It was discovered in December 2000 by Dr. Georgi Kitov (Георги Китов), one of Bulgaria’s most prominent archaeologists.

The Alexandrovo tomb, as a combination of magnificent architectural exemplar of the domed Thracian tombs and its superb frescoes place it in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List almost immediately after its discovery.


The Thracian Tomb of Alexandrovo is situated only few miles south-east from the Haskovo, in Southern Bulgaria and only 1 mile from the international road linking Western Europe to Istanbul. From Turkey, it can be accessed from the road lining Edirne with Svilengrad/Haskovo.


The tomb was built by the middle IV century B.C.E. The frescoes can be dated as second half of IV century B.C.E.


The Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb was hidden under a mound of 60 m (around 200 ft) diameter and around 15 m (50 ft) high. Its dromos (“road” in Greek, depicting a long corridor for access to the Tomb) was 9 m (30 ft) long, and its opening was facing East. The entire dromos was covered with stone plates. Following the dromos, the visitor enters in a rectangular antechamber of 1,85 m by 1,20 m (6 by 4 ft). which is richly decorated with polished frescoes. The art continues in the main chamber, which is a round domed chamber with diameter of 3,30 m (11 ft) and 3,30 m (11 ft) height.

The stone plates continue in the low parts of the antechamber and main chamber. The The vault arch of the antechamber and the dome of the main chamber have artificial vault created to preserve the proportions.


Above the stone plates the entire Alexandrovo tomb was covered by “Stucco Lustro”, - a double layered plaster covering, later polished to perfection. That is valid for both monochrome zones and the scene painted ones. In the antiquity, all the interior of the Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb was covered by paintings. Now only the ones of the antechamber are preserved partially and completely – these in the main chamber.

The most preserved frescoes in the main chamber are composed by a geometric freeze, followed upwards by four groups of hunt scenes. The hunting scenes are of astonishing realism, dynamic and of rich colors, depicting boar, deers, dogs, horses and horsemen, during hunting.

The tomb Thrace de Alexandrovo is a cultural monument of great national and international importance. Containing one of the best examples of unique frescoes with brilliant colors, preserved for more than 2 500 years, the Thracian Tomb of Alexandrovo represents a great interest for classical studies of the Antiquity. The images depicted on the frescoes not only represent the artistic achievements of the Thracians, but they also reveal information on clothing styles, armament, the social system and the believes and rites of this lost civilization. They also show the religious and spiritual system of the people who lived in Thrace before the conquist of these lands by Alexander the Great and his father. The frescoes of the Alexandrovo Tomb also represent a good point for comparison between similar artistic expressions from other parts of Thrace (The Thracian Tomb of Kazanluk, UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as in other parts of the Mediterranean world, such as in Anatolia, Macedonia and Greece. Studying these comparisons will serve as a departing point of understanding the cultural influences and the cultural transfer between these regions, as well as the evolution of the funeral rites and imagery.

The Copy of the Alexandrovo Thracian Tomb

In May 2009 was inaugurated the Museum of the Thracian Civilization of the East Rhodopes, which hosts an exact copy of the Thracian Tomb of Alexandrovo.

The museum also displays objects which were found in the tomb, as well as photos, multimedia and other information on the presence and artistic expression of the Thracians in this region of Bulgaria.

The photos of this blogposts are made from the copy. The original tomb is closed for visits, due to the fragile state of the frescoes.

© Rossitza Ohridska-Olson - text, photography

No comments:

Post a Comment