Archeology News for November 2008

This month, archeologists have been having a field day in Bulgaria and in Greece, as two exciting discoveries have been revealed. One focuses on the possessions of a former ancient aristocrat, while the other takes a look at how farming communities of the past once lived.

Chariots of the Past

In the southeastern part of Bulgaria, a Thracian chariot dating back 1,800 years has been uncovered in a burial mound. Possessing four wheels and a bronze sheath, the chariot was discovered surrounded by a variety of objects of wood and leather. Some believe that the remains of horses were found, as well as ancient pieces of their harnesses. This year has proven quite exciting for Bulgaria researchers, as this is the second chariot of its kind (fully intact) that has been unearthed.

The bronze-plated wooden chariot (which measures four feet across) offers a beautifully decorated scene consisting of Thracian mythology. Some figures in the detail show leaping panthers and a carving of a mythological creature that carries the body of a panther and a dolphin tail.

It is believed that the funerary mound they’ve happened upon once belonged to a wealthy Thracian aristocrat who was laid to rest with his possessions.

The country is not new to such burial mounds, as about 10,000 Thracian mounds have been detected throughout the country. For the most part, they serve as covering for monumental stone tombs. Sadly, they also fall victim to the destruction that comes at the hands of people looking for long-lost treasures. The contents of many ancient tombs are smuggled into other countries for a hefty price.

If you are wondering who the Thracians are, you may remember their mentioning in the Iliad (written by Homer), who states they are allies of Troy. This group of Indo-European nomadic people positioned themselves in the central part of the Balkans some 5,000 years ago. In the 1st century, they were conquered by Rome, and later assimilated into the culture of the Slavs, who invaded the land during the 6th century. Unfortunately, no written language was left behind. No records from the culture exist.

Ancient Farming in Greece

Central Greece is the location where archeologists have been exploring the remains of a Neolithic farming settlement that dates back to 6,500 years ago. While the settlement doesn’t seem to be too big, the ruins are still a great find for archeologists called to take a look at what workers discovered while digging for a gas line close to the village of Vassili in Thessaly , located 170 miles north of Athens.

A great deal of antiquities have been found in Central Greece, joining the remains of the houses at this particular site, which revealed wooden and unbaked clay construction. In the vicinity, stone tools, oven, terra-cotta figurines, stone axes, and pottery vases were uncovered.

In the past, Thessaly gained the reputation of delivering some of the most fertile lands in the region. Some of the first farmers in Greek history were drawn to the areas, which is why the ruins of more than 300 settlements have been uncovered over the years. These discoveries allow researchers to shed light on some of the major towns that developed in the ancient past.