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Lilovo Grave Troas.leshtakov

Lilovo Grave Troas.leshtakov

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Published by: sabretech2001 on Apr 26, 2011
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New Evidence on the LBA Mortuary Practicesin South Bulgaria
Krassimir Leshtakov 
: The subject of this communication is the grave-inventory from a LBA bar-row excavated illegally by amateurs–treasure hunters in the Rhodopes several yearsago. The ritual is cremation but no human bones were preserved. The grave goodsconsist of prestigious and valuable items: a bronze double-axe and a bronze knife,golden adornments and several ceramic vessels. The most striking item is a smallmechanical toy – a bird’s head with long neck shaking on a tripod. This artefact hasbeen cast by bronze and the eyes are prepared from semi-precious red chalcedony,most probably – from carnelian. This is a unique piece which could be dated in the14-12 c. BC, according to the shapes and the patterns of the pottery found togeth-er. All the artefacts bear well visible traces of firing, which support the presumptionthat they had been placed on the pyre together with the body. The dead person (-s)should have been of a high position in the Thracian society and had well demon-strated affinity to the East Mediterranean luxury.
Late Bronze Age, tumulus, Rhodope Mountains, golden and bronzeitems.
I. Find-spot and information about the discovery.
The peak Lilovo is situated in South Bulgaria, near the town of Devin at an altitude 1431 m(Fig. 1-2). Its flat plateau has been used for necropolis from the LBA until Roman times. A forest road provides access almost to the very divide
. The native people as well as the treas-ure-hunters do know very well this site provoked by the Roman tumuli. Antiquities therehave been systematically demolished by bulldozers hunting for treasures. Several years agothree amateurs – treasure–hunters, excavated illegally this place. Surprisingly, below the ro-man debris they found out by bulldozers a LBA grave or graves with rich inventory, which
Krassimir Leshtakov, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”, Department of Archaeology, 15 Tzar OsvoboditelBlvd. 1534 Sofia, Bulgariae.mail: leshtakov@abv.bg
The synchronous settlements have not been located in the surroundings as no field surveys have been taken yet.
 Funeral Rites, Rituals and Ceremonies from Prehistory to Antiquity 69-82 
Krassimir Leshtakov 
are the subject of this communication
. When all pieces were outearthed, the treasure-hunters were surprised by the big value of the artefacts. In fact, this is the richest LBA com-plex excavated until now in South Bulgaria. After some complications, in the course of one year the items became property of the museums of Plovdiv and Zlatograd
and of severalprivate collections as well. Accordingly, the mortuary gifts were divided into several parts.Moreover, it is not known at all, how many pieces have been demolished by the digging orscattered after that, thus it is not possible to postulate that we have information about the whole range of grave-goods. The goal of the author is not to make a profound analysis of the artefacts and their parallels – the space available here is not suitable to present the com-plete investigation. Hence, the article has a character of preliminary study addressed to theinternational audience for next debates. To trace the parallels of the findings and to com-ment them in details is a challenge for any archaeologist but it should be done elsewhere.
II. Grave construction and mortuary rituals in the West Rhodopes.
In the concrete case, there is no information about any LBA grave installation under thebarrow-layers – platforms, stone circles, cists, etc. This important information is lost dueto the absence of interest on the part of the ‘investigators’ about any field details. Anyway,it is reasonable to suppose that in accordance with other LBA tumuli from the region thisone should also have been a subject of special procedures. According to the available in-formation, all the items were found in a simple pit (-s) or a cavern (-s) into the bedrock.The low barrows are typical for the LBA in the West Rhodopes Mountains. According tosome scholars(Kisyov 1989:49), the eastern limit of their penetration should be seen in theregion of the small town Zlatograd and the northern to Pilashevo (Bukovo), i.e. some 30-40km eastwards from the modern regional centre Smolyan (Fig. 2). There is informationabout more than 15 necropolises and more than several dozens LBA barrows have beenexcavated. In general, the barrows are heaped at elongated peak-ridges, high plateaus andthe upper part of the steep slopes facing south. They are grouped into 2-5 in number andusually around and over them some EIA or Roman graves were constructed in addition.They also are covered by stones, pebbles and earth. By so doing, the low LBA tumuli – upto 1.50 m high – become bigger but the later layers as structure and consistence are thesame. The cremation ritual prevails in mortuary practice, with only few exceptions. Thegrave construction is simple – a platform above the terrain, small pit or pottery-urn forthe ashes of the body and the rest of cremated grave-goods. As a particular feature can beregarded the fact that most of the grave constructions as type and usage can be recognizedas late as Roman times. The authors point out pottery sherds scattered around the grave
 When the report for the workshop in Chanakkale was ready and the article was written, I was told that one free-lance archaeologist and eminent politician took an official permission to make excavations at the same site, i.e. tofinish the treasure-hunters affairs. As Bulgarian mass-media inform, a sword type C and other prestigious itemshad been found. It is not clear whether the excavated tumulus is the same one, which was damaged by the former‘night-shift’ but nevertheless, the new finds proved the idea that this is one of the richest LBA necropolises in theRhodopes.
 As a rule in Bulgaria, all the criminal antiquities are transported abroad, placed in black-markets and, after short time, enter the big European or American auctions. However, perhaps because of the stronger border controlrecently, the treasure-hunters decided to find market at home.
New Evidence on the LBA Mortuary Practices in South Bulgaria
construction or in the tumuli-layers – mostly decorated part of walls, rims and handles. It is worth to notice that only several LBA metal items have been found until now – a bronzedagger
, a bronze knife, beams and several awls. There is not gold jewellery at all, only ‘con-servative’ as style pottery vessels with parallels encompassing East Macedonia and Thassos(Kisyov 1989:41-48). No settlement has been excavated
and the investigations of the tracesof old mining activities are very scanty yet. On the other side, the excavations at highland-sites identified as rock- and peak sanctuaries, are usually of limited scale, and no one triesto correlate their insufficient materials whit those coming from the graves.In general, the investigators of the West Rhodopes LBA culture created a
of a peo-ple living in a coherent but simple society with very strong traditions preferring the isola-tion as opposed to their southern neighbours. The ‘highlanders’ should have steady tradi-tions in supplying strategies and trade obviously, has never been the preferable economicactivity for them.
Vice versa 
, the items under discussion could be interpreted in oppositedirection as we can see at the end of the report.
III. Grave-goods.
 All the artefacts bear traces of secondary firing, well visible by the autopsy. The damages were caused most probably by the funeral fire. As it was already pointed out, it is not as-certained that all pieces are known to the museum keepers at present – for instance thedouble axe is a part of a private collection in Sofia. Nevertheless, according to the avail-able information it is possible to divide the grave goods into following groups:
III.1. Pottery vessels.
III.1.1. Kantharos No.1 (Fig. 3).
The fabric is semi-coarse, there is no decoration except the simple incised line, which un-derlines the transition between the shoulders and the neck of the vessel. Initially the baseends with a high pedestal, melt down by the pyre (Fig. 3). This is a popular type of vesselknown in vast territory of the Balkans and dated to the LBA in general.
III.1.2. Kantharos No.2 (Fig. 4).
This vessel is similar in shape and dimensions, but the entire body is densely covered by fine incised lines forming different motives (Fig 4). The base is also damaged by the fire;and as it could be seen from the traces there should also have been a pedestal below it.The ornamentation has got local features typical for the western part of the Rhodopes.Patterns in similar technique are rare for the Eastern Rhodope region and occur as im-ports in Upper Thrace.
The dagger from Trigrad is kept in Smolyan Museum, Inv, No. 1409.
There is a primary information of small dispersed settlements – some kind of small villages similar to the unit ‘mahala’ from the time of Bulgarian Revival, which are situated on high plateaus or on the south slopes of thepeaks above 1200-1500 m altitude. In 2005 we had the chance to excavate a house belonging to this kind of vil-lages which publication is forthcoming.

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