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Burial from Sboryanovo in n.e. Bulgaria

The Gauls, who had been left behind by their general Brennus, when he
marched into Greece, to defend the borders of their country, armed fifteen
thousand foot and three thousand horse (that they alone might not seem idle),
and routed the forces of the Getae and Triballi.
(Justinus, Prol. XXV,1)

In the Sboryanovo Archaeological Reserve in northeastern Bulgaria are

situated the remains of an ancient city which became the political and
religious center of the powerful Thracian Getae tribe during the 4th century
BC. The most spectacular of a number of ancient tombs at the site, which
has been identified by Bulgarian archaeologists as Dausdava The City
of Wolves, mentioned in Tabula Nona of the Roman geographer KL.
Ptolemaios, is the UNESCO listed Sveshtarska Grobnitsa (Sveshtari Tomb)
discovered in 1982 in Ginina Mogila/Tumulus in the eastern necropolis at
the site (see Gergova, Katevski 2008).

Interior Of The Sveshtari Tomb

The Roman historian Justinus (Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius

Trogus. xx v 1-3) informs us that in the wake of the main Balkan Celtic
invasion led by Brennos a second wave of Celts arrived on the territory of
todays Bulgaria. Consisting of 15,000 infantry and 3,000 horse, this force
destroyed the armies of the Thracian Getae and Triballi tribes (see also Mac
Gonagle 2015).

The arrival of the Celtic tribes in northeastern Bulgaria is confirmed by

extensive archaeological and numismatic material. In the case of
Deusdava/Sboryanovo this includes the earliest depiction of a La Tne
sword in Bulgaria which has been identified on a wall painting in the royal
tomb in Ginina Mogila at Sboryanovo (Anastassov 2008), specifically a
sword of the Hatvan-Boldog type. A Celtic female cremation burial in
tumulus n23 of the western necropolis at Sboryanovo contained 4 Early La
Tne scheme (Lt B2) fibulae, a bronze belt chain, and many glass beads,
including one with a human mask (Gergova, Radev 1994; Anastassov 2011).
Further (published) Celtic material from this site includes a bronze La
Tne B2/C Hohlbucklering discovered in 1987, and a further example
found 11 years later (Megaw 2004:98).

Fragments of Celtic hohlbuckelringe from Sboryanovo, northeastern

B u l g a r i a . ( E a r l y 3 rd c . B C )

(after Megaw 2004)

Additional material includes Celtic glass bracelets, glass Eye Beads, as

well as evidence of on-site production of La Tne double-spring brooches
(Megaw 2004), and Celtic ceramic vessels which were found in a pit by the
fortification wall. A Sinope amphora stamp from 273 BC lay at the bottom
of the pit which was covered by ruins of the curtain wall which collapsed
during an earthquake in circa 250 B.C. The Celtic ceramic can therefore be
dated to the second quarter of the 3rd c. B.C. (Vagalinski 2007: P74; cat. # 18-
Celtic Pottery from Helis

(After Vagalinski 2007)

Further excavations in recent years have revealed a Celtic shrine at the site
with associated Celtic military equipment, discovered during the 2016
campaign. However, probably the most spectacular find came in 2014,
when a Celtic war chariot was discovered in situ, complete with horses still


Previous discoveries of Celtic chariots in Bulgaria, and elements thereof,

have included those from the well-known chariot burial at Mezek in the
Haskovo region in southern Bulgaria, dated to the 3rd century BC; more
recent finds in northeastern Bulgaria include a chariot linchpin decorated
with dragon-pair motif from Bobata fortress in the Schumen region, as well
as a bronze chariot element executed, as with those from the
aforementioned Mezek chariot, in the distinctive Celtic Plastic
Metamorphosis style.
Bronze bridle element and terret ring from the Celtic chariot burial at Mezek in
southern Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)

(After Anastassov 2011)

Celtic chariot linchip with dragon-pair decoration, from Bobata Fortress, Shumen
Region (3rd c. BC/ bronze and iron)

(after Anastassov 2006)

The head is a an
enclosed atmosphere, i.e. a Celtic tomb, prior to being plundered by local treasure hunters
Bronze decorative element from a chariot, executed in the Plastic Metamorphosis style,
from Varna region, eastern Bulgaria (3rd c. BC)
(after Cullin-Mingeaud et al. 2006, # 168).
Although horses have been discovered in Celtic burials in Bulgaria before,
notably in the burial complex at Kalnovo (Schuman Region), also in n.e.
Bulgaria, where horses were discovered in Celtic warrior burials (Mac
Gonagle 2013), the Celtic war chariot from Sboryanovo is unique in this
part of Europe (Anastassov 2016). However, similar burials have been
recorded among the western Celts, notably examples from Nanterre in
France (loc cit), and another discovered in the past few weeks at
Pocklington (East Yorkshire), in England.

Two horse skeletons and the remains of a Celtic chariot recently found on a housing
development in East Yorkshire.
The Celtic War Chariot from Sboryanovo, northeastern Bulgaria
(early 3rd c. BC)

Although extensively reported in the local press and Bulgarian social

media, the recent finds from Sboryanovo, as with the vast majority of Celtic
material from Bulgaria, still remain unpublished years after their
discovery. Nonetheless, this latest evidence provides another vital part of
the puzzle, and represents a further nail in the coffin of the traditional
narrative of Thracologists in the region, who for decades have denied that
there was ever a significant Celtic presence on the territory of todays
Republic of Bulgaria (see Mac Gonagle 2016).

Anastassov J. (2008) Reprsentation dune pe latnienne sur le tombeau de Ginina

Mogila Sboryanovo (Sveshtari / Bulgarie). In. D. Gergova (ed.), Phosphorion. Studia in
honorem Mariae iikova. Sofia, 175-181

Anastassov J. (2011) The Celtic presence in Thrace during the 3rd century BC in the light
of new archaeological data, In M. Gutin, M. Jevti (Eds), The Eastern Celts. The
Communities between the Alps and the Black See, Koper-Beograd, Univerza na
Primorskem, Zalozba Annales, 2011, 227-239

Anastassov J., Megaw V., Megaw R., Mircheva E. (2013) Walt Disney Comes to Bulgaria.
In: Lge du Fer en Europe: mlanges offerts Olivier Buchsenschutz. Bordeaux :
Ausonius, 2013, p. 551-565

Anastassov J., (2016) - Des Celtes au pays des thraces. Campus #126. Universit De

Cullin-Mingaud M., Doncheva M., Landes C. (eds.), (2006) Des Thraces aux Ottomans. La
Bulgarie travers les collections des muses de Varna. (Catalogue d'exposition),

., . (1994) - .
. - 23 , 1994 .

Gergova D., Katevski I. (2008) Archaeology and Geophysics in the Sboryanovo National
Reserve (North-East Bulgaria). In: Geoarchaeology and Archaeomineralogy (Eds. R. I.
Kostov, B. Gaydarska, M. Gurova). Proceedings of the International Conference, 29-30
October 2008, 374-379.

Mac Gonagle B. (2013) The Celtic Burials from Kalnovo, eastern Bulgaria:

Mac Gonagle B. (2015) On The Celtic Conquest of Thrace:

Mac Gonagle B. (2016)On Communism, Nationalism and Pseudoarchaeology in Bulgaria

and Romania:
Megaw J.V.S. (2004) In the Footsteps of Brennos? Further Archaeological Evidence for
Celts in the Balkans. In: Hnsel B., Studenikova E. (eds.) Zwischen Karpaten und gis.
Neolithikim und ltere Bronzezeit. Gedenkschrift fr Viera NemejcovaPavukova.
Rahden/Westf. 93 107.

Vaglinski L. F. (2002) Burnished Pottery from the first century to the beginning of the
seventh century AD from the region of the lower Danube (Bulgaria) Sofia 2002.

Vagalinski L. F. (2007) Celtic Pottery in Northern Bulgaria. In: The Lower Danube in
Antiquity (VI c. B.C. VI c. A.D.). International Archaeological Conference. Bulgaria
Tutrakan, 6-7.10.2005. p. 72-83. Sofia 2007.