Archaeologists Discover Ancient Thracian Ruler’s Residence near Bulgaria’s Brodilovo

The excavation site in the Strandzha Mountain in Southeast Bulgaria where the archaeologists have found the residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler of the Asti tribe, which was destroyed during the Roman Republic's wars against King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality

The excavation site in the Strandzha Mountain in Southeast Bulgaria where the archaeologists have found the residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler of the Asti tribe, which was destroyed during the Roman Republic’s wars against King Mithridates VI of Pontus. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality

The residence of an Ancient Thracian ruler has been found during archaeological excavations near the town of Brodilovo, Tsarevo Municipality, Burgas District, located in Southeast Bulgaria near the Black Sea coast.

The excavations near Brodilovo have been led by archaeologist Deyan Dichev, and consulted by archaeologist Daniela Agre from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The digs took 40 days in which the Bulgarian archaeologists have ultimately confirmed their initial hypothesis, that the site explored by them was indeed the fortified home of an Ancient Thracian ruler, Tsarevo Municipality has announced.

The archaeologists started to believe that there might be an Ancient Thracian residence in the region based on their excavations in the northern part of the Strandzha Mountain in the last few years.

During that period they unearthed there the only Ancient Thracian tomb with an arched ceiling in the Bulgarian part of the Strandzha Mountain (most of which is located in Turkey).

Even though the tomb in question had been robbed and badly damaged by treasure hunters, its monumental proportions gave the archaeologists reason to believe that the residence of a rich and powerful Ancient Thracian ruler should be sought nearby.

The residence which has been discovered near Brodilovo has an area of 1.5 decares (app. 0.4 acres), and was surrounded by a fortress wall which is 2.4 meters wide, and has been preserved up to a height of 1-1.5 meters.

The archaeologists have also unearthed part of a fortress tower watching over the residence of the Ancient Thracian ruler.

The residence existed from the end of the 2nd century BC until the beginning of the 1st century BC when it was burned down.

The Ancient Thracian ruler’s home consists of residential and household buildings where a number of archaeological artifacts have been found.

The archaeologists believe that the residence was destroyed in a fire because the household belongings were left buried under the collapsed roofs and walls.

Thus, the Ancient Thracian ruler’s household items have been preserved intact for over 2,000 years.

In one of the rooms in the residence, the archaeologists have found a sacrificial altar. Around it, they have discovered a large number of ceramic vessels, including both locally made Thracian vessels and imported Ancient Greek pottery such as canthari, amphorae, and cups from the Ancient Greek polis Megara featuring floral motifs and depictions of humans.

Some of the discovered ceramic vessels have been found still containing grain such as wheat and millet.

Other finds include metal billets which may have been set aside for the production of tools and weapons.

Ancient vessels found together with other household artifacts in the newly discovered Thracian ruler's residence near Brodilovo in Southeast Bulgaria. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality

Ancient vessels found together with other household artifacts in the newly discovered Thracian ruler’s residence near Brodilovo in Southeast Bulgaria. Photo: Tsarevo Municipality

The most exciting finds, however, are two Ancient Thracian swords – one from the type known as makhaira, and another from the type known as rhomphaia, which was typically used by the Thracians in the 3rd-1st century BC.

“The rhomphaia swords are among the rarest found in Bulgaria. They have been found mostly in the Rhodope Mountains,” lead archaeologist Deyan Dichev is quoted as saying.

He adds that all artifacts discovered in the Ancient Thracian ruler’s residence near Brodilovo will be made part of the collection of the Tsarevo Museum of History.

In his words, together with another known Ancient Thracian ruler’s home near the Black Sea town of Sinemorets, the newly excavated site could be promoted as a destination for cultural tourism presenting the life of the Thracian kings from the region of the Strandzha Mountain, i.e. in today’s Southeast Bulgaria.

The archaeologists have hypothesized that the newly found Thracian ruler’s residence near Bulgaria’s Brodilovo might have been destroyed during the wars of the Roman Republic against King Mithridates VI of Pontus (r. 120 – 63 BC), ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus in Anatolia.

At that time, the southeastern parts of the Balkan Peninsula were inhabited by the powerful Ancient Thracian tribe Asti, who are mentioned by Ancient Roman historian Livy (64 or 59 BC – 17 AD).

The Asti were at one point part of the Odrysian Kingdom, the most powerful Ancient Thracian state ever.

Both the newly found Ancient Thracian residence near Brodilovo and the one found earlier near Sinemorets are believed to have belonged to rulers of the Asti.

Both are believed to have been destroyed in the same military campaign during the Mithridatic Wars.

In the Third Mithridatic War (73 – 63 BC) in which Rome ultimately prevailed over the Pontic Kingdom (Pontus), the cities and the Ancient Thracians inhabiting what is today Bulgaria’s southern Black Sea coast were allies of Mithridates VI who sent to their aid forces led by commander Epithinchanonus.

However, the Roman legions of general Marcus Lucullus routed the forces of Pontus as well as the troops of Apollonia Pontica and the Thracians.

Another Ancient Thracian stronghold, the previously unknown fortress Pharmakida discovered recently in Bulgaria’s Primorsko Municipality, has also been found to have been destroyed during Ancient Rome’s Mithridatic Wars.

Also read more about the Ancient Thracian fortress Pharmakida which is also located in Southeast Bulgaria, and was also destroyed in the Mithridatic Wars:

Newly Found Fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko Was Fortified Residence of Ancient Thracian Ruler, Archaeologists Conclude

Archaeologists Discover Coin Treasure in Recently Found Fortress Pharmakida near Bulgaria’s Primorsko, Link It to Rome’s Third Mithridatic War

Bulgarian Archaeologist Discovers Previously Unknown Ancient Thracian Fortress in Thick Forest along Ropotamo River

Background Infonotes:

The Ancient Thracians were an ethno-cultural group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting much of Southeast Europe from about the middle of the second millennium BC to about the 6th century AD on the territory of modern-day Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia.

The Odrysian Kingdom is a union of Thracian tribes dominated by the tribe of the Odrysians (also known as Odrysea or Odrusai bearing the name of a mythical ruler, Odryses or Odrisis, (ca. 715 – ca. 650 AD), was the most powerful state of the Ancient Thracians. It existed from the unification of many Thracian tribes by a single ruler, King Teres, in the 5th century BC till its conquest by the Romans in 46 AD on the territory of most of modern-day Bulgaria, Northern Greece, Southeastern Romania, and Northwestern Turkey.