Thracologists Discover Ancient Thracian Rock Step Pyramid in Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria
An Ancient Thracian rock step pyramid with a rock sun temple dating back to 2500 BC has been identified in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria by an expedition of historians and thracologists.
The Thracian pyramid in question was shaped out of the natural rocks in the mountain near the town of Kovil, Krumovgrad Municipality, Kardzhali District.
It is about 15 meters tall, and consists of five stepped terraces, with the sun temple hewn into the rocks inside it, according to Prof. Vasil Markov, a historian specializing in the civilization of Ancient Thrace.
Markov is the head of the University Research Center for Ancient European and Eastern Mediterranean Cultures at the Southwest University “Neofit Rilski” based in Bulgaria’s Blagoevgrad.
In the recent years, the Center has explored and identified a large number of Ancient Thracian monuments such as rock shrines in the mountains of Rila, Pirin, and the Western Rhodope Mountains (all located in Southwest Bulgaria).
In late 2015, it organized an expedition in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains in order to explore the known and unknown Ancient Thracian shrines there, and compare them to those in Bulgaria’s Southwest.
“We have come back with really interesting results which, to be honest, have surprised even me, especially with respect to the dating and the features of these monuments,” Markov has said, presenting the expedition’s findings in a TV interview for BNT 2.
“These are a type of pyramids. In science, they are also known as terraced sacrificial altars or pyramid-like structures. But the one that we found near the town of Kovil in the Eastern Rhodopes is a pyramid all the way. It is a terraced step pyramid towering at 15 meters, with five levels, with a sun temple hewn [into the rock] inside it,” the historian has explained.
In his words, the Ancient Thracian pyramid was itself hewn into the rocks of a large plateau, and was the center of a large territory considered to have been sacred by the Thracians.
It contains lots of sacrificial altars, “vessels” hewn into the “holy rocks” for the making of “holy wine”, and other megalithic structures.
Inside the 15-meter rock step pyramid near Bulgaria’s Kovil there is a “womb cave” which is “the same” as the already famous “Womb Cave” Thracian shrine near the town of Ilinitsa in the Kardzhali District, also in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains.
The Womb Cave near Ilinitsa, which was apparently worshiped by the Ancient Thracians, consists of a natural vertical crack in the rocks leading into a cave whose entrance was shaped artificially to resemble a woman’s womb. Inside the cave, there is an altar.
The sunlight reaches the bottom of the cave only at a certain part of the day resembling a solar phallus which was seen by the ancient people as symbolizing the copulation and holy marriage of the Sun and the Mountain (i.e. the Earth).
According to Markov, the newly identified Thracian step pyramid contains an identical womb cave that is just smaller. He notes that when viewed from the inside the sunlight resembles a phallus copulating with the cave as part of the above-mentioned “holy marriage”, according to the Thracians’ beliefs.
During their exploration of the terraced pyramid, his team has found ceramics from different time periods – the Chalcolithic (Aeneolithic, Copper Age), the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, and Thracian-Roman period (i.e. the Late Antiquity).
The ancient religious complex ceased to function at the end of the pagan period, with the adoption of Christianity.
Markov says the sun temple of the step pyramid near Kovil is dated back to 2500 BC, which is roughly the same time as the time when the Great Pyramid in Giza built ca. 2580-2560 BC in Ancient Egypt.
The research expedition has also explored that already well known Thracian shrine near the town of Tatul, Momchilgrad Municipality, Kardzhali District, also located in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains.
The Tatul shrine also has the form of a terraced pyramid but is smaller than the newly found one near Kovil. Another Thracian step pyramid shrine in the Eastern Rhodopes is located near the town of Angel Voyvoda, Haskovo District.
The Bulgarian researchers have also traveled to Turkey, to the region of the ancient kingdom of Phrygia (ca. 1200-700 BC) in West-Central Anatolia in order to compare the Ancient Thracian monuments in Southern Bulgaria with those of the Phrygians, who, according to Markov, may, too, have been Thracians.
“I can safely say that the terraced monument that we have found in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains is the largest of all those built by the Thracians, of all the known monuments in the Balkan-Anatolian Region,” says the historian.
He explains that while parts of the vast complex of rock shrines in the Eastern Rhodope Mountains have been known to the locals, and have been explored by archaeologists, the Thracian rock step pyramid near Bulgaria’s Kovil has somehow been missed by the scientists until now.
“I was stunned when I stood in front of this thing. I am unable to offer an explanation as to why it has been missed by the science in Bulgaria. There is just no explanation,” Markov concludes.
Also check out our other recent story about newly identified ancient megaliths near Zlatosel in Southern Bulgaria: