Archaeologists to Excavate Four Ancient Thracian Sites with Funding from Bulgarian State Mining Company

The 4th century BC Ancient Thracian clay altar discovered in Bulgaria's Maritsa East Mines in the fall of 2015, with archaeologists (L-R) Milena Tonkova, Plamen Karailiev, and Boris Borisov discussing its extraction and transportation to the Maritsa East Museum. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc

The 4th century BC Ancient Thracian clay altar discovered in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East Mines in the fall of 2015, with archaeologists (L-R) Milena Tonkova, Plamen Karailiev, and Boris Borisov discussing its extraction and transportation to the Maritsa East Museum. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc

A total of four Ancient Thracian archaeological sites, including two burial mounds and two settlements, are to be researched by four archaeological teams in rescue excavations funded by Bulgaria’s state-owned coal mining company Maritsa East Mines Jsc.

The rescue digs have begun on the territory of the Maritsa East Coal Mining Complex near the town of Radnevo, Stara Zagora District, Plamen Karailiev, Director of the Maritsa East Museum of Archaeology in the town of Radnevo, has told Radio Stara Zagora.

A total of BGN 260,000 (app. EUR 130,000) have been provided by the mining company and the museum for the rescue excavations which are to take place before mining for lignite coal starts on the respective plots.

“Our goals is to complete the archaeological research in order to free the properties for the work of Maritsa East Mines,” Karailev has said.

The sites to be excavated include two Ancient Thracian burial mounds near the towns of Troyanovo and Polski Gradets, and two Ancient Thracian settlements from the Bronze Age and the Iron Age located near the now defunct town of Ovchartsi.

Each of the four excavation teams will be led by a scholar from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences: Assoc. Prof. Stefan Alexandrov, Assoc. Prof. Krasimir Nikov, and Assoc. Prof. Milena Tonkova from the National Institute and Museum of Archaeology in Sofia, and Assoc. Prof. Rumyana Georgieva from the Institute of Balkan Studies and Thracology in Sofia.

The 2016 rescue excavations in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East Coal Mining Complex are going to take three months, and are going to involve about 70 workers.

In the past 15 years, over 670 archaeological sites have been researched in the mining region, with a large number of the discovered artifacts kept in the Maritsa East Museum of Archaeology in Radnevo.

In the fall of 2015, the rescue excavations in a coal mine near Troyanovo made headlines with the discovery, among other things, of a 4th century BC Ancient Thracian clay altar, the first of its kind to have ever found in Bulgaria.

Back then the digs were initiated after the discovery of structures from an Early Byzantine and medieval Bulgarian settlement in the Troyanovo North Mine, and were carried out by three archaeological teams.

Download the ArchaeologyinBulgaria App for iPhone & iPad!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, Pinterest!

Another view of the 4th century BC Ancient Thracian clay altar discovered in Bulgaria's Maritsa East Mines in the fall of 2015. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc

Another view of the 4th century BC Ancient Thracian clay altar discovered in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East Mines in the fall of 2015. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc

The fall 2015 rescue excavations in Bulgaria's Maritsa East Mining Complex. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc

The fall 2015 rescue excavations in Bulgaria’s Maritsa East Mining Complex. Photo: Maritsa East Mines Jsc