Open-Air Museum of Bulgaria’s Largest Thracian Burial Mound Nearing Completion in Maritsa Municipality

The future information and visitors’ center at the Maltepe Thracian burial mound near Bulgaria’s Manole is nearly completed. Photo: Maltepe Project / Maritsa Municipality

The construction of an information center and an open-air museum the Maltepe Mound, Bulgaria’s largest Ancient Thracian burial mound, is making steady progress and approaching completion.

The progress of the EUR 806,000 Maltepe Open-Air Museum Project has been announced by the local authorities from Maritsa Municipality, Plovdiv District, in Central South Bulgaria, on the official project website.

The project is funded with a total of EUR 806,000 by the Norway Grants / European Economic Area (EEA) Grants, a development aid mechanism of the governments of Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

The Maltepe Thracian Burial Mound is some 100 meters in diameter, and about 28 meters tall. It is made up of some 87,000 cubic meters of soil.

The Maltepe Mound in question is located near the town of Manole, Maritsa Municipality, Plovdiv District, about 10 km away from the city of Plovdiv, the successor of ancient Philipopolis.

It should not be confused with another Thracian burial mound called “Maltepe" which is located near the town of Mezek and the ruins of the Mezek Fortress, Svilengrad Municipality, about 130 km to the east. The latter is also known as the Mezek Thracian Tomb, which has already been turned into a museum, and is open for visitors.

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The Maltepe Open-Air Museum Project is funded with a total of EUR 806,000 by the Norway / EEA Grants. Photo: Maltepe Project / Maritsa Municipality

A view of the outskirts of the town of Manole, Maritsa Municipality, Plovdiv District, as seen from the top of the nearly 30-meter-tall Maltepe Thracian Burial Mound. Photo: Maltepe Project / Maritsa Municipality

In its release on the progress of the Maltepe Project, Maritsa Municipality has stated that “the first results from it are already felt" with the construction of the site’s future information center.

The start of the construction was formally given in July 2016; later, in the fall of 2016, the first ever archaeological excavations of the Maltepe Ancient Thracian burial mound near Manole were started leading to the discovery of a total of five ritual pits containing inventories from the 2nd-3rd century AD.

The Maltepe Mound near Manole is part of a large Thracian mound necropolis connected with the history of ancient Philipopolis (today’s Plovdiv) in the period between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD.

Bulgaria’s countryside is dotted with thousands of Ancient Thracian burial mounds but the great majority of them date back to the 5th-1st century BC.

The Maltepe Ancient Thracian Burial Mound near Bulgaria’s Manole (28 meters tall, 100 meters in diameter) is the largest Thracian burial mound in Bulgaria. Its archaeological excavations started for the first time in the fall of 2016. Photos: Maltepe Project / Maritsa Municipality

The cultural heritage project for the Maltepe Mound provides for the construction of an information center, exhibition space, a conference hall, archaeology training facilities (with a combined built-up area of 790 square meters), and a parking lot fitting 15 cars and 2 buses.

A park is also to be built around the tourist center and academic training facilities near the Ancient Thracian burial mound.

The project is being executed by Maritsa Municipality in cooperation with the Plovdiv Museum of Archaeology and the Plovdiv District Governor’s Administration.

The Norway / EEA-funded project for Bulgaria’s largest Ancient Thracian burial mound technically started in August 2015, and is supposed to be completed by the end of February 2017.

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.

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The Odrysian Kingdom, a union of Thracian tribes dominated by the tribe of the Odrysians (also known as Odrysea or Odrysai bearing the name of a mythical ruler, Odryses or Odrisis, (ca. 715 – ca. 650 AD)), was one of the two most powerful states 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.

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